The Six-Hundred and Eighty-Four Cents (After Taxes) Bionic Man
Spent the morning plugged into a treadmill at Kaiser in an effort to find out why I haven’t been breathing like my old self. Electrodes and wires dangling everywhere. Have they made bionic lungs yet? Are they covered? Will people make fun of my now-patchy chest hair?
While not breathing, I started thinking about stress, which, you know, kind of defeats the purpose. Thinking about stress convinced me that I was suffering a heart attack on Saturday.
“Do you want me to take you to the ER?” asked the Fireplug.
I paused from checking my pulse for the seventh time and whispered, weakly, “Let’s finish this episode of Southland first.”
I crossed a sort of threshold over the weekend, where I stopped looking at stress as a modern badge of honor. I suppose not breathing will convince anyone to entertain the ludicrous idea of slowing down.
When anyone asks me what I’m going to write next, after this family memoir that’s swallowed nine years of my life, after PTSD and therapy and suicidal ideations, I joke that I want to write fiction so that I can just make shit up.
After I finished writing and posting A Story About a Very Bad Thing, my excitement for the idea of fiction began to build. Frankly I didn’t know if I had the correct amount of perspective anymore, after the batshit craziness of the past four months, to finish the memoir. And starting a new project might actually make finishing the first book easier, by redistributing some of the obligational weight.
I sat with the idea for a couple of weeks, to make sure it wasn’t just another compulsive distraction that I regularly cook up to keep me from dealing with Oh-God-My-Family-Is-So-Fucked.
And once I started thinking about the new book, and scribbling down some ideas, I realized that fiction would allow me to confront the batshit craziness, but in a metaphorical kind of way that felt liberating. And then, strangely enough, and for the first time in months, I started to actually feel better.
So starting tomorrow I’ll be posting the (nice and short) chapters from my new novel online. SUICIDE SKIN is a thriller about a girl, a monkey, and an alien invasion. My goal is to write a darkly engaging page-turner. Or screen-scroller. Or, well, you get my drift.
I should add that I’ve written exactly one chapter so far. It’s my goal to post as I write, a prospect that pretty much scares the living shit out of me, and so it kind of negates the whole liberation-from-stress angle. But maybe, if I can push past the need for polished perfection, I’ll get back to liberation. It’s supposed to be a thriller, after all.
As for posting it free online, well, why the hell not? Publishing is all kinds of fucked right now, I’m writing to save my life, and in the process I hope to entertain you.