The cover is really, actually done. From skull to photographs to Photoshop to Illustrator, this has been lurking in my mind since last fall, when I first saw that face...
My transition from winter to spring is a little rough this year. Which means, I've had three major mood collapses in the last four weeks. I can go from the best of moods to the worst within a second or two; it's possible to see me physically change when it happens. My posture, my facial expressions -- I'm a very emotive person, people around me tend to be strongly affected by my moods, and this state makes me a toxic presence.
The first time it happened, it was a jerky process. I could feel different areas of emotion becoming engaged; fear would spark anger and grief, and feedback would occur. It felt like a circuit, and left me with a strong intuitive impression that these three emotions have become so entangled in me that it is difficult to experience them independently.
The next two events? It was more like turning on a machine. I simply got sucked into the emotional vortex. I've been able to minimize the drama, and that helps. Last night I was able to keep from freaking out entirely, and was even able to get some sleep. I am learning to handle myself better.
But the emotional surge is more overwhelming than it has been in the recent past. It's as though something has built up, and needs to be released -- but I suspect that it's an old addictive pattern being triggered in response to stress.
I've recently come to recognize a common pattern to many of my behaviors -- exert myself to the point of exhaustion, to the point of blanking out my personality. I've done this through manual and intellectual labor, exercise, drinking, drugging, eating, meditation, media binging, and especially through emotional excess.
That is the secret of my mood swings; they produce a powerful narcotic effect. It is literally a form of endogenous opiate addiction.
And now that I've written that statement, I can see the irritability that foreshadows a mood swing as akin to a drug craving, or a sensation of withdrawal. It's not the same thing -- in fact, legitimate irritation can lead to irritability and then a mood swing if I'm in a vulnerable state.
And that is the central problem in my life. What is the cut-off point between sucking it up like a mensch and struggling to maintain the emotional space I need in order to feel at ease?
Especially when the struggle of getting my way is actually a lot more difficult for me than simply letting myself get swept away in the emotional surf. One requires action, and engagement in conflict; the other simple acquiescence. Which would you rather do, especially if you're feeling miserable?
The real issue is the underlying anxieties that have me feeling the need for anesthesia.
Those would be simple; fear of failure and fear of success, and all lusts and resentments pertaining thereto.
I'm nearly fifty, I have a bad back and the kind of psychiatric conditions that could get me a room in an institution any old time, and I have no marketable conventional skills. I don't have a degree, my resume looks like a doily, and I'm too articulate to be convincing as a candidate for disability. To quote Rabelais's last words, "I have little, I owe much, the rest I leave to the poor."
I don't fear failure; I fear that I have been a failure for some time, and rightfully should have departed from the lives of those dear to me when it was possible to do so without causing to much fuss. I fear that failure is a wheel that has crushed just enough of me so that I can't crawl from under, and the slow squeeze is still to come.
And my fear of success... Well, it's gonna sound absolutely idiotic, but I don't know success, I don't understand the concept, and it makes me fretful.
I know this seems odd, petty, obscure, whatever. But maybe someone out there understands that, "I can't even begin to imagine what it's going to be like," is a terrifying fucking statement.
Right now, I have a whole series of specific chores ahead of me, and they all end in contact with people I don't know. That picture at the top of the post? When I'm done with Swill, I need to contact journalists, bookstore owners, and other people involved in the small press.
And I'm so close to done with the novel it isn't even funny. It's really down to a few weeks worth of work.
And then I get to send out queries to agents and editors.
When I'm done with that?
I put together a proposal for a gallery show based on Swill, which would include the Bonelands series and a lot of other large-scale full-color works in addition to the Swill art proper. Then I begin the laborious and incomprehensible task of finding out which galleries might go for my stuff. (The Boneroom, to start out with, of course...)
And then there's my growing commitment to memoir and performance, which slots in there somewhere -- I suppose I haven't mentioned it yet, but I've decided that my performance work is going to be a book at some point. So I need to find more venues so I can get the material out there properly -- it takes the pressure of an audience to get this shit right.
That's just the stuff that's actually in play, that has a substantial body of work attached to it.
I mean, given that, what would success be like? What the hell am I?
(I'm an idiot who hits Publish instead of Preview. This is the kind of post I've been deleting all winter, but fuck it; it's up now!
At least I know what I'm writing about in the next rambling, disoriented post...)