1: The Assholes In My Head. There are others, of course. There's Hitler, telling me my writing is bad for the Jews. There's my mother, telling me more or less the same thing, only angrier and without the German accent, which you might think makes it better but actually makes it worse because at least the German accent is hilarious.
Yes to the "FUCK OFF I'M WRITING TOGGLE".
Yes to the Freedom app. It's saving my sanity.
Yes to ignoring the news and politics and bullshit.
Yes to Piss and Shit: The Early Years.
My desktop motto: "To achieve success, care less. Every day."
It doesn't stop me from caring either.
Godspeed, friend in Substackophrenia.
I hate when I start pitting my writing against itself. "What's wrong with you all? Wednesday's essay was better than this piece of trash. Why are you all glomming onto Sunday's post? WHY DON'T YOU LIKE WEDNESDAY'S?" Substack really made my pieces into gladiators just obliterating each other.
I was looking for a wire in our box-of-wires yesterday and came across a bunch of old iPhones, most of them cracked, of course. Out of interest and nostalgia I plugged in one of the older looking ones and there was something so comforting about how difficult it was to use. I remember when phones were clunky, difficult to use, so you didn’t feel the need for that ahhhh-dopamine hit all the goddam time! And then when I was scrolling through some of the pics on there, I found some pictures that must have been for Instagram or maybe Hipstamatic, the app that nearly became Instagram and they were all “arty”, beams of light streaming into the picture, rain on a window pane with traffic lights on the other side. Nothing ground breaking, but they felt significant. You helped me see, with this piece, that i was seeing a brief glimpse of me before the algorithm changed what I posted. People probably didn’t “like” my posts, so I started posting different things. And I am here on Substack now trying to shake that Instagram algorithm, write shit I want to write, make it a place that feels true to me. Thank you for this piece! I needed to hear it! Now I am off to disable all my notifications!
I love you! And I hate you! You are the voice in my head. But I never dare to take you out for a walk. Not yet, at least. Thank you for this gold ❤️❤️
Oh my God this WHOLE essay! I just spent 30 minutes fretting about the voice - I read about chats being good for engagement so I thought I'd turn them on! Then I went looking for how to turn them on, couldn't figure it out on my own, got help from nice people, realized there was a suggested email to send out to subscribers, almost sent it and then thought WHAT IF NO ONE ANSWERS?
What if I ask a question on chats and not a soul replies that will be so embarrassing what if no one likes my writing what if what if what if. Anyway, you've captured the self-loathing that is being a writer perfectly. Thank you, Good Sir.
haha : " its not Rilke but its not bad" this piece is like the hardened perfect iron which comes of compressing all the defeats and pain and culling out of peripheral imaginative garbage and over centuries!!! lol the portrait of young artist with trowel and wall should be enshrined along with the rejected new yorker cartoon in a modest museum next to the one near or in arlington vt. (norman rockwell) this land is your land so funny
This is real pain. I feel you. Listen: there’s a smart writer who brings a stunning spirit of life into my darkest hours. You might like him too: Shalom Auslander.
Oh wait. That’s you.
Since you've turned off your notifications, I won't bother clicking the "like" button. Now, I can simply focus on leaving a comment! I appreciate your honesty and giving a name to this phenomenon. I struggle with it myself. And I also struggle with having too much to read on Substack. When established writers post a ton several times a week, I feel suffocated and imagine there isn't any more space for me to have a voice here. Who am I, after all, when the "giants" are out here churning out words everyone wants to read? I am nostalgic about the old days of blogging. Not sure if you have ever used Xanga. That existed about 20+ years ago. The "like" button didn't exist. There were no stats. But it was such a great experience for me. I made so many friends all over the world. People who weren't just "readers" but folks who were genuinely interested in your life, even if you are not a celebrity, and even if you don't publish stuff that is "useful" to others. People didn't show up for you just because they wanted you to comment on their posts or they felt they could make use of some information you shared. There wasn't a of hierarchy of power. We visited one another because we enjoyed the human connection. As simple as that. How I wish we could bring that back.
"One switch, please, one simple, easy-to-find switch that toggles off everything, and that also hides the Stats tab, and that also hides the Subscriber tab, something quick and easy at the top of the Writer Dashboard, something perhaps like this: FUCK OFF. I AM WRITING." A master toggle-off switch! Brilliant idea! Sign me up for that one.
Best advice of the day: "This is a really bad time to start caring what people think."
God is listening.
Might I suggest re-submitting your cartoon to the New Yorker.
I read House of Leaves in its entirety and still have no idea what it was about. The house moved. The end. Regarding social media, not that you care, but Substack was also my first venture into the mind fuck of social platforms. So, until recently, few people had ever read a word I'd written. Granted, I've only been writing for five years because I spent the first twenty-five years of my life pissing myself and crawling around strangers’ carpets for carelessly handling drugs, but … where was I? Never mind.
Whether you like it or not this is ‘writer personified’ level insight not to mention hilarious.
I love your writing. You’re one of my favorite writers - okay, if I stop being an asshole I’d say you are my favorite writer but the asshole in my head is shouting don’t blow him up too much. And I love this piece, both for the writer and reader. Merci buckets.
Good shit, Shalom. Look, don't feel bad for your cocoon. As Aeon Byte podcast host says, "Choose ecstasy over entertainment. "