Infinite Dolphin Source
When I was a kid I would stare into a sprinkler whose droplets were catching the light of the sun and pretend that each individual arcing droplet was a leaping dolphin, at that all these dolphins were emanating from some infinite dolphin source, and if certain episodes of certain science-centric public radio shows I’ve listened to are correct, somewhere in the universe this actually exists, this infinite dolphin source.
There’s a whole lot of matter and a whole lot of universe so just mathematically speaking, somewhere matter is combined in a way that produces infinite dolphins, appearing and catching the light and disappearing.
And if I have misinterpreted what I heard on public radio, it wouldn’t be the first time, but I think we can all agree it is harmless to let this particular misinterpretation stand.
(And I wrote this because someone was randomly a dick to me on Twitter and I liked the idea of this post being brought to you by that person the way Sesame Street episodes were brought to you by letters.
And I could’ve written back to that person saying UH ACTUALLY, EMPIRICALLY, I RULE but they would’ve just been getting what they wanted, and I think somewhere in the universe they did get what they want, after all, there’s a lot of matter and some of it will inevitably be formed into assholes with a lot of hate that demands easy electronic distribution and in certain cases those dudes will get what they want. All too often they will. But not tonight. Tonight: infinite dolphins.)
We Didn’t Do It, But We Did It: Crap Kingdom and the New York Times
So, Crap Kingdom did not make it onto the New York Times Best Seller list this week.
I say “this week,” because: hey. Not to get all The Secret about stuff, but I earnestly believe that if I keep my head down and keep working and keep doing all the things I’m doing, someday it will be. It, or another book. My dream scenario is that my next book (or the book after it, or the book after it) is finally the effort-coalescing smash hit I have been waiting for and that propels my whole back catalog onto the list. I think this is the dream of every artist who feels under-appreciated. It is also (though the details may be different) the dream of anyone who has ever felt undervalued or looked down upon in any walk of life. “THIS ONE DANCE I DO AT THE TALENT SHOW WILL BE SO GREAT EVERYONE WILL SUDDENLY REALIZE I’M BEAUTIFUL AND THEY’LL THINK BACK ON EVERY TIME I TRIPPED IN THE HALLWAY AND REALIZE I WASN’T TRIPPING AT ALL, I WAS PERFORMING BEAUTIFUL MINI-DANCES!” And so on.
It is a cliché dream and I get that yet I am fully in its thrall.
That said, I’m sad. I do believe there’s a difference between “getting your hopes up” and “being excited by the possibility something.” I didn’t used to think that. I used to very willfully try to assume that nothing good would happen, thinking that if something good happened, it would be a neat surprise, but if nothing happened, or something bad happened, who cares? All that happened is what I expected to happen. Look how smart I am.
After a few cool things happened in my life and were greeted with very little fanfare by my insides, I realized something gamblers and businessmen know implicitly: in order to win anything, you have to wager something. If you want to be thrilled when something cool happens, you have to have hoped it was going to happen.
Basically: “Exciting” is a more marketable way of saying “full of potential heartbreak.”
So I was excited by the possibility that this could happen, and I worked really really hard to try and get it to happen. I try very hard not to be like a high school yearbook staff, where I say “we worked really hard on this” like it somehow inures me from criticism when I’ve misspelled someone’s name. I believe hard work should be a given. Hard work does not mean you deserve something. I scream this at the TV most weeks during “Shark Tank.” I have worked hard and I will continue to work hard and when it’s finally been enough work for it to happen, it will happen.
Interesting thing about getting bad news (and an interesting thing about getting good news): it happens. And then you are still alive. After the moment you get the bad news, there is a next moment. And a next moment and a next moment and a next moment.
And then you go get something to eat.
So the bad news is it’s not on this week’s Best Sellers list. The good news is, it is out there, and people seem to like it, and once it’s out, it stays out, and people can get it, and people can find it. And I still sold quite a lot of books. And every time someone tweets a picture of their copy of the book at me, I think: “This rules.”
Crap Kingdom Publication Day Thoughts OR: Kanye West Vs. Nickelback
My book Crap Kingdom is available today, in stores, online, and on your eReader.
I am trying very hard to follow my girlfriend’s instructions, to resist my innate desire to douse what should be unadulterated pride and joy with self-doubt and self-loathing. Self-doubt and self-loathing are Nickleback on the modern-rock radio station in my mind. They are always on. But today I am trying very hard to drown them out.
I think I just realized I’ve been using the words “trying very hard” a lot lately. Usually in the context of “I’m trying very hard to get on the New York Times Best Sellers list.” Because I am.
I have been told by my very wise editor to temper my expectations regarding the Best Sellers list. They have this “secret sauce” they use to compute the list, and books that are in both paperback and hardcover have a natural advantage because there’s just more copies of them out there, and just like anything else, if you’re already on the list, you have an advantage over everything that isn’t on the list when it comes to, y’know, being on the list.
These warnings, well-reasoned and backed up by a lot of facts, and followed by assertions that the book is by no means a failure if it doesn’t make it on the list its first week, or ever, are like catnip to my self-doubt and self-loathing. Or, if we want to extend the Nickelback metaphor, they’re like, I dunno, Coors Light. (That seems like Nickelback fuel, right?) My self-doubt goes, yup! See? The game is fixed! The only people that can do it are the people who’ve already done it. And when somebody new does do it, it won’t be you, because you’re you. Other people are the total package, and you are a cobbled-together mess, and anyone who looks at you for longer than five seconds knows, with certainty, that you are not the real deal.
But I have other feelings that are almost always running through my head in parallel to Nickelback, thoughts I will go ahead and christen my internal Kanye West. At times like these, greeted either with frothing, unreasonable commenter-hate or completely reasonable well-intentioned and frankly dead-on advice to keep my expectations realistic so I don’t set myself up for unnecessary disappointment, my internal Kanye says, “But why CAN’T I do it? What if accepting even this totally reasonable tempering of expectations narrows the fuel line of my ambition even the slightest bit and THAT’S what results in me not making it across the finish line?”
Which is in many ways every bit as unhealthy as listening to my internal Nickelback all the time.
But you guys:
Kanye West is so good.