Monday, December 7, 2009

Dissed-aster! [February 22, 2007]]

Yes, I am sulking, and no, it’s hardly becoming. (But do what you do best, says I!)

After a gap of around 12 years, I recently got back in touch with one of my dearest friends, the one who originally got me thinking (mistakenly, as it turned out) that I had, you know, a gift for writing, who started me on the road to wealth and fame, who got me through Annie leaving me, who got me through Patti leaving me five years later. He was the wise elder brother I didn’t have, probably the principal architect of my worldview as a young adult. I apologised for a great many cruel or stupid things I’d said way back when, under the influence of my culture’s homophobia or the great, discombobulating acclaim I felt myself not to deserve, and it seemed as though we might resume being big pals, the physical distance between us being enormous, but the world having shrunk.

But then he – the very same person who all those years ago introduced me to the idea of aspiring to being loved for who I am rather than what I do – committed the great crime of showing little interest in what I do. And I’m not talking about my novels, reading which would involve a major investment of time. but about this journal, for instance, which constitutes maybe 15 minutes’ reading at this point. I simply couldn’t get him to read it, or at least admit to having done so. When I pointed him at the music video I recently did with the missus, he said he couldn’t hear it, apparently because he doesn’t have Broadband at home. I pointed him at some little films I’ve made the past couple of years. Same thing.

I can’t understand how someone like he, a major critic for a major newspaper, doesn’t understand how much his praise – or at least consideration -- would mean to me. I am not esteemed much by the world, not even published anymore, except by myself. In the absence of my ability even to earn a living, a bit of praise is really the most I can hope for.
(A bit of praise, that is, and the joy of the work. I adore what I do, and acknowledge that if I were a better, more mature man, the joy of the work would be sufficient compensation. But what do you expect at 59-1/2?)

Lately I haven’t quite been earning a living, but at least keeping at bay the boredom that was trying so hard to crush me, by designing Websites, mostly for diffident or novice entrepreneurs who’ve never had one, are prepared to spend as much for one as they might on lunch for two with wine at a reasonably nice restaurant in London, and can’t speak English terribly well.

I do the work, put it on line and send Mohammed or Shahid an email saying where to view it, and wait, and wait. Sometimes they write back and say they don’t like what I’ve done, and I want to rip their tracheas out with my bare hands. Other times they say something like, “It’s nice,” and I…want to rip their tracheas out with my bare hands. There is only one response that doesn’t plunge me into a frenzy – their being ecstatic beyond words.

With my Web design clients, at least I can count on my work being considered. I find anyone ignoring my work (and I’m speaking here not of Websites, but of the important stuff, the self-revelatory labours of love, the fiction and the music and so on) even more excruciating than their disliking it. A few years ago, the missus and I got chummy with a well-known London writer and his girlfriend. So high were my hopes for our becoming major friends that I gave them one of the last remaining copies of my 1995 autobiography, I, Caramba, which I regard as some of my best work (write about what you know!), and certainly the most revealing of who and what and why I am. Some days passed before we spoke again. I asked if he’d read my book. No, he assured me cheerfully, but he had made time to…power-browse it.

I wanted to pull out his trachea with my bare hands. It didn’t, as it never does, feel like a denial of my work, but of me as a person. Dissed-aster!

I so want everyone to tell me that I’m OK. I so want everyone to tell me that I’m not only OK, in fact, but really good at something. My work is me at my best, my most vital, my most interesting. Ignore it and you’re telling me without words that I’m a worthless piece of shit.

If Mohammed or Shahid is indeed ecstatic far beyond his ability to express, of course, it makes me feel good for a couple of milliseconds, tops, which leads to the realisation that I coulda been somebody -- Robbie Williams or Kurt Cobain, one of that lot. Surely, having lusted with all my might for the millions’ adoration, I too would have found it valueless. I am as unfillable void as you’ll meet.
But I’m still willing to give it a try.

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