Last night, lost in loops of trying to find an end to meaninglessness, it was impossible to sleep till my cat sat on my head and purred for a couple of hours… then I dreamed about getting fired from a job waiting tables for not being cool enough. Again. Laid awake again till time for coffee, reminding myself that I’ve finally landed a full-time job as a proofreader that’s not just nerd-friendly, it’s frankly overpaid… but I’ll never really believe it deeply. Never be able to convince my subconscious that we aren’t going to starve to death. Which is in part a good thing, I guess, since it gives it something to worry about other than the sheer inevitability of dying anyway…
During the earlier stages of my insomnia I’d planned out a long essay on the death of dreams, particularly those of creative people, and the implications for the depth of their awful sensing of the meaninglessness of life… but of course a dearth of sleep kills brain cells, and soon it all turned into a wash of despair and whirling words and colors. I think it all was tinged with envy: first, for those who can believe in God. (Not too many generations ago, remember, it wasn’t terribly hard for people to do, even for those who prized reason; now it seems too unreasonable for my brain to even try to cling to, even less reasonable than a belief in my current illusion of safety and security.) But–perhaps even more so, since these things, though transient and in some cases mortal, can’t be questioned unless there’s a paternity suit–for those who believe in the earthly pleasures of raising kids and buying shit.
You may scoff, and tout the superiority of the pleasures of the spirit, but God is dead, remember, while Prada is a Hydra.
Finally I envy myself, my younger self. She hadn’t tried yet to visualize how many people were in a billion, much less seven billion, nor try to math out how many aspiring writers of great talent that would equal. So she thought she had a chance at being one of the few novelists of her time who would be remembered for a couple of hundred years.
Not that that would mean much, in the grand scheme of things. Eventually only Classics geeks will be able to read the English and French and Chinese that even the most laureled of us write in nowadays. And the odds of it happening to any one aspirant are worse than the odds of my being swallowed by a shark on dry land. Regardless of how well you write. (Not sure whether that last bit’s comforting or terrifying; depends on my mood.) The worst part is, the stabbing irony is, that no one can know the final outcome–how long your words will be remembered once you’ve croaked your last angry oath–till after you’ve crossed the very gory threshold that is what you’re trying to symbolically or avoid by spilling words on the page (or seed on egg if you can’t think of anything less cruel). The great writer you’ve pulled from the rejects bin after he dies and made famous? You did him no favors, he’s fucking dead, in a pauper’s grave; the apology never gets to the dead star no matter how much light it’s shining on you now. The famous writer who’s forgotten after her treacly shades of crap are all in landfill? Big deal, she enjoyed her years in the sun and her millions, and that’s probably all she cared about.
Caring is a torture, after a certain point of loss of faith. But not caring is also a torture. I was rolling in that paradox last night, longing for my days of foolishness and self-delusion and I’m going to be the next incarnation of Oscar Wilde ‘cos I like flowers and I’m so funny… and now I’m just another Midwestern loser with no connections and no, Virginia, nobody ever gets “discovered,” they either pull in Daddy’s favors or make a cat video on Youtube, or at the very best their highly specialized blog gets them a one-off book deal and then they go back to writing ad copy for high-fructose cancer shitties. No wonder people kick so hard when you shatter their cherished delusions. One needs one’s fucking sleep.
But for some reason, there was something about this bleary-eyed morning that made me pull my self-delusion boots back on and look up a new agent to send my sci-fi novel to today during a bit of down time at work. I wrote a confident, crisp, non-suicidal, and professional query and synopsis, followed her instructions to the fucking letter, and sent my plea on its hopeless, ridiculous way.
Maybe somebody will read it. I don’t know why that makes my godforsaken fickle nerves hum warmly, but fuck it. I am doing the Camus thing and pretending the rot I’ve made up means something because, fuck it, I like reading books, so if anybody reads it and enjoys it oh fuck, they’ll die anyway, but to hell with the devil, because rock and roll or something. Wait, I think I’ve got that backwards.