I wanted to write a book that comes out of the books that have actually blown my mind, and those are what are thought of as “singular books”– books you don’t model on– all conventional wisdom says so– and yet I cannot make myself submit to it. I want the book not to be modeled after other books but to come out of other books. My list of books I want to come out of makes me shrink with humiliation at my audacity. moby dick, the waves, 2666, hunger, desperate characters. who do I think I am except that it’s just what I am I’ll shoot myself in the foot before doing something that seems possible. and I’m supposed to teach people tomorrow but I want to teach them something about this, about radical honesty. I got a response on my draft from someone I respect [here I wrote and then unwrote who this person is and why he is important and decided no, not even on a log meant to dismantle writing bullshit like the secret fact that not everything is about hyperbolic adoration versus snark] and he has no affection for what I’ve made so far. He can see what I’m after and it’s just not good reading. I don’t think it means that he won’t ever, if/as the book evolves. But it might mean that and that would kind of break my heart. But either way he is not connecting to it based on what’s there now and that is hard, very very hard for me to take in. My first raw response is that maybe this is a book that I will work on for 5 more years or the rest of my life and it will be the thing I make as perfectly as possible for my secret universe that no one may ever be able to care about, and meanwhile that act will isolate other abilities of mine– the ones that bring pleasure and joy to human readers– those aspects of what I can get behind and execute as writer— but this book will just be the ocean beneath them. Actually, that’s all I’ve got at this point.
I’d had this awful fantasy that maybe of all things I’d accidentally, just doing things the best I know how, end up on a trajectory that my profession/industry celebrates. Like after you write one book you write another that builds on it coherently, or even legibly. Well I guess not.