Enough Silence Already
Hey, have you ever noticed: the more things change, the more they stay the same?
Once upon a time, I wrote a blog. It’s still all online. (None of my students has ever mentioned finding it, blesséd be.)
It was called More of Everything Please for a bit ‘cause I was sooo stoked, bro! Verily, yes.
Then, in 2011, I named it You Know What We Need? because, as a good book puts it so well, “Now began a bad time.” YKWWN? put pins in those bads and dug up the goods.
Then it changed again because my life changed again. I started sweating when I wrote, I mean really trying. I tried to be more earnest, less stoked. Funnier, less silly. I tried to make money at it. I often tried my best. During that time, my blog was called Do Your Best. Those parts are not nearly as difficult to read as I thought they would be.
Because to write is to fail, as one of America’s most successful writers once said. I made up a song about it, just now:
Because before success, what do we know best?
And so without success, with what are we left?
To put it more simply: when I read my old work I sometimes feel embarrassed and queasy. This is, to my knowledge, is a human reaction.
So: in 2010, my blog—my Tumblr, Lord knows!—opened with a banger. I mean this thing opened with a real humdinger, a barn burner of a quote! And it was from the patron saint of not-giving-a–flip himself: Samuel Freaking Johnson.
I still like this, and clearly Tumblr did too: 10 Notes! That’s worth thousands of retweets.
Years later, I ended Do Your Best with a post on Nov. 14, 2016 about shutting down the yard: the cold sets in, the grass turns to crust, the leaves stratify into muck, the fireplace inside needs tending, I Am—Done—Son. I’m going to go play in the Big League now (as an intern at a magazine).
And I wrote this little thing, in a larger thing, that, oddly, still touches me. I read it and I only cringe a little:
I dunno. I kinda like it.
Perhaps it’s because I still remember writing on a Post-It note: “Curses lifted, daily.” And right under that, I wrote, “choyé par le foyer,” (pampered by the hearth.) I still think about these two lines. Is that weird? I think they might be some of the best lines I’ve ever written. Now that’s weird!
They’re the best lines I’ve ever written because they take me right there, right into that time and that place and that blog and that age—that stupid, beautiful, regretful age of one’s twenties—and I am there now, as I type this… and I think: yo, that guy might a good writer one day.
“One day,” being the key.
So if you want to come along with me…
On a merry adventure of active verbs…
And dizzying adjectives!
To my Tumblr of yesteryear…!
You are in the wrong place. Please stop reading this newsletter. It’s a Substack, okay? We are never going back there! I’m never telling you what those lines mean!
They’re not for you.
No, for you, I have something else.
Ten years ago today I published something else on my godawful, wonderful Tumblr: a post about NaNoWriMo. Do you know about National Novel Writing Month? It’s a pact among writers to be extremely productive during 30 days. This year, I am not making a pact with anyone but myself and neither am I going to write a novel. This year, I’m just going to write the NaNoWriMo-required 50,000 words in the 30 days of November, and you are will probably read about 5% of them.
That’s if you haven’t already unsubscribed by now.
And so! Without further delay! I would like to present to you:
T’ES CAPAB’ — a not-dead-yet newsletter about sharing my work and about family and most definitely books and other stuff — T’es Capab’ is brought to you by anticipation. ANTICIPATION: Y’all forgot about Joe, didn’t you?
Oh these masks? Jenny Tang made these masks.
This picture was taken on Sept. 14, 2020, five days before our wedding. I tried to write about our wedding on time for Christmas, and then for Karine’s birthday at the end of January. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t get it all in. Well I’m going to try.
751 words so far, and only 29 days left.
I will also write about—well, you’ll see.
That’s 769 and counting (771).