Just after the "publication" of SEEING THE UNSEEN, Part 2, I saw a comment somewhere that mentioned I was back and that we could all expect Part 3 sometime in December.
It's funny because it's true.
To my utter amazement and deep embarrassment, I discovered that even with three or four months between postings, I was still receiving around 1500 hits a day. That made me realize something: this site was like a casino on a desert road. Once it was all lit up, all neon and searchlights, lines of cars pulled up to the entrance and bustle and activity everywhere. Of course, since then it must often appear boarded up, tumbleweeds blowing through the chipped and bone-dry basins where the fountains once were, broken windows revealing large and empty rooms and a general state of abandoned dilapidation.
And still, 1500 people a day would drive by, looking for signs of life… slowing down a little, then hitting the gas and driving off, wondering how many times they would keep doing this before they finally got the message and gave up. It's especially ironic to me as the son of a hotel manager. I grew up around hospitality. I know better than that.
Let's just say I consider the past two years a near death experience.
I have been away; but not out of boredom or because bigger and better things came along. I have been silent quite a lot lately because I frankly didn't think I had much to say that I hadn't been said before. And so I have been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking. I have probably ten different essays lined up in my mind: it's like the arrivals at LAX on a clear night — the landing lights of jets sixty miles away slowly making their way to the runway.
But the focus, the click — That I have learned I cannot rush. I can spend days at this screen and get nothing — and believe me, I have written a lot that I just threw away — or I could wait. When it's not time, there's no way to force it out, and when the time comes, there's no way to keep it in.
Well, I think the time has come! I've said that before, and gone on to disappoint you — and perhaps this will be the same good-natured misunderstanding of my own nature. But I don't think so. Not this time.
Something profound happened after I posted SEEING THE UNSEEN, Part 2. The tone of the messages I received from all of you was very different than those I got back in the glory days of 2003, when I was knocking out a major essay every two weeks. No, these all had a very strong common theme, and it has moved me very greatly. Almost all had the same core message: I thought I was all alone. I thought I was the last sane person on the Earth. I didn't think anyone else could see how bad things have gotten. Thank you.
Well, first off — you're welcome. And I am deeply embarrassed that I have been absent so long. Also, as always my gratitude is boundless. I tried to answer every email I received, and was able to keep my head above water for about two days and then the tsunami hit. So thank you all for taking the time to write. I read every one of them and I cannot tell you how much those e-mails mean to me.
Much more importantly, it renewed the sense of… um…obligation — yeah, I guess that's the best way to put it — that I once felt, to help in whatever way I could to combat the despair and disinformation that was rising like a flood tide and showed no signs of abating.
So, here's what's going to happen, in order of what I at least think is increasing coolness:
First, consider the place re-opened. The comments section has been restored, starting today. I'll come back to that in a minute. Second, expect a general facelift and repainting in the near future. I'm off to Gainesville this weekend, (the house being watched by a contingent of Delta Force Operators so don't get any funny ideas), and a busy work week next week, but after that I should have some free time to fix up the joint. Third, I have been a busy bee and have finally — after a mere three years of procrastination — completely re-worked a Second Edition of SILENT AMERICA.
This is the book I meant to publish in the first place: All of the typos and spelling errors have been fixed, the margins are justified, there is even a table of contents, just like on them fancy store-bought books.
AND – and! — it includes both SANCTUARY and TRIBES, which were not included in the first edition for the compelling reason that they had not been written yet.
Also, there will be a hardcover! Something with a little more heft to throw at those skateboarding punks who refuse to stay the hell off your lawn!
The softcover proof is in the mail to me as I write this. We'll give it a final look-over, and when I am happy with everything I will take a day or two to re-format it for the hardcover edition. The fact of the matter is that I alone am responsible for the errors in the first edition. I rushed it to get it out by Christmas, and all of the meticulous proofing done on my behalf was simply screwed up because a certain nameless idiot (paraphrasing Principal Skinner: "Let's call him B. Whittle… no, that's too obvious. Let's just say it was Bill W.") accidentally deleted the proofed files on the way to the printer.
I've been reluctant to really promote the book because of all of the defects in the actual printing caused completely by Unnamed Idiot. But my amends are en route, hopefully better late than never. More updates on that in a week or so.
Continuing with my efforts to reduce the suck:
Fourth, SEEING THE UNSEEN Part 3 is essentially written in my head, but I am going to put that on deck, to concentrate on the something that I am on fire about: an idea that will at minimum generate some thought and a few laughs, but also just might completely change the World As We Know It and Save Civilization Entire. Which one will it be? Well, Thank God, that is actually not up to me. It is up to you! Aha! The worm turns! Soon we will see who is lazy and Away from their Post!
That idea is the soul I was looking for, the spinal column for the new collection of essays. It's the theme I needed to get away from re-writing SILENT AMERICA every time I sat down, and I believe I have found the way out and the way in. I've been waiting and reading and thinking, hanging on for the click.
And now I can't wait. It's coming next. It starts with an essay called YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It's different. It's not just an essay, or a series of essays. It's not just a book. It's a social experiment. I hope it will be a sturdy little boat in times of rising waters. We'll see.
So, to recap:
1. Comments are reopened. Re-introduce yourselves. Same bartender — that giant silver-backed ape I've known for forty years. It's always a little slow at first. Things will pick up come Happy Hour.
2. Re-design coming in the near future. A little paint goes a long way. You won't even see the Bondo!
3. The Second Edition of SILENT AMERICA — with forty new pages of essay goodness — will be available for presale next week, with hardcover and softcover deliveries within two weeks after that.
There will be a presale discount. As always, everything I charge for is available for free on the right-hand margin. (I deeply admire capitalism — I just don't understand it very well. )
4. YOU ARE NOT ALONE is on short final. From what I have read so far (I get advance copies) it makes all the false starts of the last few years look like a giant pile of dog poo.
Can't talk now — cogitating. Be back soon. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. And try to get to know each other, because MUCH will depend on that in the days and weeks and years to come. If you've been a reader and never made a comment, now's your chance. Because what I want is a friendly place where people do not have to feel alone in a world that seems to be flying to pieces and whose last, best hope is the courage, intelligence and fundamental decency of the good people who never say anything.
(P.S. — If any of you speak latin, could you please e-mail me at [email protected]? I have a motto for the website, and I need a brute translation. Thanks!)