By Kyle B. Stiff
Artists and writers are usually much less interesting than the stuff they produce. Little Wodi journeying through the wasteland and trying to find an answer to the riddle of the demonic suppression of his species (also known as Demonworld) – now that’s interesting. Or Cromulus from Heavy Metal Thunder fighting against an alien bureaucracy that’s so hungry it had to cross thousands of light-years just to eat his species while Cromulus himself doesn’t even know who he is or why the human species has lost its will to live – that’s interesting, too! Heck, I almost never bother to write about myself on this blog. In a best-case scenario, I’d focus on posting about weird connections between pop culture movies and esoteric occult systems, but today I’m going to deviate and write something about myself. Not because I’m terribly interesting, but because I’m going through some ego-shattering stuff that might help a few others on their own journey.
Here’s the short version: I sell my books on Amazon, I was doing good for a while, but sales have recently plummeted. The bottom has fallen out on the whole venture. Hope perched on my shoulder while I looked at my sales, and I spent most of my time writing and looking forward to a time when my meager income would become a stable fountain that could sustain a healthy, wholesome, productive lifestyle. I never asked for much; I’m a work-oriented kind of guy who finds more happiness in following through with projects rather than buying flashy things. Any time I worked a “real job” in the past, I always felt like I was wasting my time. Having my energy drained by masters without vision and rubbing elbows with coworkers lost in drama never seemed all that mature and productive despite any propaganda that said otherwise. I always resented it… always.
I spent years writing, and it’s true that you need to spend about ten thousand hours (or ten years) if you want to come close to mastering any craft. Only in the past few years have I produced anything that would be worth a stranger’s time, much less their money. Plus it’s fun to see the ego diminish as competency increases; I’ve thrown away enough bullshit literary flourishes and pretentious use of language to the point that I don’t have to worry about being completely embarrassed when I look at my own writing. But then again, that’s still just ego talking… because now I’ve got to get a real job, and since I don’t want to be unhappy while doing it, that means I’ve really got to set some ego aside when I put on that necktie-noose.
See, for years I’ve gambled everything on storytelling. I single-mindedly devoted myself to that and let everything else slide. Part-time jobs, poverty, milking unemployment, borrowing, begging, sometimes stealing – and those were the good times! Now that my Amazon sales look like ET when he was dying on the bathroom floor, I have to wonder if maybe I’ve built up a humongous pile of bullshit in my head and sold it to my ego in lieu of living a real life. When you think of those phony artists that dress the part and hang out in bars and spin a big yarn about the bullshit they’re into, don’t we naturally react with disgust once we realize it’s all a farce? Of course we do, but then again, it’s easy to see the bullshit when someone else is spouting it. But what if I’m the one spouting it to myself? What if it’s a fact that not every schmuck who’s decent at storytelling gets to do what he wants to do for forty or fifty hours a week because the world simply can’t sustain that fantasy, and he just ends up using people and draining them because he can’t sustain himself? What if he ends up on his death bed and as his heart finally sputters and chokes on a wad of crusty scabs he breathes his last and the veil is lifted and he sees reality – true reality, not the illusion of endlessly shifting forms – and all he sees is a path paved with regret and the idiotic things he did to other people because he thought that it was all going to pay off once he inevitably “made it”?
Fuck me runnin’! That sounds awful! Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonderful Life, and now… me!
Then again, let me rein it in a little bit. I’m not trying to be a huge drama queen. I’m not giving up on writing. I couldn’t even if I tried! But I’m going to have to scale it back. Heck, most “real” writers who get paid so much that they have to open multiple bank accounts in order to hold all the money that’s thrown at them can’t be asked to crank out more than one book every few years… and how could they? Can you imagine juggling a schedule of vacations, meetings with architects building your mansions, parties with television and movie producers, AND writing a book on top of that? I’ve already got a leg up on those guys; despite being racked by the guilt of not being able to pay my way through existence, I can knock out several books a year, no problem. The only difference is that now I’m going to have to devote most of my time and energy to a job; someone else’s vision, rather than Demonworld, will have to take precedence. Unlike a younger, dumber Kyle B. Stiff, I’m going to devote energy toward finding a way to enjoy it rather than resent it. I probably won’t be able to write during the week because, let’s face it, I’m physically weak and just can’t handle it… but I can still devote a decent chunk of the weekend toward receiving transmissions from the Grand Architect Omni-Mind Entertainer (who gives artists their visions) and chronicling the further adventures of li’l Wodi, Cromulus, and those cute bunnies in my short stories.
Let’s look at this transformation in a positive light, you guys! I’m going to set aside my ego and quite possibly become a real human boy! Kyle B. Stiff is dead! The new aeon of Kyle B. Stiff has begun! There are no longer any maps or guideposts to lead the way. Those were only a fantasy, the hallucination of order where no order was even possible. Strange horizons will be our only goal, and the person I’ll meet on the mountaintop will be a mysterious freak I have never met before, dancing out of rhythm and wearing a mask in the shape of my own face…