walk a mile in my writer shoes
If I have one quirk, and I really wouldn’t even classify it as that, it’s that I’ve worn the exact same type of tennis/athletic /gym shoe (or sneakers or even trainers, whatever you call them) for the past 25 years. Really. It was discontinued 10 years ago and at the time I bought a bunch of pairs and since then whenever I visited factory outlets I bought as many as they had in my size. I call them tennis shoes but some people look at me strange and then point out that you can’t play tennis in High Tops. I quickly point out that just because they are called tennis shoes it doesn’t mean that they are for tennis and I do in fact play tennis in them sometimes.
Now I only have 1 new pair left and can’t find any others anywhere.
That’s what is making me think that my book being published is a big deal. It must mean something. To get ready I even went out and bought a ‘writers’ shoe. It’s what I imagine mature men wear to casual social events and to interviews. That’s really the only thing that makes putting a book out a big deal. Anyone can do it. It’s the same as trying to sell anything, i.e. humbling and soul-crushing. Like any endeavor you have to come face-to-face with other people and that in itself is usually depressing. In the case of writing, or any creative venture I’d imagine, you have to deal with so many horrible parasites. Because the quality of your product is so subjective everyone wants to line up and try to sell you their book on how to write or market your book or get on TV for the low low price of $19.95. An endless parade of people telling you how to get famous who are not themselves famous.
Did you know that there are places where you pay to get your book reviewed? Dozens of them! What’s funny is that they ask for money with a straight face.
So I’m excited about the release because it means a new chapter in my footwear life.
You see the thing is… it’s easy to be right. Right about the world and how shitty it is. I can easily go off on some tirade about the publishing industry but it would be just as easy to go off on whatever career you choose. Or big picture stuff. War, famine, corruption, rape, murder, poverty… and you’d be right to be unhappy.
And that’s the catch. That’s the trap that is laid for you. You have every right to be cynical and depressed, if you look at things objectively the inescapable conclusion is that humanity blows. Kindness and charity are just aberrations in an otherwise uniformly crappy world. Actually being happy seems crazy.
Now I never give advice because I never take it myself and usually think people are far too eager to hand it out but if you think about it getting advice from a fuck-up might be exactly what you need. Just listen politely and then do the opposite.
Here’s what I do. I make all the bad stuff, all the hate and envy and spite and jealousy that makes such a convincing case for everyone to be unhappy and I make it a person. I picture them in my head and then I say “fuck them”.
Like the guy at the shoe store who gave me his honest opinion about my new writer shoes. He said they were ugly and thought I was kidding him about buying them.
What does he know about the creative process or how hard it is gauge what is popular? I wasn’t looking for the right shoes from him, I needed shoes for me.
Maybe the hardest part about finding your place in the world is accepting that not everyone can be conformists or freaks. Most people have to survive somewhere in the middle, asking “where do I belong?” while trying to fight against the darkness. Juggling craziness and happiness while listening to Elvis Costello crow “I use to be disgusted, now I try to be amused”.
Still waiting for that advice?
Man is the only kind of varmint that sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.
~John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday
Or said another way:
The study of crime begins with the knowledge of oneself.
~Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare
I get ridiculed for being a man wearing teenager shoes and then when I buy a pair more age-appropriate to try and fit in those shoes are labeled horrible by most of the people who have had the misfortune of viewing them. I take my own advice (that was the advice part) and say “fuck them”.
And every time I get excited by the prospect of publishing a book of my blogs I feel like saying “fuck them and fuck myself”. One day I read them and they seem like brilliant little commentaries that can inspire the reader to great acts of creativity and then the next they are stories to kill time on the crapper at best. I’m supposed to be excited about that back and forth? No thanks, I’ll stay focused on the idea that wearing new shoes for the first time in 25 years is pretty cool.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.
I wonder what the opposite of “fuck them” is.