So, despite what you may have read online, I’m still alive.
One of the good parts about being at death’s door for a month and change was the cutting off of communication. For the most part, I avoided Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. I avoided the forum. I avoided email. I avoided the phone (in part because my friends and family knew I was physically incapable of talking for long, so they refrained from calling). I still recorded a podcast every week (and spent much of the next subsequent day coughing up blood and feeling like someone had scraped a razor along the inside of my throat). But the podcast was pretty much my only communication with the outside world at large.
None of this could have happened at a worse time, of course. After all, I had a brand-new full-length novel, THE COMPLEX, to promote. I had a 2016 FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR to finish setting up. I had manuscripts and Kickstarter stuff to mail to people. I had THE NAUGHTY LIST business to attend to. I had emails to answer and things with deadlines to write. Instead, I spent most of my time on four different antibiotics and being told things like, “It’s strange. You have all the symptoms and signs of H1N1, and yet we can’t find the virus in your system. Also, you shouldn’t be standing up.”
I felt guilty about all of this until the third week, when my eight-year-old commented that it was nice not to have Daddy’s phone dinging all the time (which it does every time I get a new email).
And that — that moment right there — is when I learned to quit feeling guilty and quit giving a shit what people say or think. I’ll promote that new novel and set up that signing tour and mail everything and answer emails and phone calls and respond on social media. Eventually. But it won’t all get done today, and I refuse to feel guilty about that anymore. And the moment I quit feeling guilty, I actually managed to start getting a handle on all of it.
I made some progress over the last week. Here is a picture of my email inbox.
That is 1,032 UNREAD emails. It’s important to stress the unread part. And when I started, that figure was at 2,185. But there are still a lot to get to, and I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to feel guilty about it anymore.
Entertainers — authors, musicians, actors, comedians, etc. — they get to a certain point in their career where they just stop responding to everyone. And then people turn on them and say how they changed, and how they used to take time to respond to each and every person, and now they don’t, and because of that they are an asshole. Well, no, they’re not an asshole. They just don’t have the fucking time. It becomes physically impossible to do, and unless you decide to stop feeling guilty about it, the mental and emotional distress it causes will subsequently stop you from responding to anything, even the stuff you HAVE to respond to. Worse yet, it can cripple your creative process, as well. You get to feeling that you owe everybody everything, and unable to cope with that, you give nothing to nobody. And the folks you really do owe something to suffer as a result.
Anyway… I’m alive. Not dead yet. Still going blind in that left eye, but that’s another medical problem for another day. Today I’m not coughing up blood or baking with fever or showing any of the signs or symptoms of H1N1, regardless of whether they can find the fucking virus or not. I might be dead tomorrow. After all, my friends are dropping like flies. But not today. If I owe you a package or an email or a phone call or a manuscript, I’ll do my best to get it to you. I’m making progress. But one thing the last two years have taught me, is that we all reach the Finish Line sooner or later, regardless of whether we run or walk. And the faster I run the more I seem to stay in place, so now I’m trying a different approach. It won’t stop the requests coming in, but it will allow me to focus on the ones that need to get done today, and the ones that need to be gotten to tomorrow, and the ones that can wait until I get there.
Of course, the beautiful irony of this whole thing is that I’m typing this as a Blog entry, and nobody reads Blogs anymore, so Facebook and Twitter will still be full of requests from people who didn’t read this.
When the apocalypse comes, it won’t be zombies or a virus or Nibiru or the Antichrist or a nuclear war. It will be social media. And it will be us.
THE COMPLEX is available in paperback and eBook. A lot of critics and fans are saying it’s the best thing I’ve written in years. Click here to buy a copy and see if you agree.
The 2016 FAREWELL (BUT NOT REALLY) TOUR is shaping up to be a beast. This will absolutely be the last time I do an extended, nationwide promotional tour like this. Click here to see where and when. Plenty of more states and dates to be added yet. Oh, and there’s even going to be tour t-shirts!
Exciting audiobook news coming, but I think we’ll save that for later in the week…