I have very recently made contact with an old friend of mine. We were very close, and I find it exciting that we still are. Better said, what we enjoyed about each other way back when still holds. Now I always knew, she was the real deal. Today, my darling girl is reading the Iliad in ancient Greek for the hell of it. It's like I.F. Stone. I remember reading who knows where that when he died he was learning ancient Greek. I'm not saying ancient Greek is the dividing line between the haves and the ones who don't quite have as much as they'd like, but I sure as hell believe it's one of them. One big, fat dividing line.
Now there are many of you who are thinking, yo woman, why do you think you have to explain this? We've known you're no intellectual for umpteen years. Baby, it's long overdue. Get real. Okay, okay. I just don't want any misunderstandings.
Now in life, the person with the zillion dollars rules all, but we here in the City (that I love and adore) profess to be above crassness. (Though we drool over a buck better than anybody.) We value the mind, you see. Yeah, hey honey what's the date for the next meeting of the Salon?Please.
But I did recently play dumb for the "help" of a friend. I am only an infant in the ways of publishing. (I don't mean that it's ruthless and ugly. I already assumed. That's what I was willingly walking into: a den of agents and publishers. "Ooooh, scary!" Fuck, if I had a choice, I'd take the lions. They can only toy with me so far before I become a bloody carcass and impervious to pain as I would be blissfully dead.) I knew I needed help writing the very specific pieces that agents and publishing want. (And these schmucks are exacting. Incorrect margins (I mean 1/4" off), in the trash. Forget to indent the each paragraph, in the trash. People like this can't be pleasant to hang out with.
I imagine he thought he was being helpful. But according to genius school friend (who once upon a time thought I was worth hanging out with- at school and here in NYC.), my synopses were unintelligible crap. and with each iteration, it maybe was a iota better than the one prior. He said he needed to go through it with me line by line. Ew, ick. But he was always too busy to take time with me.
I fucking didn't need a line by line critique. (Screw you and your holier than though belief in the importance of writing!) I just needed to know if he had any advice as to what agents and publishers looked for in these pieces. This info would be of great value to me. but I sure wasn't going to agree to a line by line critique when I knew damned well I wrote a good piece. I sent him a very sweet note thanking him for all his help, but he had given me more than enough help already. Then, thrown my way was his connection to a publishing house. "Well, I was going to help you..." (Well, dofus, why don't you still help? What's stopping you?)
This was so ugly, and I'm one hundred percent responsible. I had chosen to demean myself. (For the all mighty Writing Bling.) To be purely pragmatic and play right along like an idiot, "oooh, help me, pretty please!", but I'd had enough. How could a perfectly nice person become such a creep? I never understand this. If the table were turned, I'd say, "I'm sorry I've been so busy. Don't quit on me and I promise we'll make a date to go over all this crap." I'm toast. We'll see, I may give him another shot to be a mensch. (On the phone he didn't sound like the creep I've just made him out to be. Just a wee bit patronizing?) On email, fuhgeddaboutit. I'm such a softy...you know I will.
I want to get the record straight once and for all. I wish I could be an intellectual. I know I can sometime appear to pose as intellectual. But I'm not. I'm just a regular, old smart person. And I also would like the zillion dollars. It would be especially helpful right now. Daily massages. PT ("oh the pain, oh the children" the Horta mind meld, remember?) on demand.
I feel a lot better having said this. Phew!
I rewrote the coda to Since When today, because after writing this thing in spurts over a decade, I'm finally figuring out what the things about. And what it tells me. I've heard forever authors who claim the book wrote itself; they had no idea where it was going. I was as dubious as hell. A bit fey, perhaps?
This wasn't quite like that. The social studies report thesis of the thing was determined a long time ago. My feelings about what I dug up and my feelings being a lump of flesh on the goddamned couch are a whole other story. This is the cool part. This shit makes it lose any of its original "history report" trappings. (Actually, it really started as a collection of stories. I've discovered I like to write stories.) The book keeps evolving. All by it's little old self. Hot damn. Who would have thought...? But I slog on.
But we all agree, not an "intellectual," but not a complete idiot either. I can live with this.