Couple things. First, this is my 100th post. Yea for me.
Two, I received my first piece of hate mail the other day. Pretty exciting. Actually, I didn't receive it. Justine's 85-year-old grandmother did. No return address (at least nothing legible), typed on a quarter sheet of paper and addressed only to Justine's last name. Which isn't even Justine's grandmother's last name. It's not a long letter, only a paragraph, which spends the bulk of its time chastising my website, blog, and character.
I will reprint this letter. Now.
Looking at joeclifford and [j]oeclifford.candyandcigarettes.blogspot.com, what is that all about? Him being an ex junkie as cool? As art? Are coddled, still in business heroin cocaine meth dealers going to be there? It ' s (sic) all so cool, so common. Too bad that bright, good things that need attention are being missed. To most it would seem that a lowlife has found the big scam.
I probably should just ignore this--I mean, that would be the smart thing to do, not giving airtime to someone who doesn't even have the decency to contact me directly--but I feel the need to respond. Not because I am upset by these charges, but because the logic is so faulty, the writing so poor, I am offended. Not as a person, but as a writer.
Like I said, there was no real return address, but I like to know to whom I am speaking, and if you look closely enough on the back of the envelope you can almost make out "D. Waz." So let's go with that.
And since everyone loves a list, let's break this fucker down, bullet style.
- OK, Mr. D. Waz, first let me just say that, this being 2011, no one really types and mails letters anymore. In fact, my blog, which you hate so much (yet still apparently read), comes with a convenient "comment" section. This allows readers to, y'know, post comments. It's not complicated. Just type what you want to say in the little box there and click "post comment." You don't even have to use your real name (which seems to be a concern of yours). You also won't be wasting paper. So, c'mon, man, what say you go electronic and save a tree? It's the fucking Bay Area.
- Looking at joeclifford and [j]oeclifford.candyandcigarettes.blogspot.com, what is that all about? Him being an ex junkie as cool? As art? Ignoring your interesting pronoun choice (i.e., dangling modifier), I will answer your question, Mr. Waz. Yes, writing is considered "art." Some other artistic pursuits include, but are not limited to, painting, dancing, singing, and puppetry. Now, no one is saying you have to partake, observe, and/or participate in these art forms, but you're the one who came to my fucking sites; I didn't come to yours. Now is it "good" art? I don't know; that really isn't my call. But people seem to like my work enough that I spend a good chunk of time doing it, to middling/moderate success. I have a handful of decent publications, an agent for my books, which have garnered a modicum of interest, a reading series I produce, have had my education paid for, etc. Is all my work "about [my] being an ex-junkie as cool"? Hmm. On my website, I have links to maybe two dozen publications, only five of which detail my addiction. In fact, most of my stories are noir fiction, so I think you may be placing a disproportionate weight on a handful of pieces (fixating?) But let's go with those few that deal directly with my former drug problem. Maybe you don't understand how writing works (judging by your clunky syntax and complete disregard for grammar, I am guessing that is the case). The first rule of creative writing, Mr. D. Waz, is "show don't tell." That means when a writer is describing a scene, he or she should stick to the details, character traits, etc., and avoid commentary. For instance, if I wanted to depict someone as angry, I might write, "His face turned flush and he clenched his fists." This is better than writing "He was angry," which is lazy writing. I tell you this, Mr. Waz-Not-Waz, because when I detail scenes from my past that involve my addiction, I want to paint as accurate a picture as I can for the reader, good, bad, and ugly. I do not wish to proselytize or get didactic (that means "preachy"). I merely want to place the reader in "the moment," let him or her make up his or her own mind. That you read my work about eating out of dumpsters, living in skid row hotels and injecting mice shit as "cool," well, I think that says more about you than it does me. Which isn't surprising. There is a reason "junkie fiction" is a genre, which has been populated by everyone from Burroughs to Welsh to Carroll to Stahl, why it sells. People like you find it fascinating. I mean, you read my work, which is fairly extensive. I read a few sentences of yours, and I don't think I'll be reading any more.
- Are coddled, still in business heroin cocaine meth dealers going to be there? Is who going to be where? My blog? My website? My wedding? My house? And I don't think "coddled" is the word you are looking for. Expanding one's vocabulary is a good thing, D. Waz, and I applaud your trying to do that here. But it's really important you know what the word you are using means. Going to the Free Online Dictionary (you can also find the word in a regular dictionary, since you seem to be adverse to technological advances):
I don't think you you mean to imply I am an egg, so I guess you mean I've been indulged? How exactly? Was it my elegant depiction of Hepatitis Heights that invoked images of servant quarters and ponies? No, Mr. Waz-Not-Waz, despite how "cool" you may think being a junkie was, it pretty much sucked balls. You don't eat most days, get sick a lot, go to jail, and have friends die. A lot happened out there; being "coddled" wasn't one of them. And who the fuck are these "heroin coke meth dealers" who are "still in business"? Dude, you need to stop watching TV so much. Everyone who has a drug problem isn't a lowlife dealer hanging around preschool playgrounds tugging at his listless member. Most people with drug problems are regular people who got caught up in something they can't get out of. People make mistakes, Mr. Waz-Not-Waz. I've always believed that the mark of a man is not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit...and keep moving forward. OK, maybe not always but certainly since the last Rocky movie came out. Life is for living, son, and when you screw up, even as bad as I have, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward. It's called a second chance, and it is what America is all about. So if you don't believe in that, then you are a freedom-hating commie bastard, and you can stop reading my blog. Terrorist.
- It ' s (sic) all so cool, so common. Learn how to fucking punctuate. Again with the "cool." That you read the hell I describe as "cool" has me concerned about you, Wazzer. You might want to hit a meeting. (But I will not take umbrage with the "common" part. Publishers seem to agree.)
- Too bad that bright, good things that need attention are being missed. Oh, wait. Wazzy...are you the "bright, good things"? This is starting to make sense... I get it. Dude, you're in love with my girlfriend, aren't you? Justine used to live with her grandparents in high school, which is why you might send a letter there. I am starting to get a picture here. Did your creepy, crappy (anonymous) poetry (that you only showed to your cat) fail to make an impression all those years ago? You see on Facebook that Justine is marrying me, brings up old feelings of rejection... Listen, Wazzy Waz, don't feel bad. Justine is really, really attractive. But so am I. Water seeks its own level. So you could've written as well as I and still not gotten her. Not likely. I mean, the "writing as well as I" part. I've read your letter.
- To most it would seem that a lowlife has found the big scam. What the fuck are you even talking about? Having a website and blog? Dude, anyone can have a blog. They're fucking free! You mean because people read my blog? I'm supposed to feel bad about that? I can't help that no one would read your incoherent fused sentences and crappy comma-spliced love letters. Go read them to your fucking cat (unless he/she is dead by now. In which case, I'm sorry. I like animals). But you want a website, hire a guy to design one. Shit. It's not some secret club. There are only, like, a billion websites. I won't argue about the "lowlife" part, though. It's a mantle I wear proudly. But where is this "big scam"? To date I have made exactly $420 from my writing career. Four hundred and twenty fucking dollars. I write because I like to write, and (most) people like to read what I write. But I do it for free. If there is some "big scam" out there that I can get in on with my writing, please please please let me know.