People my age and younger have begun dropping like flies, and I often find myself wondering which of the various diseases that have claimed them will eventually send me an email asking, “You didn’t honestly think I wasn’t going to get you too, did you?” At this moment, though, it doesn’t seem that it’s a disease that will kill me, but the feelings of purposelessness, boredom, and despair from which I’ve suffered pretty nearly all my life, and which seem to become more threatening with age.
Having no work: the silent killer. I love to hurl myself at huge undertakings, but have nothing to work on but my own stuff. I wake up in the morning and wonder how I’m going to spend the next 16 hours so as to make them feel even a little bit meaningful or satisfying. The world’s wanting nothing from me is excruciating.
Early this year, I wrote a dozen half-hour radio comedy scripts for submission to the BBC. Their spurning the first half-dozen (even though they’re inexpressibly brilliant, to one extent or another) led me to believe it was futile to send any of the others. I then tried to get a foothold as a maker of personal legacy films. No takers. I made several videos, musical and otherwise, as my comic alter ego Manny Finkelman. I worked very hard on them, and a lot of people were amused. The most watched, though, was seen by fewer than 2000. An American girl with very large breasts who pretends to be giving lessons in Japanese gets literally millions of view.
I started a spoof campaign to get my little corner of England to secede from the UK and apply for American statehood. That amused a local newspaper and the local BBC, put not a penny into my pocket, and led to no work. A couple of months ago, desperate for something to do, I began writing a novel, of which I produced around 30,000 words, even though my existing three full-length novels and two short story collections on Amazon are selling a combined total of zero copies per month. I sent query letters to several dozen UK agents, two of whom agreed to have a look. They’ve both now said thanks anyway.
I’ve always felt that I’m a better graphic designer (and actor, and songwriter) than writer, but there are times when I wish the world were rather less intent on affirming that judgment, especially when nobody’s interested in my other abilities.
Normally, I’d be Johnny the Human Puddle at the moment, devastated, but I’m somehow fighting off the familiar feelings of worthlessness and futility. I’m reminding myself how I always used to exhort my prone-to-misery mother to play the cards that life had dealt her, rather than those she felt herself to deserve, and that any of the people my age who’ve died recently would kill to be in my position. I’m reminding myself of the wise words of Ms. Rita Ovens, the last psychotherapist to whom I appealed for succour (two years ago, in New York): “If your blog has attracted 18 subscribers, you’re going to have to find a way for 18 to be enough.”
I’m heartened by the fact that an old friend of the missus, an accomplished musician, is composing music for the huge armful of lyrics I wrote while relaxing on the edge of the Aegean in May. I’m heartened that the proprietress of nearby Broadstairs’ chicquest bed-and-breakfast has invited me to perform — for actual pay! — my one-man show Wm. Floggin’ Buckley as part of her series of showcases of local talent.