My "stress card" is green with a blue tinge, so I'm not completely stressed out this morning, but the last few hours have been tense. The computer is really driving me to frenzied frustration. Like most people, I try to control my general anxieties by narrowly focusing them on one, apparently soluble problem, which I hope will be the key to moving on to confront the next, more difficult problem. The difficult problems are too scary to face without that shield.
Here, roughly, is the hierarchy, starting at the top, the absolutely most scary:
A) Disappearance: not mere physical death; that doesn't bother me. In fact, I imagine it as a well-deserved rest, and also an easy escape from all those unfulfilled obligations, whatever they may be when the time comes (unpaid Con Ed bills, forgotten birthday greetings, etc.). No, my fear is rather of ceasing to be recognized by other people as existing, which, when you come right down to it, is the only evidence I have that I do exist. If Susana should die, for example (she is in good health, but one never knows), a lot of that confirmation would evaporate. Regular royalty statements from the publishers of Hispanic Nation would be a lesser, but still significant confirmation -- but for complicated, unexplained and inexcusable reasons (mostly related to the bankruptcy of the original publisher, Carol Publishers), I'm still not receiving them -- though a search on Google shows that the book is still being used in classes, so somebody must be buying it (or else they're all using the same old library copies, on reserve). I don't expect money from the book (I did expect some, and was given false hopes), but at least I want some formal statement of sales.
B) Silence. So my strategy against disappearance includes writing more things that people will read. This seems easier to face than the vaguer fear of just evaporating into nothingness, and also a guarantee against that event. My body can die, but if my words are read, something of my spirit will continue to haunt the planet. Fine. So I write. That seems to be under my control. But this strategy is not valid unless I'm writing my own real things, that express my peculiar being. Writing just to get published is cheating, because what would be left wouldn't be me.
C) Publication, to get that confirmation of my existence. Given my feelings about writing, and that I don't (probably couldn't) tailor my work for the market, that's tough, but not -- I'm certain -- impossible. All I have to do is persist in my search for others (agents, editors, publishers) who (because they have equally quirky imaginations, or are very bold, or maybe just have bad judgement) will work with me. It's happened before.
D) So now I've got my stress channeled down to something I can deal with: Writing letters & e-mails and producing more interesting prose. And my computer fails me! Repeatedly. And this after hours of trying to discover why it keeps stalling, forcing me to restart and lose data, and when I hardly have the resources for any major replacement of either hardware or software. I would risk spending money on technical help, if I could only figure out what sort of technician to go to -- is this an Apple Computer problem, or (my guess) one of my many software conflicts?
So I've got to deal with D to get to C and improve B and create some safeguard against A. Well, now that I've written all this, guess I'll put it on my blog, if nothing else as a way of storing it.