Mr. Sensitive

September 14, 2011

Operation Finish-Off

Filed under: Uncategorized — lbej @ 09:10

Have you ever experienced one of those redemptive moments in which you realize—no, you remember—that every autonomous aspect of your life is opposed to you and must be diminished, dismantled, or destroyed outright?  Of course you haven’t.  But really, you should.  As long as you keep the elements of your existence off-balance and isolated, as long as you remain vigilant in standing against any permanent constellations of coincidence, you will be in a position to finish off your enemies before they even know that they are your enemies.  Which, of course, is the best time to finish them off.

I don’t read many books.  I did once, and then I started writing books and I thought my time was best spent in that way.  I still think that, don’t get me wrong.  That’s why all the reading I’ve done over the past year has been unusual.  I read a lot of material under normal circumstances, but little that rises to the level of a book—articles, encyclopedia entries, speeches, vignettes, poems and plays, but nothing that I can’t start and finish in a day.  But I count eight honest-to-goodness books that I’ve read in the past year.  Here’s the list:

  • Zero History – William Gibson
  • Stalin – Dmitri Volkogonov
  • Frederick the Great – Robert Asprey
  • Napoleon’s Marshals – R.F. Delderfield
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Lords of Finance – Liaquat Ahamed
  • And oh yes, The Hunger Games

I’m not sure whether to count that last one, not because it’s somehow unworthy, but because Katie read it aloud to me and so it’s a shared experience.  We’re reading The Hunger Games trilogy as a way of having fun together, and I’ve read the others, all of them, in an effort to find something that I need.  I’ve been thinking explicitly that I need to find a missing piece of the puzzle that is my own fourth novel.  It could be some new information, or an alternate perspective, or maybe just a single word—I don’t know.  And now I think I’ve been going about it the wrong way.

I don’t need anything for this book.  Should I want to complete the book, to find for it the parts of its presumptive whole that are missing?  Think about that: complete it, find things for it—these are efforts you would make on behalf of a friend.  Is this book my friend?  Do my friends resist me whenever and wherever I advance?  Do my friends hide from me when I beg to see them?  Do my friends tease me, confuse me, frustrate me?  Do they weaken my resolve and undermine my confidence?  Friends don’t do those things; enemies do.  This book, as none before it, is my enemy.  I will not complete it; I will finish it.

I have weapons.  I have ten thousand words already written and I have more research in support of this project than I could bring to bear for any of the prior three.  I’ve been working on other projects in my office, but now I’m in a position to convert it entirely to a war room.  I’m not to the point of maps and timetables yet, and I still lack the true offensive spirit—I must remain on the offensive throughout—but I have begun to hate this book, and hatred is where it begins.



  1. You can do it, toogie. And I’ll do anything I can to help. Including reading you the next book in the Hunger Games trilogy.

    Comment by euregirlsandboys — September 14, 2011 @ 09:52 | Reply

  2. This morning I woke up and one of my first thoughts was about you and the book you’re writing. Isn’t that weird?

    Comment by Charlotte — September 14, 2011 @ 13:19 | Reply

    • That is weird. You know what else is weird? LEE is up 55% today following my declaration of war on, effectively, my own stupid head. The #2 FSX stock of the week so far? MSTR, up 17%.

      Comment by lbej — September 14, 2011 @ 14:47 | Reply

      • Um, that’s awesome. Do you feel like you’re up? I hope you are.

        Comment by euregirlsandboys — September 14, 2011 @ 15:29

  3. That all makes perfect sense. You’ll win the war.

    Comment by Justin Eure — September 15, 2011 @ 16:48 | Reply

  4. I borrow this mentality from you a lot, you know — the idea of declaring war on the outlier pieces of myself that prevent me moving forward. Really, it’s the militaristic tone I like and try to emulate. The only reason (I think) I conquered the parts of me that were destroying my peace at the start of the year — the obsessive thoughts and anxiety — was by declaring a kind of war on them. I really did. And it seems to have worked. I began to recognize that part of myself as a separate entity, which sounds like Gollum, only I don’t mean it quite that literally. It’s just that a warlike approach to self-improvement, or to any task, sometimes works the best. It’s why I beat the children at school as often as I can.

    Anyway, I am really, really glad you’re attacking this book. I think back on your first three books more than you’d guess. They’re great. I can’t wait to see this one.

    Comment by Marcus — September 17, 2011 @ 17:06 | Reply

    • This is going to be a tough one because I can’t use my favorite tactic, the irrevocable leap. I can’t think of a way to make it so that I have no choice but to finish the job somehow. That’s what I want: not to be told what to do, but to have to do something. I don’t like being put in a position where I have no choices, but it’s wonderfully frightening to know that going back to the status quo ante isn’t one of the choices I can make. My greatest victories have come when that has been the case.

      Comment by lbej — September 17, 2011 @ 17:24 | Reply

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