I don’t think I have ever been a respectable person, at least in terms of what the mores of American culture and society are currently and were in the past. Being born gay took care of that; coming out finished off any chance I may have ever had at being respectable to a vast swathe of my fellow Americans. Fortunately for me, at a certain point in my life I stopped caring what those people thought–I mean, tell me not to rub your nose in my sexuality and I’ll rub your entire fucking face in it, thank you very much–and while I do care about the opinions of those I genuinely consider friends…why would I care if you don’t matter to me? I have always been a pleaser–which was part of the gut reaction to having people ghost me when I was a kid, while harboring a secret I was certain would make everyone turn on me should they ever find out, so I worked even harder at pleasing people because I wanted to be liked. It’s also incredibly annoying to know this about yourself, and yet you constantly and consistently hear yourself agreeing to do things you don’t want to do because you want the person to like you or you don’t want to disappoint someone.
Although it is obvious people don’t mind disappointing you.
As though friendships should be transactional; or measured in terms of favors granted and help given. I try not to be transactional with my friends or writers I like; I promote authors whose books I enjoy and, if I do know them, I like. I generally won’t read books by people I’ve met that I’ve disliked because inevitably my personal antipathy inevitably bleeds over into the book. I know it shouldn’t; the work should stand on its own. Patricia Highsmith was a dreadful, horrible person, but the bitch could write and I love her books. I guess it helps that she’s dead? I’m sure if I had the misfortune of knowing or interacting with any number of writers I greatly admire that are now deceased I wouldn’t admire their work quite so much anymore; Highsmith was horrible, and apparently Daphne du Maurier wasn’t exactly a charmer, either.
But I am finding now that I am getting up in years I am not all that terribly concerned with pleasing people anymore. After all, as I said, if I say no to something and that means that person asking won’t like me, so be it. Sure, I want you to buy my books and I want you to like them enough to keep reading and buying more of them as they come out…but I don’t need you to like me, if that makes sense? Probably not. I would never be rude to a reader of mine, and I try not to be rude to potential readers…but sometimes I am just okay with some people not finding joy or pleasure or comfort in my work.
I was a reader long before I was a writer, although I started writing very young. I was thinking about this the other night–how my identity is so entrenched in being an author (or writer, whichever you prefer, although I think there is a distinct difference between the two–but I was a reader first; and I will always be a reader–I’ll keep reading long after I stop writing; I’ll read as long as my eyes work and even if they should cease to work there’s audiobooks so I never ever have to give up on reading. For me, as a lonely child who was very well aware he wasn’t normal or like other kids (boys or girls), books opened the world to me. I could escape my horrible reality into the wondrous world of a fictional universe where the characters were like my friends and the bad guys were my enemies but it was okay because they wouldn’t win in the end. When I talk about retiring with people who’ve already retired and they knowingly tell me with that nod of the head that I’m going to be bored…it’s all I can do not to laugh. I’m never bored when I am at home. There’s always another book to read, after all; my apartment is filled with books I’ve not yet read; I’ve slowly but steadily broken the hoarding impulse so when I finish a book I donate it to the library sale or give it away to a friend; I realized the other night that holding onto books you’ve already read is kind of like holding them hostage when they could be giving someone else the same (if not more) amount of joy and pleasure the book gave me–and inevitably, the ones I’d like to keep forever to reread at some point (or study the art and work that went into its creation), well, at some point it’ll be on sale for Kindle for ninety-nine cents and I can store lots of books in my iPad…more than I can store in my apartment for sure.
It grieves me when I get home from work and I can’t spend the hour or so decompressing from the day with a book–usually because there is stuff I need to do or I am too tired to focus. I picked up the mail yesterday on the way home–nothing of import, but a thank you card I sent to a friend was returned because the stamp had come off (stupid forever Star Wars stamps), and some more sympathy cards. I was doing quite well with sending my thank you’s in response, but kind of fell off and now things are getting lost in the “to be filed’ inbox. I guess I can spend some time looking for the cards I need to respond to while filing and getting organized. I slept really well last night–Scooter only woke me up once or twice with his howling–so I feel better than I have all week. The toe is still throbbing but the swelling has gone down (naturally, since I made an appointment to see my doctor next week; but I have a picture of what it looked like when swollen). We were also really busy in clinic yesterday, which was actually a good thing; it’s been a while since we saw that many people in one day, and today looks to be about the same, which again–it’s a good thing. I’m also managing to stay on top of my day job duties outside of seeing clients, which is also a good thing.
I’ve also started pulling together another short story collection; pulling the stories into a single document. I don’t have enough completed and/or published stories to fill out the book, I don’t think; but I have a significant amount and would only need to finish writing a few more to have a collection complete–or I could finish a novella to fill out the book. I did work on a short story last night for an anthology, but am not entirely sure it’s a good fit for them. I am going to read it one more time before sending it off to the editor (along with a it’s okay if you don’t want this because it’s a stretch for the call; let me know if it doesn’t work and I’ll send something else note); I was trying to finish another story that did work for the call but I just can’t get the fucking thing to come together for me, which is, of course, incredibly annoying. I also found a great title yesterday–“To Mourn a Mischief”, isn’t that a terrific title? I don’t have a story to go with it, of course–at least, not yet–but that’s a terrific crime story title, methinks; probably would need to be about kids or teenagers.
And on that note, I am heading into the spice mines. Have a lovely Wednesday, Constant Reader, and I will check in with you again later.