I want to start again. I want to write a book that has nothing to do with any of the books I’ve written before. This is the kind of book you write when you think you might soon be dead.
A book to make enemies, to take revenge on people who most likely don’t deserve it. Should I keep the names the same or change them? I will change the names. The world is small enough. Those who care about such things will figure it out. Gossip is a false mystery that must be solved.
A few seconds ago I felt confident I would openly slander people and now, still on the first page, I am no longer sure it is a good idea, this oscillation being so familiar it hurts.
I’m still on the first page and, already, I know I basically won’t slander anyone. And yet, still, I want to start again. I always want to start again.
For me, over the course of a lifetime, five books feels like the right number for a single author to write. I have now written five: Unrehearsed Beauty, Families Are Formed Through Copulation, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, Polyamorous Love Song and Rich and Poor. (I have also written three others, a very long time ago, under another name, which I don’t count or think about.) I have written five books and therefore am done.
Yet writing these books has been a kind of therapy. Having something to work on each day, to struggle with, give focus, take my mind from my more terrifying, regular, existential mental habits.
I don’t think of my books as being for the benefit of my mental health. I think of them, mainly, as being for readers. To read, be provoked by, possibly enjoy. Five books feels like enough. It feels unnecessary to continue, and yet, obviously, I can’t quite stop.
There are people I want to slander, who I did not mention in any of my previous, more polite, more fictional, less neurotic, books. This is not a good reason to write book number six.
I have decided all those I intend to slander I will refer to as X. There are at least five or six different individuals, possibly as many as twenty, here all referred to as X. In this way it is a bit like I am slandering the entire world.
Of course, the real person I hope to slander is myself.