Random Thoughts, Vol. II

1. I wanted to do another book review but I didn’t have enough to say about the book in question – CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders – to warrant an entire post. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. I loved it.

CivilWarLand is a series of short stories that take place in the near-ish future. All of them are bleak. All of them are about the horrifying ravages of late capitalism. And all of them are great. For a book that was written in 1996, it was way ahead of its time in predicting just how exploitative and cruel our system would (and could) get. I had a friend recommend I read this before tackling the fourth draft of my manuscript as he felt both works were fairly similar tonally and stylistically. I learned from reading this and can’t wait to apply the lessons to my own manuscript!

I’d definitely pick this up if you want a quick read (it took me entirely too long to read at about a month. I’ve finished much longer books in a week!)

2. Re: Reading. Every time I try to be a more organized reader it fails. I’ve made like 500 separate GoodReads accounts because I can never remember my old ones and I forget to follow-up on each one of them. I don’t know why I’m like this and I wish I wasn’t. For me game-ifying reading sort of takes the fun out of it. At the same time, I feel guilty I don’t read like 24+ books a year (usually it’s around 12-15 which is pitiful), and many are fiction instead of non-fiction. I think I’d be disappointed with myself no matter what I did, unfortunately.

3. I wanted to start writing the fourth draft of my manuscript in June. We’re approaching July 4th and all I’ve done is fix a few typos. I don’t want to procrastinate on this. I think the hangup I’m facing is that the fourth draft is requiring real “writer’s work” – having to actually fix structural flaws with the narrative, add news characters, modify and/or remove existing ones, tweak plot lines, etc. This pressure existed in all revisions of the manuscript, of course. The difference now is that I’ve actually had feedback from a few beta readers so I know exactly what the story’s biggest issues are. Problem is, for some of those issues I haven’t come up with an elegant solution (and my self-talk tells me I have not come up with a solution because I am not a “real” writer, but rather an up-jumped SEO spambot who got lucky a few times).

4. For some reason I’ve found myself reluctant to write about anything personal the last few months. I could speculate as to why but I don’t feel the need to do so publicly.

5. It has occurred to me I will never have certain things I desperately want and/or need. It’s not a good feeling. I have more than enough to get by though.

6. Not to repeat #4 but I’ve written several different entries for #6 but deleted them all – I just…don’t see the need to write anything about myself or my life anymore. I understand that there is always the need to create content and the whole “Never Stop Posting” joke and all that. But: If I post something positive I am hurting people who read about it without those positive things (and I also look like a shameless braggart). If I post something negative I’m coming off as an emo edgelord/weirdo.

7. Sometimes I can feel Twitter and The Discourse™ corroding my entire psyche. I think of Martin Chatwin from The Magicians – someone who fled to a faraway land solely to find only monsters and become only a monster.

8. I’ve wanted to write a post about the most emotionally significant video games to me but what would be the point? My enjoyment of writing it wouldn’t be worth enough to do it, I think.

9. Another harsh thought that has occurred to me in the last year or so: I have so many ideas for books/short stories. I will never be able to write even half of them. In my weaker moments I like to pretend the ideas rattling around in my head are echoes from an alternate universe where these things are actually happening.

10. I have nothing interesting to say about any topic and even if I did why should anybody listen to me?

11. I have not (and perhaps cannot) create anything of value. I’m not particularly witty or else I’d have tens of thousands of Twitter followers and I’m not a great writer or else I’d have bylines at fancier places and articles that actually meant something outside of the news cycles they were produced in.

12. As pessimistic as I sound I take time out every day to be unbelievably grateful for what I have. A couple weeks ago I was looking through some spreadsheets for work – checking out data for all the NowThis platforms. A thought occurred to me: “Holy shit, three years ago I was live-tweeting Bellator prelims for a niche MMA blog and now I’m helping craft theory/strategy for the top video news publisher on Facebook.” But I try not to have thoughts like this. I still have my McDonald’s hat from when I worked there in high school. I still have my Macy’s name tag from when I worked there in college. I know media is such that I could be back at any of those places at any time. My therapist tells me to enjoy things while I experience them instead of agonizing about when and how they’ll inevitably end. That’s not easy to do.

13. I appreciate every Twitter follower that I have and anybody who had habitually read my stuff back when I was consistently writing things. Thank you.