It is 365 blogs since I heard that Naming Names had been shortlisted for the inaugural Mslexia novel writing prize. Had I written a blog a day, which I initially intended, that would have been a year ago. It is, in fact, a little over 14 months. Naming Names was a runner up for the prize, but has still not found a publisher. It may never find a publisher.
To write about culture with such energy and beauty is extraordinary, and to write about writing so eloquently is extraordinary, to do both in one sentence rather moves me.
It is my fervent wish that this statement were true. I wonder if it was ever true. I hope that it was, because if it was ever true, it means that it might be true again one day.
My fear is that it is not true now. I do not feel the truth of it now.
I am beginning to tire.
I am beginning to tire of having praise heaped on my work, and then hearing, ‘But...’
I am one of the lucky ones. I get to write. I get to earn a living writing, and I am grateful for it. I don’t want to complain. I really don’t.
It doesn’t matter what I write, I bring the same skill set with me when I write a project. I love to play the games that I play with the stories that I write, and I don’t care whether what I do is noticed or not. If my stories are read and enjoyed that’s good enough for me. After all, they don’t belong to me any more after they’re published. I’ve been paid, and once a reader buys my work it belongs to him.
That isn’t where the battles lie.
The battles lie in my own work. The battles lie in novels like Naming Names and Savant. I breathed, I cried out, I sang, I opened a vein for fuck’s sake and I wrote. I wrote those books because I had something to say. I didn’t just have stories to tell, I had something to say, I had a truth to tell.
Right now, our culture seems to me to have no use for the truth. It does not want to get dirty or bloody. It does not want to get covered in snot or tears. It does not want to feel guilt or shame. It does not want to look itself in the eye.
There is no greater shame than that.