Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Watch Me Destroy Good News! or Up The Amazon Without A Paddle

Well. Here it is, on sale at this very moment. My first hard-copy publication outside the underground.

It hasn't really gotten to me. I noticed a typo, and a bad word choice. What kind of crawling scum would write, 'bubbled furiously' instead of 'seethed?' That's six syllables to one! That's a terrible fucking score! What the hell was wrong with me? I will be made to suffer for this transgression against Our Lady Language...

Aside from that, though, it hasn't really gotten to me.

But it's led to a situation. I mean, it turns out.

Well, there's this fucking thing.

I mean, what the fuck? Was somebody drunk? Isn't there some kind of firewall in place to keep this shit from happening?

Let's be honest. I see Amazon as a fundamental bad. It concentrates wealth and power in ways I distrust, it adds to the environmental impact of consumer culture, it treats art as an economic commodity, thus training people to undervalue culture and be unwilling to give it legitimate economic support. Life for fiction writers has gotten shittier and shittier since Amazon came on the scene. When you tell me thus-and-such a percentage of writers get thus-and-such a percentage of their income from Amazon, I think of all the Macmillan writers who lost income when Amazon refused to sell their books for weeks after the dispute with Macmillan was settled. That was harm done to innocent parties for spite, and that is Amazon. Amazon also publicly defended their passive support of predatory child molestation with the good old, "We're not censors," bullshit.

So, yeah, I hate Amazon, I hate Bezos, and I hate what they stand for. My fucking story in Future Lovecraft is predicated on Amazon's collapse. And you pretty much have to buy it from Amazon. That is my situation, right there.

Unfortunately, for a writer in the twenty-first century to hate Amazon is like a farmer hating dirt. And I noticed on my way in to my author's page? Amazon made big deal out of how they have no connection with me, made me sign a statement that they provide me with no support, have no responsibility for their distribution of my information.

As grownups, we understand this is bullshit, right? You can't dispel an onus with that kind of protective phrase, no matter how well it might hold up in court. But hey. They're admitting up-front they don't like me any more than I like them. For some reason, that makes me feel more at ease.

So. Maybe it's time for me to set aside my need for ethical (by my twisted standards) purity, and make a compromise. The simple fact of the matter is that unless you exist at the top or outside the system, your work goes to benefit horrible, horrible entities of one kind or another. Otherwise, they wouldn't send you a check.

I don't know. I'm going to reflect on it. But it looks as if I'm going to be in bed with Amazon no matter what, and it would be shrewdest to cooperate.

I don't know, he said, looking at the paw and the trap, trying to figure out what is morality, what is self-denial, and what is pure finickiness. I just do not know.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Winter Sucks Less

I'm having a much easier time this winter than I usually do, knock wood. While my symptoms of depression are fairly acute -- loss of appetite and weight (a bit of a mixed curse), insomnia, lack of ability to function, and so on and so forth, it's not actually bothering me that much.

Here's why.

I'm eschewing a great deal of typical self-destructive behavior now that I'm coming to value myself. And I'm coming to value myself because the world is validating me relentlessly.

It is difficult to walk around feeling like a loser when every few days a person beloved, admired, respected, makes a point of telling me how fucking brilliant I am. It will take a long time for me to get tired of that.

I've crossed a threshold, gathered a certain amount of critical mass -- even if I fall into a state of semi-collapse, folks want me to be with them and they want me to do art for and with them. The world has started to notice me, and it's saying, "Hey! I want to play!"

Almost better? If I ask myself, "What did you do today?" and answer, "Looked at musical instruments online, fucked up the vegetables for lunch and then spent six hours staring into a corner while feeling sad," I then congratulate myself on a job well-done, and go tell the missus how wonderful she's being with me.

See, I'm a registered, official crazy person now -- so when I display clear signs of mental illness, I'm not going to shit all over myself. I wouldn't do it to someone else. Doesn't make sense to do it to myself.

My counselor pointed out to me how much I'd actually done this fall. "Winter is a time to lie fallow. To rest. Maybe you're just hibernating."

And that's easy for me to accept -- I can look back at four years worth of blogs now, and see the shape of my year delineated as if it were outlined on graph paper. There is no reason for me to expect that discipline can overcome neurochemistry.

I get more done in the fall than a lot of people get done in a year, and then I do it again in the spring. I do what I do because I do it, and viciously accusing myself of lack of discipline and praiseworthy zeal strenuously exerted just uses up energy that I'd otherwise devote to my work. Wish I'd figured that one out earlier.

So I'm getting a lot more done than I usually do this time of year, with a lot less accompanying drama. I'm down to about six vertical inches of line-edits, from a high of nine. Things are coming along. When I look at the novel, see how excited the readers are? Again, it's hard to feel like a loser.

And when I remember, I've finally found a creative activity that I can engage in when emotionally distraught. Music, of course. I don't discuss it on the blog to any great degree, but I love playing music. A friend showed me some scales and made me practice them -- which I now know I did very, very poorly -- but aside from that, I'm pretty much self-taught. Bass, ukulele and baritone ukulele, now I'm starting to mess with open tunings on guitars. Drum programming, synthesizer music, singing... I'm not good, but I enjoy myself.

It's the ukulele and the baritone uke that are saving me. Unlike the bass, I can play them in bed, on the couch, in my recliner. And unlike the bass, when I play by myself it sounds like fucking music. I'm starting to be able to pick up chord progressions and hooks by ear, I'm getting some calluses.

And when I play music? It's like running a comb through my thoughts. Definitely soothing. A serious stress reliever. Playing music creates extremely complex patterns of neurological activity, requiring much of the brain to interact harmoniously. It's got serious and solidly-proven health benefits. And I play well enough to reap those benefits. To actually have a little fun and wring a little expression out of the fretboard.

Finally, the missus has been wonderfully supportive. We've had a few spats, but for the most part things have gone smoothly. She's going to visit her family in Ohio soon. I'll miss her, but I'll survive.

I don't have swine flu. I'm not vomiting blood.

This might be my best winter ever!