It's been a minute since I sifted through the old zine collections. The anthology of my twenties. I understand why some writers start when they're in their fifties. Life needs a long time to gestate and settle in to a message. Having my old spun stories is a humble recognition of where I was and an indication of where I am now.
Where am I now?
I follow the same formula. I write about awareness, and being aware of things around that aren't obvious. I write about my Dad and battling with Christianity and I write a lot about trying to figure out what Home is. I write about what my friends are doing and the bits of wisdom I've gathered from them. I want to be playful in my comics but I feel like I never got the voice right. I'm clumsy with humor and want to laugh at people. I set up weird scenarios where I do something dumb, or someone does something dumb.
I want people to point my shit out. I often feel like I send these weird things into the world without much of an echo.
"What next," I ask.
"Go outside and take a photograph of something," the muse tells me.
I take a step out. Take a photo of the first thing I see.
Upstairs, in the space I am living, I'm surrounded by my own garbage.
Josh James' asked me to gather some zines together for his distro and I need the money.
I know that seeing your old work as shit is a sign of personal growth. If you have regrets, if you are embarrassed by the person you were and the things you've done, this means you've learned.
I don't know how artists can continue to stand by their old words.
Last year at the Schnitz I watched Patti Smith perform every song on her album Horses, the exact way it was on an LP. She even pantomimed flipping a record before moving on songs on the B-Side. People had rushed the stage and were standing in the aisle. People were standing in their seats. Clapping their asses off. $60 a ticket for the worst seats. It didn't matter because you could get up and be in the aisle.
Jamie Houghton was there.
Incidentally, her poetry now is in front of me, a hamburger-fold creasing the middle.
It had been buried with other paperwork deemed important but ultimately wasn't relevant enough to stay on the bookcase for years. Everything must be put away at some point.
The poetry is good. I had to track my mind at first to remember who it belonged to. Last we talked she said she hadn't taught in two years. I wonder if she is writing. I wonder if she regrets things she's written.
Making more embarrassing mistakes that will haunt me can be put off tomorrow.
Everything will be put off tomorrow.
Everything has to come out at some point.
I'm trying to write today.
The other day at the Goodwill I saw a book by Stephen King about writing, or writing to writers about how to write. There was a picture of a door and window with the sun glowing on it.
I wondered what Stephen King had to say about writing but I didn't pick the book up. My friend Kale had said Stephen King did a bunch of blow and worked in mad-binges of writing, just pounding out thousand-page drafts moving quickly from the space of inspiration and imagination to the page. With the help of uppers.
I knew whatever Stephen King said in this book it was definitely not going to offer encouragement about uppers, though, really, this is probably the only thing he should be writing about.
I think about the advice Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Lamott probably gives on writing. About exploring the world around you with fresh eyes, being always curious and open, listening to nature with your whole heart without judgement. I think about the world and the money they make and why they are in a place to receive this kind of peace. And wonder why they don't just say, "white privilege."
I feel like people don't tell the truth because they don't actually know the truth. Maybe this is an excuse. They don't tell the truth because it takes away their own romantic narrative of what they believe of themselves.
Last night Tyler caught me in a lie. I was telling a story about another Tyler I had dated years ago. In the story it was how I lost sexual attraction to him because he posed in a picture with a pizza box covering his body while eating a giant pizza. In a past story I had said we had never had sex. Caught in this paradox I admitted I didn't want right-now Tyler to hear a story about a past lover and not get caught in the potential feelings of jealousy I might have to assuage. Or whatever version of projected possible feelings rn Tyler might have.
The lie aligned with the version of the self I had, that I wanted to present.
And I know so much of what I will write will be a version. And I know, soon after that version, my vision will shift and it will be different. I will write the same story with new conclusions. New recognition of truth. Confessions of ignorance and misleadings.
The real answer is coke, The real answer is white privilege. The real answer is burn all the books and start again. With a new version of honesty. With some recognition of the lie.
How do I start again when I feel I haven't even started?