Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter


Fighting the black dogs

I spent most of yesterday evening, last night, and today fighting against the double broadside of unwanted and frustrating physical ailments and an attack by not one black dog but a whole pack of black dogs, coming to the conclusion that this really had to be the point at which I said, “Ok, I’ve had enough, I’m not doing this anymore, because no-one wants to hear me, no-one wants to read me, and I’ve done my very best with it.” And decided to stop social networking, to stop using twitter and facebook, and to use only email or private messaging to communicate with those people I know and who might want to stay in touch with me.
Ok, so far.
Decision made, I went to the dentist, something I always enjoy, as I find it relaxing, and also a test of my powers of relaxation. When the dentist offered to numb my mouth before drilling for one of the fillings, I declined (I’ve had drilling done without anaesthetic before, when a doctor told me I might be allergic to whatever analgesic they use in those injections, the feeling of which sliding into my gums I enjoy, too, I have to admit, but not the feeling then of not being in control of my face). I was pleased with the way I controlled my breathing, felt no pain (the suction tube sandwiching my lips against my upper jaw hurt more than the drilling, which I didn’t actually feel). My spirits climbed, briefly, because I was enjoying something not many people enjoy, because I was achieving a target I’d set myself. And then it was all over. I paid my money, left the dentist, drove home to where I knew I’d left my cigarettes.
Enter the cold house, and the black dogs and the physical symptoms come storming out of the shadows again, running round my feet like the over-excited little demons they are, and jump back into my head and body without me being able to resist them. Back to Square One, and back to trying to shut out the world and try to hibernate in some way or another until it’s all over.
So, on the day job treadmill, clicking this, clicking that, entering data and comments into my database, reading emails, answering emails, ploughing on and on, and I turn on BBC Radio Norfolk, because everything on Radio 1 sucks except for Zane Lowe (although he can occasionally be very suck-uppy to stars), because Radio 2 nose-dives after Chris Evans (whom I’ve started listening to because my favourite DJ, Simon Saynor, who did Sine FM’s Breakfast Show, has finished after four and a half years) and Ken Bruce, because I love Stephen Bumfrey and Thordis Fridriksson, partly because they gave me a chance to go back onto the programme again and again, and still invite me back because they like who I am, and partly because they play good music, and the chat between 2 and 4 every weekday afternoon is hilarious, or riveting, or educational, or all three at once.
And that’s how I came to be listening to Franko Fraize, a rapper from Thetford, at twenty to four in the afternoon, the mist rising, the darkness already descending, talking to Thordis, and telling it how it is, for artists trying to get a break. Ok, he was talking about music, but it could equally well be applied to writers published for the first time, or writers who are self-published, or writers who are just finding their way. What he said, and I paraphrase, was “If you want to go and do something, you’ve got to go and do it. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. And if you’re doing it and don’t like the hustle, don’t moan about it.” That sort of woke me up. I can’t just give up on the words and on the books, nor on the causes, like pulpculturemagazine, like local music and writers, like the libraries campaign nationally, that I support, no matter how I feel inside. I need to marry the wastedness with something that’ll grow.
And there I am, back on the networks in my head, because no-one will have noticed me not contributing for a day (which is a good thing not to be noticed for something like that). So there I am, deciding that I will plug Dead Menagain, after I finally managed to persuade my recalcitrant publisher to cut 75% off the price of all ebook versions for December (though I didn’t manage to persuade them to cut the paperback price or to think again about supporting a new talent for more than one book and taking on A Fear of Heights after all).
And here I am, back plugging my self-published The Failed Assassin again, because it’s one of the best serious erotica novels anyone could hope to read, because there are five fabulous hand-bound copies, works of art, of it for sale at £50 each (and I’ll do a separate post explaining exactly why I’ve done that), and because I finally decided to do a paperback copy of it after all. I’ve got to get my words to market somehow, even if they reflect my black-doggedness, even if my black dogs want to discourage me from doing something, anything, and would rather I sat here under my SAD light realising it wasn’t really working, and descended into the dark for always.
So, here’s to not being helpless under siege, here’s to even momentary relief from bleakness, and here’s to celebrating my words, my achievements, because after all, the effort’s been all mine, just like the efforts of all artists have been theirs, no-one else’s, because it’s always 95% perspiration, 5% inspiration.
And, if after all that, you don’t want to order a signed, dedicated copy of Dead Men as a Christmas present for all your family, friends and enemies, I still won’t give up.

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