November 6th, 2009

Mary Sue

Notes from my Bubble (5)

A sunny, cold day here in Providence. I want nothing more than to go back to bed and read House of Leaves (it's sort of become my November book). Yesterday there were clouds.It was the sort of day that swallows light, permitting nothing but a pervasive grey. You turn on lamps to try to brighten a room, and the light is immediately diluted and lost, canceled out by the grey.

There's nothing to report, so far as yesterday is concerned. We're on the sixth day of the month already, and I've been unable to get the proposal for the Next New Novel written or even make a good beginning on a piece for Sirenia Digest #48. I'm losing time (again) that I cannot (again) afford to lose.

All of yesterday, I sat here with a perfectly good short story title, and stared at the screen, and stared, and wrote nothing of consequence.

I've been writing long enough to know that there is no single problem I can blame for my current difficulties. But, honestly, I think that a great deal of it is fallout from the release of The Red Tree, its failure to sell better than the novels that came before, and the sense of futility that follows. Whatever the next novel becomes, it will be my eighth (I'm not counting the ghostwritten novel, or the Beowulf novelization, or The Dry Salvages). How do I bring myself to do this again, knowing, as I do, that the book will almost certainly be received with the same general indifference that my previous novels have encountered?

Yes, I know there have been scattered dribs and drabs of recognition. I see that, and I appreciate that. But I also can't shake the feeling that it's far too little, come far too late.

I think I'm not up to trying to explain myself, or defending my right to feel this futility, and I probably should not even have begun writing this journal entry.

Spooky has started a new round of eBay auctions. We've mostly covered the cost of this year's taxes, but now I've got medical bills to contend with. So, please, have a look. Thanks.

Steinbeck on "the Common Touch"

Someone's comment to this morning's entry, and my response to it, made me track down this quote again:

What is the common touch that it is supposed to be so goddamned desirable? The common touch is usually an inept, stupid, clumsy, unintelligent touch. It is only the uncommon touch that amounts to a damn. (John Steinbeck, 1949)