I had no marketing plan.
My plan was simple, much too simple, I suppose. I would crawl out from under rocky Manhattan and fly into the sunshine of Hawaii, where I would do what I had always wanted to do: read and write to my wit's end. I would acquire writing skills and accumulate inventory to submit to editors. I had no marketing plan, however, and I wrote not for the market, which disgusted me at the time, but as an independent author. That is, I wrote for myself and for other rebels like me, if there be any such rebels.
Since my head had been in the sand for so many years, it was ground down into a point by the particulars of production and consumption. With my life's savings in hand, I struggled to free myself from the division of labor and the pursuit of particular things associated with the commodity fetish and its abstract god Money. The first grand universal I encountered was my subjective "hysterical" self, a romantic self prone to lamenting the modern world and its accursed materialism. Little did I know that my self-spelunking and narcissistic self-reflections would lead to an absurd, meaningless life, and, eventually, to faith in Nothing. Incidentally, that life was a happier one while the funds held out.
My Struggle is recorded as a series of freely associated stories and musings, in a little manuscript entitled sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO. Since then I have moved on to more objective things - even the more so now that I need some income. I am not so interested in my "self" any more, not since I began to doubt its substantial existence. I now think of myself as nobody if not nothing. Mind you that my Nobody still sharpens his sticks in the fire from time to time, and my Nothing exists in a totalitarian sense. Still, sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO bores me now.
Bertrand Russell remarked that he found the cosmos much more interesting than his boring self. Indeed! Thoughts must have objects, actions must have aims, lives must have purposes. My early scrawlings are boring, I suppose, because they are inconsequential beatings around the bush: no "self" was flushed out, and the hunt was abandoned. So what? My struggle might have a consequence if accepted by a publisher. At least frustrated rebels would see where vain rebellion so often leads: back to those who said, "We told you so." And no doubt those who said that would find some gratification in the confirmation.
I was so bored by my first book when I retrieved it from the files that I was tempted to burn it. If I am bored by my own creation, I thought, surely no editor will appreciate it. Then I remembered how much Madame Bovary bored Gustav Flaubert during the writing. But Madame Bovary was a real masterpiece, carefully contrived to present the illusion of reality, not a discombobulated expression of a man's disconcerted musings. On second thought, I thought, maybe our underlying reality is virtually incoherent or unwhole, and maybe our pointed pursuit of things objective is just as unwholesome or insane. I decided to show a few chapters of sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO to my fellow writers; I asked them if the work is boring or not, and, if boring, whether or not it should be thrown away.
The answers of course were various. One writer said the work bored him, but should not be thrown away. Another said the excerpt was well written shit. A British writer, who recalls the world war and existentialism, liked it very much.The writer who commented at greatest length said she was not interested in it at all. She could not ascertain whether or not the work is a parody or other form of humorous expression: she did not know how seriously to take it - maybe it was just an expression of "juvenile self-importance", she thought. Further, she said the writing was highly elaborate, inflated, pointless, inconsequential, purposeless and pretentious. In sum, after reading it, she said, "So what?"
She got the point! Her criticism motivated me to submit sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO to publishers instead of following my initial inclination to burn it - after all, I am a rebel. As a matter of fact, the work was a pointless protest against leading a pointed life. Of course I was not trying to be pretentious at the time: I was sincere. Of course, if the whole world is a stage upon which we are actors (Gk. hypokrites), human life, with all its role playing, is a pretense, some of us being more sincere than others in their pretenses. I believe that people who know they are acting are wiser than most.
I have often received the impression that, as far as my negative critics are concerned, they have a right to exist and to behave in their own way, which they presume to be right and customary, but I have no right to exist and to express my own feelings and mood in my way. I do not begrudge them their criticism, for we are all critics, and I often feel the same way; criticism, no matter how "objective", elablorates praise and blame. It seemed at the time that my existence as represented by my work was inconsequential. And that is precisely the gist of sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO! At least I was being sincerely inconsequential instead of raising the usual pretences, faiths and the like. Not that I mind that others believe that their lives and doings are far more superior than mine because they think they have a grand purpose and consequence of that purpose - success, heaven and the like.
sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO is dedicated to an editor who rejected an autobiographical essay I wrote several years ago, a pointless essay entitled 'Introduction to Myself'. The editor scribbled a note on the standard rejection slip: my essay was pointless, he wrote, and had no merit. I had given him such a bad impression with my first submission that he asked me not to submit anything else to him. Egads! I threw the essay into the trash, but soon retrieved it, dusted it off, and made it the first chapter of sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO.
The editor's rejection of that essay inspired me to write sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO, one pointless essay at a time. I resolved to dedicate my book to him and to other editors who might share his sentiment. He brought out the rebel in me. A brief personal history of my rebellion is in order here, in the mode of True Confessions.
You see, I was a forlorn little boy after polio took my mother. My rebellion was beaten into me by my stepmother. She enjoyed accusing me of doing things I had not done, and would beat me accordingly. Fortunately my father saved me on one occasion: she had knocked me unconscious from behind and was kicking me on the floor; I might have checked out for good if my dad had not shown up that day.
Alas, my father was not around on other pressing occasions: he was working long hours to save the whole family. However, he did show me how to escape from reality, whatever it is, into the wonders of literature, and I developed a love for reading. I liked to escape into my room or into the garage and read one book after another. I could barely understand Dickens when I was eight years of age, but my imagination served my escapist purpose. I loved reading Dumas, Melville, and eventually the Russian authors intrigued me.
I was disturbed in my hiding places. The atmosphere in the house was oppressive in between the yelling and screaming matches. Hence I ran around town and did some of the delinquent things my stepmother had accused me of doing long before I thought of doing them. Eventually I could not stand the home life at all: I ran away from home shortly after my thirteenth birthday.
I soon learned to work hard for my living, but I always longed to quit working and to be my juvenile self, the rebel who reads and writes as he likes. I did just that, in 1997. Now, seven years later, I have submitted sCrAwLiNgS fRoM LiMbO to a publisher. It is rather boring to me now, but not too boring to elaborate on from time to time.