Every once in a while I enjoy a good exercise in futility. Apparently. While others are busy making the same old tried and true resolutions, I’m sitting here taking punches and driving around in circles, all wrapped up in picking my Best of 2012. I’m looking for the top six things I’ve written- what for me were those watershed moments. A self-evaluation. A looking back over the year. These last few days I’ve convinced myself that I’ll come out of THAT knowing where I want to go in 2013.
I’m not sure it’s logical but creatively it’s what’s happening. And once I planted the seed there was no turning back. A countdown seemed like a nice way to end the year, holiday-ish, if not boringly conventional. I’m not sure if spending the sheer amount of brain power I have has been worth it, but it’s been a good enough learning experience and thing to do nonetheless.
Are you still with me? You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to!
So the task has been finding the broadest “sample” of writing and the goal to demonstrate my range and scope. This gleaned from over seven-hundred individual poems, stories and essays written without let up over the past year. One of the self-imposed criteria was I couldn’t write anything new during these few days (let’s make it fun right), and the only focus was assessing my own work, being mindful and thorough about what I’ve put out there, and of paramount importance: Where do I go from here?
Also an opportunity to further develop who I am as a writer and self-proclaimed craftsman who’s continually getting better in his craft. And with a fucking nod and a wink to the whole marketability thing too- all those people and all THAT encompasses. I mean if a person was stranded on a desert island and had only six things to read of Pete, what would they be? That sort of situation. Or how publishers say “send us your best work” and I silently reply “shut the fuck up!”. I do raise an eyebrow when they say such a thing in their submission guidelines. It’s not like I’ll send you my shit, okay? I put thought and passion into what I send and why I’m even romancing you in the first place. So why don’t you put a little thought and maybe passion into the experience as well? Bitches and whores! Incidentally, you ask for a fee, and want and demand an awful lot for a publication that no one seems to read. Sweat a little fucking blood would ya? I’m not looking for any favors. (Profanity for effect, pardonne moi).
The task at hand. The Best of 2012 isn’t intended for anything but my own ruthless mind bending. Seriously, if you’ve read something of mine already, I wouldn’t expect it be read again. Please. It’s a total rehash. And quite esoteric really. I’m not like over the moon with the final six at all, but that’s only because I could’ve picked an equally interesting other six. I’m only even talking about it to “sort through” it as they say. I do have an awfully wide sea to fish from and could’ve cast in many a direction. Needless to say, I’ve been reading and editing and listening to my own voice WAY too much over the last few days in order to choose wisely.
Just kidding (I mean what could you do?). I’m glad it’s all over, although sooner than expected. My intention was to count backwards the last six days of the year until New Year’s Day when I hit number one. Then fireworks? I rushed the last couple of days because I couldn’t stand it anymore. Meanwhile I started breaking my own rules and writing new material on the sneak. Like what you’re reading here- I’m not supposed to be writing this! I was in a state of denial about it too, hiding it from myself, like a crack addict might. Writing in secret? How far is my head stuck up my ass here?
Paging Dr. Freud!
Of the six that wound up gracing the final list, I like each individual piece well enough and each has its own reason for being there. I tried to best represent poetry, fiction and essays and include love and hate and humor and God and the ridiculous and Johnny’s first wife and you get the picture. I included both published and unpublished writing that in its time had taken me to a certain new height in what is a very fledgling and modest writing “career”. I’m pleased enough with the outcome and the choice for number one.
I wrote Prophets and Sages in one of my usual writing fogs, and laughed my way through most of it (and still do). It’s typical of many “poems” that I write as the idea and frame of it came quickly, and the commanding and anachronistic voice and tone was there from the beginning. The excessive overstyle and puffiness was the point and the content was the last thing to make it. Does that make sense? I mean making the whole thing make sense came last. I really didn’t care much about that to be honest. Saying this has often gotten strange reactions from people (or no reaction at all), as if me saying something means nothing means the whole thing is meaningless. I sit here and say “well, au contraire”. Often the sound of the words and the style is the whole end in and of itself. For me anyway. We don’t have to walk away from everything with a life-lesson, do we? Does everything have to have a deep and profound motive or purpose? Anyway, the poem does have what is a perfectly inserted and fun sentence, in a world that is made up of many suspect and questionable sentences:
“Have you noticed the run on chill pills?”
Yup. You can always count on me to be reliably tongue-in-cheek. My Best of 2012 list had to represent who I am personally to some degree, but mostly had to show my willingness to go where I went.
Let’s wrap things up here.
To those who have generously spent time reading something of mine in 2012, that’s all I ever want to do. I never set out to give the people what they want, sorry to say, although it’s not a matter of sorry. Often I’m butterflies and meadows and on many days a one-man circus, but my intent is only to one-up myself and go somewhere new. Is that selfish? I don’t think so. It’s about keeping it fresh and being a better man really. And if someone steps out of their comfort zone in any way shape or form, good or bad, that’s just fatty gravy on the turkey leg of life. If in my pursuit to be daring you get something unexpected out of it, very cool. If you escape for a moment or two, even better. If you laugh out loud be it with me or at me, ROCK ON. My whole making of a Best of 2012 list isn’t at all risky-I take bigger risks on the most ho hum of days. But it did teach me that I do a pretty good job of pushing and putting myself out there. Enough to keep it all meaningful anyway. And to keep going. Sometimes exercises in futility take too much energy. And I’m more than ready to move on. Thank Christ the whole sordid affair’s in my rear view.
So here’s to a new year of nailing a whole bunch more jello on the wall recklessly, unabashedly, and with abandon.