As I move from one writing project to the next–roughly one book per year–it’s hard to maintain the pretense that I’m committed to any project for any length of time. Months after they’re done, I find it’s hard to keep the stories alive in my mind, there to be nurtured, developed until growing legs and walking on their own. It’s as if they were like children birthed and then given away, never to be seen again. There: how’s that for belaboring a maternity metaphor (and using the word ‘labor’ to boot), and then spicing it up with a hint of surrogacy.
For my next novel, I’ve decided to do things differently. This time I’ll get a head start upon my own jadedness and write blog essays well ahead of publication. With Crystal From The Hills and The Situation, one story stretched over five years (of my time, that is), commentary began upon the eve of release, which in retrospect seems neither here nor there, as crickets were the sounds that greeted those books’ arrivals. Meanwhile, I’m currently taking Working Through Rehab on a mini tour of book readings, following an unexpected positive review in The Therapist magazine. For Blocked (the working title of my next piece), I don’t necessarily expect a better reception, by which I simply mean more reactions. Actually, I might be content to fly completely under the radar.
Or the search engine analysis. That’s a fragment from one the book’s opening gags: a allusion to metaphors changing alongside technology. Do you like it? I hope so (sort of), as clever plays upon words are part of the new book’s intended appeal–a function of my seeking a voice that would convey attitude but do so with mischief. That’s my way of saying that Blocked will require a sense of humor, because that’s what its characters use to get by in life. It’s kind of a Breaking Bad sort of thing. I notice that dark humor is well rewarded these days, by an audience and/or readership with whom I feel increasingly out of touch, though I can take a hint as to what it wants. How do I know I’m out of touch? I don’t. I just sit in an office day after day listening to people, so how should I know what’s happening in the world.
So why should I try, or dare, to write a social satire? Oh God, it’s not a social commentary book, is it? That’s not what I think you’re thinking. However, it is what certain friends and colleagues–people who don’t read this blog–may think. Or, they may like the idea of a book of commentary, but would gently suggest I dispense with fiction, and include tables and graphs, plus a fuller reconnaissance as to what readers want to know. I could do that and within a year produce a volume entitled Finding Love Through Secure Attachment, or something, starring an exposition of mirror neurons and a glib pronouncement we can re-wire ourselves with healthy experiences, which I find unconvincing actually. Anyway, such a book would be not just positive, as people like to say, but also promissory, and instructive.
Perhaps I will be content to entertain, and possibly shock. Oh, how I’d love to shock, though I don’t think I will. It’s too hard when you don’t know enough. Still, my story features some chestnut themes of mine, stuff that will resonate with some readers, bore others: the oppressive nature of systems; the banality of modern communication; the obscuring truth by apathy and social momentum. Added to those are headline issues, mostly to do with sex, which my writing has only flirted with so far (there’s another play). Significant things are happening in the world to do with sex, so it’s about time I added my two cents, blending in oblique fashion the contending views of people like Cordelia Fine and Warren Farrell. This pretense reminds me of something once written of Jean Luc Godard’s Weekend–that it dramatized with surrealistic glory the contrasting worldviews of Mao Tse Tung and Lyndon Johnson. Excellent. That’s something to emulate, though it would be unlikely for me, because the days of capturing interest with allegorical traffic jams are behind us.