The Journal of Failure – Week 17 of 2020

Week 17 of 2020 – 29 April to 5 May 2020

Goals

Reading

  • Goal – 100 / day, or 700 / week
  • Achieved – 177/700 – Failure!

Writing – I Remember

  • Goal – 14 / week
  • Achieved – 11/14 – Failure!

Writing – Small Projects (Fragments, short stories, etc)

  • Goal – 1 minutes / day or 7 minutes / week
  • Achieved – 9 minutes – Success!

Writing – Large Projects

  • Goal – 3 minutes / day or 21 minutes / week
  • Achieved – 12 minutes – Failure!

Getting myself out there

  • Short story reviews – Two (Two total for the year)
  • Submissions – Zero (Zero total for the year)
  • Rejections – Zero (Zero total for the year)
  • Acceptances – Zero (Zero total for the year)

Commentary

Week 17!

Ah, and so, that old vice raises its head. Alcohol.  I blame the long weekend – well, no, I blame myself.  Myself.

The week started ok but it ended pretty poorly.  I am the kind of person who can drink alcohol without issue in terms of how it makes me feel the next day, except that my mind cannot focus on anything.  Physically I’m fine (maybe just tired), and mentally I’m ok except that I only really have the ability to focus on or enjoy YouTube and the like.  Which is a real bummer.

Here in Queensland, Australia, we had a number of restrictions relaxed, which essentially meant that we could see other people for the first time.  And so, my brother visited on Saturday.  We saw some friends on Saturday.  We saw my wife’s parents on Monday.  Drinks all round, celebrations all round.  Because there are so many small children the days started earlier, but boy they didn’t finish earlier!

Anyway, all of this is to say that it’s my fault and I should be better.

In terms of writing, I spent a small amount of time (12 minutes!) reconnecting with a larger piece I wrote a few years back about Rasputin.  I think there’s something to it, but I also recognise that I likely need to start its from scratch to regain the flow.  But there’s something there, I think.  It’s a touch too heavily influenced by Roberto Bolaño.  He is an author I admire very much as of today’s date (7 May 2020), but for whom I no longer feel an unhealthy obsession.  He’s a very important writer to me, but not as important as he was in my twenties or early thirties.  So, rewriting would benefit me and the project because I could smooth out some of those overt influences.

The shorter work involves a plump, cigarette-smoking widower in Belarus who is trying to untangle himself from the illicit smuggling empire his university-friend is running.  It’s not too bad.  I need to determine what kind of word count I’m aiming towards in order to give it stronger focus, but that will come as I continue writing it.

It should be noted that I am astonishingly aware that these goals are miniscule, and that not meeting them suggests a lack of interest in writing altogether.  Oh yes, I wrestle with that.  My heart wishes to write the most when I am incapable of doing so – it is the yearning, perhaps, that attracts me the most.  Having written is simply wonderful, though, and the times after the times where I have sat down to write are among the most satisfying of my life.

I finished just two books this week, and both of them were already well along by the time the week rolled by.

The first was Guy de Maupassant’s Pierre and Jean.    Not too bad.  Not too bad.  Pierre and Jean are brothers.  One of them inherits a fortune from a family friend, and one does not.  This leads Pierre (the “does not”) to become consumed with jealousy toward his brother; he wallows in misery, despondency, and suspicion towards others, which culminates in the primary thrust of the novel, which is whether or not their mother was unfaithful.  The first few pages (deliberately) impress upon the reader that this will be an inheritance novel, and then it swerves into something darker.  But not too dark, and therein lies the problem – Pierre plods gloomily about and then the book ends.  Not too bad.

Lastly, László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango, which I finished as I started – underwhelmed.  I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the final ten or twenty pages, as I thought we were done with writers writing books where a character writes the start of the book in the final pages.  Yikes, I really did.  But otherwise, the mood Krasznahorkai sets is clear and effective – this is a gloomy, decaying, dark, grimy world.  And perhaps that is my problem.  I am not squeamish but nonetheless such matters are not to my taste.  There is something extremely unappealing to me about grubbiness.  Evil I can handle – Mikhail Bulgakov’s examination of Satan (and the rest) in The Master and Margerita or Roberto Bolaño’s glimpse into the abyss with 2666, or the demonic dwarf in Pär Lagerkvist’s The Dwarf.  These are all fine.  The Dwarf is perhaps the closest in terms of gloominess and grubbiness, but it’s offset by Lagerkvist’s humour and the excess of personality displayed by Piccoline.  So perhaps what I am looking for is levity.  Those reviewers who suggest that Krasznahorkai is funny are, well, differently made than I.

And that was my week of failure.

Each week I aim to provide an update on the Journal of Failure.  These reports are intended to provide an impetus for me to achieve as much as I should/more than I do, and also to provide a further ongoing record of my life, as it is. 

2 thoughts on “The Journal of Failure – Week 17 of 2020

    1. I own all of his books, and bought them all on the strength of recommendations from Twitter and elsewhere. But… no, not for me. At least, not that one. At some point I’m sure I’ll read more, but I just don’t care for that kind of writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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