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To be a book 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Regarding your last email, always feel free to vent, pal, especially about writing. In fact, please do. We’re clearly on the same wavelength, as it’s exactly what has been on my mind for some time now.

Nearing 40, I’ve accepted the fact I’m not the next Hemingway, and though I could still hope to be a Henry Miller (in the sense that he published his first book at 43) that’s also unlikely. What about Frank McCourt (who won the Pulitzer Prize for his first book, published at the age of 66)? Again, unlikely. So what does this say about dreams? I used to believe it was enough to believe in them, but later learned that though they do come true, only for some people. Well, if I’m not one of those people, then what am I supposed to believe in? Santa Claus? Polarized sunglasses? Work for work’s sake? I know what you mean about not feeling fulfilled = I get up early, go to work, come home late, drink wine… Is that my purpose in life?

Seeing that I can’t find a niche in the literary scene, I’m lost at sea. I have no idea where to send my stuff. None whatsoever. Where did I go wrong with Silly the Seed? Why can’t I publish Mark and the Molecule Maker? Was I born in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or the wrong place at the right time? Or the right place at the wrong time? Do I lack connections, or know-how and networking skills? I might as well ask what happens after we die? Or does God exist, and if so, in what sense? There are no answers to these questions, and who says there has to be?

One of the things that has made the biggest impression on me, and helped me come to terms with my (so far) failing aspirations, is my travels. When one goes to Thailand, China, Chad, Zaire, or the southernmost village at the tip of Tierra del Fuego, one finds people who have never heard of U2, Mark Twain or Cabbage Patch kids. They don’t care whether George Bush Jr. served one or two terms, or if Napoleon conquered all or most of Europe. And Christmas? Half the world has never heard of it, while the same half celebrates the New Year on a different day. After six years, my father is still surprised when I tell him nobody here knows who won the Super Bowl.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that publishing or not publishing, winning the Pulitzer or not is insignificant compared to living a healthy life, and having a warm bed to sleep in and a hot shower at your disposal.

Whatever the case, whether I accept it or not, mediocrity is a probability I may have to reach out and shake hands with someday. After all, how many Michelangelos can there be? Not only per generation but in the history of humanity? We are but a blink of eternity’s eye and, one day, inevitably, none of this will matter any more. The legacies of Plato, Mozart, John Lennon and William Shakespeare will be erased by time. Nevertheless, I admit I’d like to live such a life. Heck, I don’t want to write a book, I want to rain a book. I want to give birth to a book. I want to be a book. If I must be anything less, burn me at the stake now, but only if I’m guaranteed to live and write again.

About being introverted, me too. Even if Bob Marley, resurrected, were performing for free right down the street, I’d probably stay home, drinking wine and writing. I have few friends here, few people with whom I spend my after-work hours. So that’s it then. Next year is here, and that’s good, I guess. Me, I’m about to gulp down another glass.


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