A Short Introduction to Settings That Will Only Make Sense Once You Read The Reeds (and yes I’m going to say “read The Reeds” quite often in the coming months)

An overhead view of the lovely (it’s not lovely) Cote St. Luc Shopping Centre which was once close to dead but managed to kind of save itself (though not completely)

The long road to publishing is indeed a long road. Duh.

But you’ve seen the cover. The first blurbs are in. And they’re good. Again, duh.

We have chosen an actor to read the text for the audiobook; he’s worked in Montreal and knows French so he won’t massacre some of the words and names.

The book is set in Montreal. It is set, for the most part, near where I grew up. The Reeds’ homebase is very close to the corner of Cavendish and Cote St. Luc Rd for those who know that part of town. The gallery is in Mile Ex, sure, but the beer garden is really what is now Bar Wills up on Esplanade (though the book was written long before the opening of Bar Wills). The Canal is the Canal. The Point is the Point. I imagine Bobby’s office somewhere near Guy, perhaps between the Centre Bell and Guy where the new condos have all gone up. Dee’s high school is where Marymount is now but I had St. Luc in mind (and remember, Marymount and St. Luc switched buildings probably 20 years ago). Mimi’s store and warehouse is set in the Cote St. Luc Shopping Centre but a very rundown and dystopian version of it. The Chinese restaurant where Bobby orders take out and enjoys a beer is Fay Wong. It is always Fay Wong. It’s been there since I was a child though it may have changed ownership at some point. And the golf course is Meadowbrook. Where I spent countless hours as a child, exploring not just the golf course but also the train yard beyond it, where we would climb mountains of iron ingots and leave caked in black dust.

My last novel, which started out in Montreal (in the first draft) morphed into something quite different; a road novel set almost entirely in the U.S. The Reeds does not leave the island of Montreal. It almost feels like a reaction to Waiting for the Man.

The book is now available for preorder. Everywhere. Please preorder if you are able.

Oh, and here are some of the blurbs, taken from the book’s page on my publisher’s website.

Sometimes people say nice things and they don’t have to be paid for it.

 

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The Cover (Preliminary)

There’s nothing to add here. This is the cover of the ARC (look at the words in the black circle for clarification) for my forthcoming novel. Orange shag shows up a few times in the text, in two different places, connected to an individual and the two halves of his life. He strokes the shag a lot. That’s not a euphemism.

There’s a lot of carpet and furniture and cooking and drinking and over-drinking and photo-taking in The Reeds but mostly there’s a lot of talk; much of the plot is propelled by talk. And much of the novel is about big ideas brought to life by all this talk. More to come.

The Reeds is out this October.

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2023 Cannot Be Dreamt Away

Three Stills from Planet of the Bass

What a year it was.

I am tired of year end reviews.

Years can suck for the writer of the review or for the world at large, or can be good for the writer of the review (but rarely for the world at large) but 2023 seemed to continue a string of crap that started with the pandemic that refuses to leave (it hasn’t gone anywhere just look at the numbers) and continued on to, oh, the continuing mess in the Ukraine, wars in Burma and Sudan (which, quite possibly, is the world’s worst disaster right now, if we must rank disasters, and probably the most ignored for reasons that are too obvious to mention), and the incredible intractable kerfuffle that is Israel and the Palestinians (not ignored, obviously, but not always for the right reasons) and all the drama and trauma and idiocy and suffering that this latest awful mess is causing both in the vicinity of the conflict but also around the world.

The extremists are winning, in other words. They are always the source of the news. Always. Which is always a surprise.

This was our year. Canada, where I live, feels adrift but this, in hindsight, seems to be its normal vibe. In many ways Canada is not a serious country (and I don’t mean in the right wing pundit talking point kind of way, nor do I mean this in the Quebec separatist kind of way either). It is one that allows you to live and not think about things (and if you do, chances are it is an American thing) and this is a luxury and the result of the privilege of living huddled by the border of a superpower. In Quebec, where I also live, we are led by a party of bureaucrats and careerists who govern by what they think their voters might like, as opposed to leading. So the teachers are on strike, the nurses are on strike, the government promises things no one wants, they go after minorities and/or immigrants because it gets them points in the hinterland, they hate the metropolis because it is so different from the rest of the place. The government in Quebec is the result of a population being tired of politics and personalities and so we are governed by an apolitical bunch that is free of personality. In Montreal, where I live, the city marches on, drifting, with and without momentum, but livable and charming and creative, though that is being challenged as well, by the same problems afflicting other places, namely lack of affordable housing and apartments, NIMBYs moving into condos next to nightclubs and then complaining about the sound at night, and the damned cost of eggs.

The economy is doing not bad. The numbers say so. Inflation is pretty much under control. The numbers say so. Unemployment is very low. The numbers say so. But the people don’t say so. There is a disconnect between reality and what people feel, and unlike the disconnect between, say, crime rates and people convinced “the streets” are more “dangerous,” driven clearly by a media that needs us to feel the “danger” so we stay indoors and consume their media, the economic disconnect is something else. The numbers are good but the feeling that things aren’t is almost universal.

Is it because we consume entertainment that showcases the lives of the ultra-wealthy? (Look, I enjoyed Succession too but that family was miserable and part of the joy of the show was the manner in which that misery would manifest itself.) Is it because we believe that one’s prosperity says something about one’s character? (There are too many examples of people thinking this and being wrong for thinking this to mention but I will give you two words: Elon. Musk.) The world we have built is one that places great truck in personal growth, in “success,” in the linear trajectory our lives might or should take. But whatever the reason, many of us aren’t satisfied with what we have, or what we lack, and many of us are, indeed, not doing well financially, and so while it’s true money can’t buy happiness (see the examples above), some money can sure make one happier.

Is it because of Tik Tok?

I’ve managed to get this far without mentioning AI and this screed about the business of AI (and not the ethical implications of it) sounds good to me. Of course it’s a grift. And the people who will make money off it are not in the business of making things better they’re in the business of making more money. Which is their right. But the cost of their profit will be felt by everyone.

I received an AI-generated Christmas card the other day. Christmas was misspelled. And “Merry” was rendered in a font that was illegible. In other words, I can only assume the word was Merry. The image was glossy, a vintage looking robot placing a wrapped gift under a tree, with that uncanny valley sheen that seems to infect all AI-generated art. It was sent sincerely, so thanks sender, and it was also awful and unintentionally hilarious. I got the laugh out of the way because AI is going to stop being funny soon.

Tech has long been long on promise and short on actual benefits. You might say, wait a minute, the conveniences of tech far outweigh the bad. I think that’s debatable now and perhaps gets more debatable by the day. Tech utopians are simply that, utopians, and utopia is a mere vibe away from dystopia; both are unrealistic but it’s easier to frown than to smile (not everyone agrees with this and I acknowledge the disagreement). Every bit of tech has an outlier but sometimes the harm is built in.

Spotify is a good example. They have built a platform that emphasizes reach over quality (just listen to another streaming service and compare) and have managed to completely fuck up the economic model for musicians. And yet, we all use it. Spotify has flattened the world with their Wrapped feature (which collapses with any kind of scrutiny), which I’m sure started as the answer to a question from a smart marketing person (who simply asked “why are we just sitting on everyone’s data?”) and has become an odd and uncomfortable juggernaut. Again, only if you think about it. And by the way, the place my musical taste is most like is “Brighton.” I’ve been there, it’s lovely and I can see why Spotify thinks my taste aligns with the hip people of Brighton and Hove. It’s reductive and simplistic, sure, but Spotify isn’t creating this “data” to be smart, let’s be clear.

Speaking of streaming, well, I’d rather not, but TV is now streaming and the streamers are becoming….just like yesterday’s tv. What else is an ad on a streaming service? It’s like the tv-tech mash up braintrust thought long and hard, decided what they were doing was not sustainable (or finally realized it because money isn’t magic) and rediscovered advertising. We’re all Bobby Ewing in the shower, man, except we’re not all sleeping with Pam. Or live on a giant ranch funded by greed and fossil fuels.

And speaking of which, I don’t want to talk about the environment. It’s a mess, it’s getting worse, COP was a cop out, a handful of people have decided it’s better to get rich than die (eventually, this cartoon is on point). If you’re not working in the oil industry and still support the oil industry, ask yourself why. Beyond “ideology.” Really really ask yourself this question. Do it in front of a mirror until you are afraid of looking at your own face. Go ahead. What other industry do you support with such passion and…vitriol? Because chances are you are doing the bidding of others.

Look, electric cars are great and don’t use fossil fuels but they’re not, you know, clean. Those batteries are the source of some horrid working conditions. And I think the real menace is plastic, which is everywhere. Never mind the heat (or the humidity) or the dust or the drought. Or the rain. Or the flooding. Or the lack and/or abundance of water. (all of which I’ve written about in a manuscript I’m having trouble placing….speaking of my writing:)

I have a novel coming out in 2024. I wrote more in 2023. I ditched my agent at the end of 2022 and as of this writing am still looking for a new one. But the novel will come out, October 15th, it’s called The Reeds, and so that’s something to look forward to.

My consultancy, like other businesses, has its ups and downs. It’s a new business and that means I could use more money (notwithstanding what I just said). At the start of the year, my son left on some overseas adventures. Midway through the year he returned. Now he is planning another journey. I have travelled enough in my life that his mere planning tires me out though the thought of going somewhere and just enjoying the fuck out of doing nothing exotically has an appeal.

The older I get the more the idea of nothing appeals. Of null. Love, as no points is called in tennis. I look forward to a world that slows down, inexorably ridding itself of humans, waiting for another animal to take over. But that is a long ways away. In the meantime, there is media to consume (and all media, in addition to what I’ve mentioned already is a mess and most everyone knows it). There are books to read. So many books. There is joy. There is good food. There are moments and objects of beauty. There is the hope that people come to their senses, though the evidence generally does not lend itself to hope.

The possibility of beauty, especially when it is improbable, is what keeps us going and that in itself is a beautiful thing.

The video of the year, because the year was so meh, is this one. That it’s smart dumb and dumb smart, all at once, and that the campaign got even smarter (with the simple trick of never changing the vocal track but always changing the actress “singing”) and pointed – and even political in its lowkey way –  is genius. It’s a parody and the joke is on all of us. And it’s catchy. Dumb catchy. (It is, in some ways, the sonic equivalent of watching Barbie and Oppenheimer on the same day, which was a thing.) Planet of the Bass not the song of the year (and I’ve had this verified by my Spotify Wrapped at least – I didn’t listen to it once on Spotify!) but it made its point and perfectly encapsulates how genuinely shitty things feel. Wrapped in a pleasing, even, yes, beautiful, package.

Which leads us to the word of the year: “Enshittification.” A word so perfect, so obvious to anyone that learns of it, one is amazed it is new and not something passed down from violent prehistoric horse-riding tribes wandering the steppes of what is now Ukraine. Where they know a thing or two about enshittification.

Bobby Ewing in the shower, as if nothing happened at all

Maybe it was all a dream, right?

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New Novel Coming But Not For A While

It’s true. I have a new book coming, next year, in the fall, so announcing this now feels silly but I’m going to announce it, if I haven’t already. It’s possible I did. If so, I’m sorry.

The book is called The Reeds. It will come out in the fall of 2024. It was supposed to come out in the spring but now it’s coming out in the fall because the sales and marketing people felt it would be better received in the fall and who am I to argue? (hint: I’m not)

The book grew out of my Twisters. Remember those? When I was writing them until 2018 (I wrote about why I stopped writing them here) and then moved on with my life. They were standalone, each one, but sometimes, a “character” kept reappearing, a kind of office tyrant, and I used him as an easy way to critique office life/corporate culture and what work can do to the soul.

I wondered about this man’s family life. And I imagined that he was a good man, a good husband, a good father. He lived a dual existence. And from there, truly a humble beginning, I started writing about a family and then the family itself took over and I ended up with the book. If you search my profile on Medium and then search for “Jones” you will find a bunch of early drafts and chapters. You will note the project was called “Jones” and not The Reads, and that’s because I changed the title; another Montreal-based writer came out with a book called…Jones last year. About a family. That’s where the similarities end but it was enough for my publisher to note it and ask “What do we do about this?” and the Jones family became The Reeds.

Fall 2024. It’s a long time from now. The book will be fresh. Like all authors, the story will not feel fresh to me (the first excerpt of any Jones kind of stuff on Medium is from 2015 (!)) and I’ve already imagined absolutely blanking out on plot points during an interview, which I will then spin into something about the process of publishing, we’ll have a good laugh and then we’ll go out for a beer. Because beer can make everything better.

Cheers!

 

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Nine Years Ago Today

The announcement on a well used blackboard nine years ago…

I launched my previous novel at Montreal’s venerable Librairie Drawn & Quarterly, which just happens to be my neighborhood bookstore (lucky me — it’s truly a great place, one of this city’s treasures). I remember there was a lot of beer. My publishers indulged me. So much beer that there was a lot left over and I told the bookstore employees to keep them. They weren’t sure what to do — but I hope they partied a bit.

I did a reading but as a very bad PowerPoint presentation, which was thematically adjacent to the story but worked. That PPT was also posted to places like Slideshare (it’s still there) and as a video, again badly done on purpose (and the video is still up on YouTube).

A few weeks later I would repeat the process (more or less) in Toronto. Then I went to New York to hand out pizza on the sidewalk outside the Javits Center to bewildered passersby. Book Expo! Our booth at the convention was around the corner of a very big publisher and they had Angelica Huston signing autographs and, well, I’m no Angelica Huston. I’ve never even met Jack Nicholson let alone sleep with him.

I did not think back then that it would be a decade before my next novel was published. But here we are. My next one, The Reeds, will be published next spring. Ten years after the last one. Luckily, there will be no PowerPoint. I mean, I was sick of it then. Also: I am not a big fan of readings. But you do what you have to do to sell a few copies of a book. Emphasis on the word “few.”

I don’t know what we’ll do this time around. We have a year to think about it! I’m publishing it with the same people — the only ones who will put up with me apparently. I have two or three (my confusion here is not accidental, but two of them are one story divided in to two books; a duology) and they are searching for a home (because, alas, I tested the limits of how much my publisher might put up with me…) The road is long. It always is. But that just makes the destination that much more astonishing. And meaningful.

A writer, a screen, a bad PowerPoint presentation

 

 

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The Liminal Year

This was a year. There is not much more to say about it. Things happened but they always do.

This was a year as liminal space between dumb and stupid. Dumb things happened. I kept saying “everything is stupid” and I was never proven wrong, perhaps proof of what I was saying. A quote as a perpetual motion machine.

The year began with my search for a new literary agent because I had written three books, or four (two of them are a duology and could quite easily be one title, but they were written as two), over the past four years and he was unsuccessful in selling any of them. I don’t blame him for this (he’s quite a successful agent) but I don’t blame myself either. Parting ways with him was a kind of liberation from agents, though I did then spend the next three months (unsuccessfully, again, there’s that word) searching for a new agent. But I was damaged goods, surely, partly because my previous agent is not a chump, and then in March I returned to my old publisher (ECW) and placed one of the books (but not the others mind you, and I’ll return to this) and it will be published in the spring of 2024.

My father caught Covid. In the dumbest way possible but also in a way quite in character, if I have to admit this, and then he died in March, not from Covid, but surely because of it, so his was not a death added to the statistics of the global plague but, again, his death started with Covid. Officially he died of organ failure, resulting from an unchecked infection, which was not caught, for whatever reason, after a series of hospital stays due to Covid, all of this at my parents’ winter home in Kolkata, so this was all transmitted to me by phone from a panicked mother or other family members.

He died in March.

This then sent my brother and I on a scramble to obtain a visa from the Indian authorities, which seemed impossible (Canada and India, despite or perhaps because of the size of the Indian diaspora in this country, do not play nice together on the diplomatic level) but then became possible thanks to the great help of strangers (my brother is far more famous than I am and when our travel agent encouraged him to apply pressure to the Indian High Commission via social media the outpouring of offers to help was not only something to behold, it gave me some hope, honestly, for people, and allowed me to refer, more than once, to Blanche Dubois’s Kindness of Strangers speech) and we were on our way. It was the first time I had been on an airplane in more than two years, and it resulted in my first visit to India in more than 30 years. It was an odd way to reconnect with family but it was also oddly comforting. We performed rituals by the river and then a funeral for family and friends. We drank a very expensive bottle of scotch I’d picked up at the duty free shop at the airport in Delhi. We saw aunts and cousins and ancient family friends. We ate as much street food as possible. The jet lag never left us. 

On one of our last days there, we accompanied my mother to my parents’ country house, about 4 hours north of the city, to the place where my father felt his most complete self and spent the day there before returning to Kolkata and then, ultimately, home, where I arrived exhausted in every possible way.

We held a memorial service for my father in the summer, for his Montreal friends, held in the basement of an art gallery that had housed a…Covid test centre. The room overlooked the courtyard of an Italian restaurant near the Museum of Fine Arts and we served Indian and Italian snacks and it finally felt like closure.

Here’s the stupid part: my father was first infected with Covid at a beauty salon. Normally he would go for a mani/pedi but this time he got a facial as well. We can’t be sure he got infected there, but he otherwise hardly left the house. My mother never got it. She still hasn’t. I have the bill from the salon. It is a ghoulish artifact (and one of many – my father never threw anything away…)

My father-in-law died later in the year. He had fallen and the fall was the culmination of a long couple of years of failing health. He was ready to go, and my wife and son got to see him the day before he died. My wife delivered a wonderful eulogy.

(My father’s brother died. Not to put his death parenthetically, which, granted, I’ve just done, but his death was my personal tragedy-comes-in-threes endpoint.)

My mother decided to return to India for good after more than 50 years in Montreal. Helping her shut down her life here, cleaning out the home, going through my father’s things (we found things…), seeing her off, was a bookend in and of itself. 

I started my own consultancy toward the end of 2021 and in the fall I accepted a job with one of my clients, which, aside from all the death, was perhaps the most unexpected thing that happened during the year. (I also helped in the start of a…hot sauce company.)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine happened. China took another turn (and again and again). India is going to a bad place more and more. Lots and lots of people died for unspeakably dumb reasons, at the hands, directly and indirectly, of unspeakably dumb people. Hunger is still a thing. Forests are still being cut down. Animals are being driven to extinction. The weather is weird and getting weirder. All of this is caused by people. The stock market. Inflation. Chatbots and AI. The metaverse. Crypto finally collapsed. NFTs were a thing and then weren’t. I don’t want to hear more about Web3. They all feel like grifts. Speaking of which: Trump never went away and continues to live rent-free in the minds of millions. And speaking of rent-free….

Elon Musk’s chaos-reign at Twitter had me looking at other social media and I joined Mastodon, Post.News, CounterSocial and Hive. I quit Hive (though it was, seriously, the best-looking social media). And though I remain on Twitter, I have to say the chaos surrounding, well, everything had me rethinking social media in general and I realized I just don’t use it as much anymore and need it even less. This is both a function of my age and general crankiness but also a definite continuation of my retreat from the world, one that started well before the pandemic, was accelerated by the forced quarantines and rules instituted because of the plague, and that continued as things opened up. The fact that the year on social ended with the epic self-own of a professional misogynist at the hands of a teenaged environmental activist who seemed to live, yes, rent-free in his messy awful mind was not just irony and poetic justice, and not just dumb and stupid, it perfectly encapsulated that liminal space the year inhabited.

In the coming year, I will edit a book. I will continue work on a new one. I am thinking of starting the search for a literary agent, again, because the idea of doing the self-publishing thing exhausts me and, remember, I have two or three books that need a publisher. I will cut the cord on cable, finally, and stick to some streaming services. (The only thing I watch on linear TV is sports and there are work-arounds there.) I hope to get on a plane again, with my wife, and do some proper vacationing.

I know good things happened in 2022. I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful for the family and friends that continue to put up with me. I am thankful for the continued existence of love despite everything that surrounds us. Anger is an energy, sure, and a destructive one. Anger begets fear which begets anger. An ouroboros.

But love is also an energy. A greater one, with more power, sustaining, right up there, with the sun.

A dumb, stupid energy.

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2021

2021 both happened and didn’t happen. I mean it did, of course it did, I’m not delusional. I’m not a denier of time. And we know there are some people who do deny time, or its passage. The end is never good because the end is always the same. That’s also something about time: there is an end. Even if time is endless.

So: time happens. But it also doesn’t.

And 2022 is also going to happen. I’ve always had trouble with the passage of time. Not in the sense of its denial but in the sense of feeling it. A date or holiday or season almost always surprises me. I live with a kind of timelessness and for this reason the things that we use to mark time’s passage always catch me unawares. I’m in a perpetual state of not being ready. But then I catch up quickly. So I’m good at something.

And now, in this time of the plague, time is even more elusive. It does not help that I am reading a book about space, where the concept of space-time and light years and infinity and “before the Big Bang” are bandied about like cheap candy.

Time is a measurement that we can see and feel but only in its passing, and usually in our lower back.

2021 started down then went up and then went down but that is not really about time but of mood, which has nothing to do with time and everything to do with our feelings, which are also linked and not linked to time.

Time is nothing. And everything. 2021, in that sense, was the timeliest of times.

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Goings On

There are a few things happening and I thought I should list them here. It’s true that I have neglected this space, and there are reasons for it, some of which are even valid, but mostly it is because, well, I have neglected this space. I have been writing over on Medium, which my well be a waste of time, I’m not sure, but it’s there and I’ve posted. As opposed to posting here. This is the surest evidence of neglect.

But a quick look at my Medium page shows that I’ve neglected it as well. Because I’ve been neglecting a lot of things. It’s what the pandemic has created, neglect, and lots of it. I have NOT neglected people, or at least those I love, though I have neglected, um, people, in that I don’t really go out much anymore, even though I can. And by that I mean I live in a place where I can go out and I still don’t. This is not something caused by the pandemic as much as accelerated by it. The pandemic has accelerated a lot of things.

Writing: my agent, who is great but who may have not made the best decision when he decided to represent me, has struggled with my work. Admittedly, my work has pivoted. I am much more concerned with the climate these days, and so my latest works can be classified, if they must, as cli-fi. He is having trouble selling them. Not because the work is not good, which is possible, but because it’s not really the kind of work he sells and so he’s had to resort to asking his colleagues and thus he must deal with editors that perhaps he doesn’t know or does not feel a connection for and one of the things that the publishing industry runs on, if we can say it runs at all, is connections. It’s a very personal thing, this industry. Sure, I’m writing, which is perhaps foolish enough, because the industry is, well, dumb is the word probably, but I’m a dumb foolish writer and what I do is write. So, my agent has had problems selling my cli-fi (how dumb am I? I wrote one book, The Higher The Water, and then wrote another, The Three Valleys, a sequel, that’s how dumb), and while he was having trouble selling that, I wrote another book, a kind of parallel reality sci-fi type thing that is really centered around the world of work. It’s called Redegenerate. And that’s what he’s trying to sell now. There’s sex and death and golf and lots of smoking. It’s set in Maine so there is Whoopie Pie. But still. No takers.

Earlier, like a few years ago, two agents in two countries couldn’t sell a manuscript I wrote called Jones. I still think of that novel fondly. I might just release it, a chapter a week, on Medium. That’s how much I love that book. That one is called Jones. Funnily enough, my agent sold another novel, also called Jones, just a few weeks back. And that writer lives in my neighborhood. Meaning Mile End’s quota for books called Jones is probably past its limit.

I have started a new company. I’m good at some things and the stuff I’m doing with this company actually pays. Or will. Hopefully. I just started. I’m sure eventually someone will pay me.

Speaking of not being paid, I am part of a media start-up called The Solo Project. The content talks about people like me and also talks about people not like me. In some cases, I do the talking: I have a podcast and that’s coming out in mid-September. Here’s the trailer.

So it’s not like I’ve not been busy. I’ve just neglected this page. Life can be difficult. Or not. Sometimes you forget to do things.

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A Quick Hello After a Long Absence

And then I decided, well, it’s been a while. The world has… gone batshit. Literally. And so perhaps I should return to this space and write things down every once in a while. Not for you. But for me. It might be nice to get my thoughts in order.

So that’s what I’m doing.

In March I lost my job. Well, if I really think about it, I lost it a long time before that, but that’s just a text about office politics and rather boring. But after 20 odd years at the same company I found myself free and it was liberating once I’d realized completely what had happened. The world was, well, batshit, by then, and a part of me (and soon all of me) was relieved to not have to take part in trying to maintain an order that had so obviously failed.

This allowed me think and write. I even spoke to some people about new work but nothing has come of it. Not yet.

I had been writing and then I really started writing a lot. My agent was already shopping one novel and I’d started writing a sequel to it. (For those asking the obvious question, my agent continues to shop the novel – the book world, not functional at the best of times, – is not immune to the inanity of the world. And then once the sequel was done (it’s not done, but it’s advanced, quite a few drafts) this other story poured out of me and I got four (!) drafts done and I just sent that one to my agent as well (and all of you should be feeling a touch sorry for him by now). So I’ve been busy. In my own way.

But this plague, man.

The plague showed us what people are really like and while a lot of it was uplifting (hello front line workers), a lot of it…was not.

The nationalists couldn’t figure this out and made it worse (they always do because to be a nationalist is to be devoid of empathy and a health crisis cries out for competence but mostly for empathy). But they are not alone in their incompetence.

I have seen the cynicism politics is engendering in the world, especially among young people (ie: Generation Z) and I worry about that. I don’t blame them for their cynicism. And now, with the plague, well, the world will feel this for a long time to come.

And then the fires and the hurricanes and the fact that even when the world was at a standstill we couldn’t bring down carbon emissions that much. Which points to the enormity of the work we have to do (and how little we’ve done so far).

I’m really concentrating on plastics, mostly in the water, but everywhere else as well. If one thing is going to get us it’s the plastics. In the future, archaeologists may well call this not the Anthropocene but the Age of Plastic (or carbon). Because we make a lot of it and then we throw it out.

I can’t watch the news. Just snippets of it. I especially can’t watch television news. It’s the voices. So I don’t listen to news on the radio either.

Having said that, it’s impossible to escape the news.

I am off Facebook. I haven’t deleted my account and I suppose at some point I will. But I am off. Hopefully I can wean myself off the entire ecosystem.

I am reading a lot of the chest thumping from those who built the social media ecosystem and now regret their choices. I have a big middle finger pointed in all their directions.

I’m also reading a lot, period. I should probably create a list of stuff I’ve read and watched. Speaking of watching…

I have now accepted the mediocrity of Netflix’s vision. The “throw stuff on the side of the barn and some of it will stick” curation of their offering. They have money, for now, and they’re willing to spend it. Same with the other streamers.

I rarely leave my neighbourhood. We went to the country over the summer a few times and hiked and swam in lakes. I’ve been to adjacent neighbourhoods. But I haven’t been downtown in months. Probably since March. I’m not the only one. And it’s not entirely a bad thing (though it’s bad, don’t get me wrong).

We ordered a lot of food and discovered some new ways to get our vegetables and seafood. We shopped locally. We’re lucky we live in a place where almost everything we need is available within a few blocks.

I cook more than I used to and I was already cooking a lot. Now the cooking process isn’t rushed.

Time is elastic. For everyone who ever said “time is relative” you have been proven correct. Congratulations.

I drank a lot of White Claw this summer and I’m not ashamed to admit it (when I say I drank a lot I’m totally downplaying it).

I’m thankful pot is legal and easy to access.

I am lucky and thankful that my family is healthy.

I hope yours is as well. See you soon.

How do you like me now?

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Sometimes You Just Forget

You get busy. You lose the habit. What was once regular becomes not so regular. You stop thinking about the thing as a part of your life. You end the habit of thinking about doing something about thinking about it. You do other things.

You write another book. You find a new agent. You can’t sell the book and so you change the agent and then the new agent can’t sell it either. So even though you still believe in the book you say “fuck it” and move on and meanwhile you’ve written another book and then started yet another one.

That’s what happens. You get busy. You lose the habit. Not of writing but of writing in that particular place. But it’s there. You’re still paying for it, after all. You still get bills to remind you. You think about the nature of neglect. Or negligence. So you write something. To feel more alive. Or, perhaps, just to prove that you haven’t forgotten the thing. Even though you have. You’ve just proven it.

You get busy. Or you’re an asshole. Maybe the two are the same thing.

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