For years I’ve talked about consolidating and collating every single thing I’ve written into a central, preferably online, location. And for years, I’ve ignored the digital written mess building up though I kept buying domains and designing pages like it was going out of style. I kept producing the near daily online journal, sure, but it was everything else (the prose, the poetry, the essays, the fiction and the absurd) that needed a separate digital home. Bits and pieces kept getting shoved about into folders and sub-folders, directories and strange cataloging systems that made sense to my 23, 28, 34 year old selves but that the 39 year old self could only ask, “What the bloody fuck is this mess?”
So years of “some day” and “perhaps next weekend” were piling up. Domains bought, produced and lapsed. Finally, it was thanks to our telephone lines getting cut this past Monday morning for the fifth or sixth time1, I found myself with plenty of time (and with lack of Internet comes no procrastination) and renewed interest to work on this project. I pillaged my hard drive, went digging through all the nooks and crannies.
Here is what I found:
- 16 books outlined & started (Though to be fair, most of them are similar in theme to the other and some are only a chapter or two in.)
- Hundreds, literally hundreds, of finished pieces written in a variety of formats (prose, poetry, non-fiction essays, stories, etc.) that were published $deity know where
- Dozens of pieces started, notated and never quite finished.
- Hundreds of web journal entries dating back to 1996, with web publication “officially”beginning in July, 1998. This is in combination of what was published on The Lisa Chronicles from 1998 forward AND LiveJournal entries from 2001 and forward. For a long time there was separation between the two, but consolidation between the two started in the late 2000s.
Mind, this is just the digital forms. This is not including all the materials & research I have in paper format from when I unearthed what I unpacked and sorted my office last week.
Not everything I wrote is pure brilliance. Or even witty. Or fuck, even good for that matter. But finding those chunks of writing that are so pure, the language so on target or even just a simple line is so beautiful, I question who the author is every single time. And every single time, I genuinely am surprised to find out that said author is me.
I am overwhelmed, not only with the voracity of my output, but with the range of topics from men to sex to jobs to emotions to state of affairs to current events. I pile on reviews on books, movies and music. I drop science and knowledge on so much goddamned information, philosophize about everything. I thought the discovery of my high school journals was bad, simply because I had much more material then I originally believed, but the digital format makes the analog look paltry.
Writing is such a fucked up career move. I’m not talking about the Cassandras who pontificate about the chances of a writer making a living off of their work (slim to none), or how difficult it is to break into traditional publishing (slim to none) or even finding an agent (slim to none). I’m talking about this catch-22 mythos that if you do not publish something of brilliance before you are 30, you are worthless. But by the same token, there are dozens of critics who postulate that clearly one cannot have written a masterpiece when one is under 30 because they have nothing of substance to write about, let alone publish. (We’re a pampered generation, after all.)
25 came and went. 30 came and went. 35 came and went. I ate myself alive knowing I would never make it to 20 Under 40 or make some supposed (depending on who you ask) prestigious book list for best young writer. I would not be crowed with my supposed speakers for my generation, at least those as assigned by Time. Many of whom, if you’ve asked me on such topics, I tend to wholly disagree with or find their work highly derivative.2 Or full of crap.
It was like those years of interviewing myself in front of a full-length mirror, prepping for my big interview with Arsenio Hall that sadly never came to pass, was all for naught?
This is what I told myself (and continue to tell myself) for weeks, months and years. All the while, being bitterly, insanely jealous of writers as I watch them come from under the pack and push forward to the big times. While I beat my chest in mea culpa, waiting for my own recognition when I’ve done what? As time moves forward, as opportunities (we believe) get more scarce, as we find ourselves tired and lacking of energy because our youth has faded past us. Because tomorrow, tomorrow tomorrow is always another day but we always seem to think we can get caught up, inbox zero, take time off of work.
And we never fucking do.
I installed in myself I had completed nothing, when discovering all these years later that was such a blatant mistruth. How could I have ignored so much of what was completed?
Why did I live vicariously through others, paralyzed by jealousy when the back list actually exists?
Why did I, in so many ways, sabotage myself?
It ends now.
I have so much work to do.
1. Major construction on our road, the telephone company (regardless of various incarnation of said company throughout the years did not bury our lines at the minimum of 18″ as policy but between 3-4″. In addition, some of the lines were not properly marked.
2. Except for Gary Shteyngart whom I harbor such a major fan-girl crush on, that it is kind of (but not quite), stalkerish in its intensity.