So I received an interesting proposal last night, an opportunity to self-publish, except that it wouldn't cost me anything. A friend has been doing the layouts and putting books up for sale on Kindle. Or Amazon. Or however that works. Basically, I could put my books up for sale, and people could buy them. I don't need the money. Then again, what writer is banking on a book sale for financial prosperity? Some are. Mostly people like this (aka Jon Page):
For most of us, though, the book deal isn't about the money; it's about the...ego. The validation. That outside source that says, yes, your suspicions that you are indeed something special have been confirmed. Welcome to the big time. Here's your high comfy chair to look down upon all those who doubted you as you enjoy your fancy mixed nuts. Of course, the person who "doubted" you most is you. Which is why you need the validation so fucking much. It's a viscous cycle.
Not that I don't appreciate the opportunity, made that much more special because it comes via one of my favorite people left alive, a buddy down in FLA. And I would publish my short stories (because no publisher is touching a collection of short stories before a novel), and we even talked about recording a selection of the Best of Joe blog pieces ("Hate Mail," "Top Ten Insults I've Received from Women," Tom Pitts's "The Crazy Joe Clifford Trick," the last of which, though not even written by me, is the third most popular post on this fucking thing), and I like that idea. And I'll probably do it.
But the books, Junkie Love and The Lone Palm, I'm holding out. I have to. And not only because I have a contract with my agent, but because it is the dream, the possibility that keeps me going. Every day could be the day I get the phone call from Michele, and she'll say, "We have a deal." And that giant vacuous hole in the center of my being where my soul should be will be filled. I will feel whole, completed. A wooden puppet no more, I will be a real boy. And I will feel good.
For about seven to nine and a half minutes.
I know this because of previous patterns. A story gets rejected? I am depressed for about two weeks. A story gets accepted for publication? Seven to nine and a half minutes of happiness.
Maybe it would be longer for a book. But I doubt it. See, this goes much deeper than a book deal, or a record contract, or that day some film producer comes across a picture of me and makes my biggest dream of all come true: to make a living off my looks. This about needing something outside of yourself that you should be able to find inside of yourself. Maybe not for all writers or artists, but it is for me. Which brings up much deeper shit, speaks to much larger problems. But I try not to think of that, because it only makes me even more neurotic than I already am.
It all comes down to perception, which is 9/10ths of the law. If an unexamined life ain't worth living is your barometer, then I am living large, my friends. Very, very large. But that isn't my barometer. Mine is outside validation. My tank is low. And I could use some soon.