People go over and over this debate; “hard-headed realists” (if you’re so thrilled with reality why are you writing fiction?) smirk about the hard-nosed virtues of social networking and pandering; sometimes I almost agree with them, but is it worth your time to simultaneously insult the human race’s intellect and beg for its attention? And if I REALLY needed the money, if I hadn’t eventually gotten good enough at editing to escape bussing tables, wouldn’t I dig down and write a best-seller?
But unfortunately I don’t care.
Not that I’m anti-popularist or anti-reader in my approach (I wouldn’t dignify it as a “philosophy”) to writing. Experimentalism is generally a cheat. I want to make it readable. I want to make it fun. Writing experimentally is easy, but then I have to edit this shit myself, you know. Why in God’s name would I want to edit and re-edit and proofread Naked Lunch?
But I will not make it tame. I will not make it nice. I will not make it “positive,” unless the plot and characters demand a happy ending, in which case I refuse to tack on a pseudointellectual dark one. Because you know what? I don’t want to lie for a living. You know what you call someone who lies for a living? You call her a cubicle rat who pretends she cares about her make-work job (even if her make-work is writing subpar bestsellers) and whether the hydra with no face makes an extra million peddling worthless junk today. You know what I actually care about? Typos. Because they fuck up the rhythm. I care about the sounds in a reader’s head, and entertainment, and the fiction that speaks the truth, but I long ago came to the conclusion that most people will remain miserably malicious no matter what you tell them, so why should I pull my punches? If you get it, you get it. If you don’t get it, I’m an obscure pretentious crank who just won’t play the game, and you know what? There are seven billion people on this rock, and if you don’t want to read my shit there’s somebody who will, so you can think what you like. Your brain waves can’t hurt me.
What’s more, in fifty years you and I will both be rotting corpses, and John Grisham will be forgotten, and Dave Eggers will be forcefully forgotten if there’s any reason to live whatsoever, and maybe a couple of academics will research Oprah’s book club and decide our civilization’s (and probably entire period’s, except for a couple of European pessimists’) work isn’t worth looking into anyway.
What am I accomplishing by writing, then? I’m trolling the gods. Try it, it’s fun. I am reclaiming a bit of the acid trip of learning to be an animal; I am having my cake and eating it too, I am relishing my existence by denying it.
Unfortunately for the gods, I am not the only one: