I wonder if I simply stopped reading magazines, watching TV news, and reading anything on the Internet, if my mood would improve and I might find the world I live in to be a jolly old place?
I wonder if I did not leave my flat — and a very nice and comfortable place it indeed is — would I smile more and feel good about the world in which I live?
You know why it did not bother me to watch more than 18 months of pretty good writing and really fine commenting go poof (and who says what’s on the Internet never disappears?) when I cancelled the contract for the blog that preceded this one? Because it didn’t mean anything, because it was nothing more than a cracking struggle to sustain a world that no longer exists. It was pissing into the wind.
There is nothing at all wrong with the world being created by and to be lived in by the young. I was young and I helped to create the world of my time and place. This is the most obliviously repetitive process known to life. A generation arises as the other passes away. I had my time to come and now I have my time to pass. I crave nothing less than eternal continuance, and short of that … I might as well drift back into the dust of my ancestors, as you and we all must do.
No, this is not a suicide note. I relish life and think ending it before the last gasping moment is the most wasteful act a human being can perform. I will far from go gentle … . This is not about that, this is about this:
I have spent my adult life working as a writer. I’ve done many other things, but in and among all that, I wrote stories, everyday I worked on writing stories. I don’t know why this is how I decided to spend my time, and frankly, I don’t care. I don’t need reasons. It’s just what I did. What I do still. In about a week, I will be 65 years old; I have been a writer (or known that I was a writer) for 50 of those years, and an author for 30 of those years. Living as a writer was to be living in the exact world I wanted.
The exact world that does not exist any longer. It was good while it lasted.
I do not doubt that the world of the writer I spent 50 years a part of is a dying world, daily being replaced by a new version, a new world, and I don’t belong in it and I don’t want to be a part of it.
In my writer’s world, books and the people who wrote them were something apart from mere product. Art? In a way, I suppose, but I feel squeamish about my association with that word. This is patently not true anymore. Books are like pizzas, the writers of books are pizza cooks. Or books are like billboards and writers are sign painters. Books are do-dads and writers are do-dad manufacturers. There is nothing important about a book other than how many of them can be sold. There is nothing about a book that has value beyond simple accountancy.
These days, all things considered, I’d just as soon carve chairs. At least I could sit on one.
I could sit on a short stack of my seven books, but it would hurt my knees to get up.
This has nothing to do with writing or not writing. Writing for a writer is like breathing to a mammal. This is about the book and the publishing of them. Book publishers are committing mass suicide and it’s not a pretty thing to watch; at least a pilgrim taking a swan dive off the Golden Gate bridge can be pretty to watch, until the end anyway. But the death of publishing is ugly, ugly, ugly. It sickens me. I don’t want to keep looking at it. I want it go shut the door and die in the dark.
There will be something else, some other version of story-telling, some other way of publishing stories; it is evolving at this very moment. This is the world the young, and those of you not embedded in the old world, are going to inherit, and you will believe it is the best of all possible worlds, as you should. I will think it is aborted art, as I am condemned to.