everything you lose is a step you take*
“He’d tried to move forward. Did everything he was supposed to do in the name of it. Focused on the work in front of him, released another podcast after The Girls: a joint venture with that NYT prick, Paul Tindale, backed by his baby, SVO. It went . . . fine. But the shadow of West’s former glory dogged the project and Paul told him if he’d realized the name his participation would invoke was anyone else’s but their own, he’d have rethought the entire collaboration. Later endeavors would fall through for similar reasons, and those that didn’t only reached lower heights.”
- Greetings from Sunny Los Angeles: A West McCray Epilogue
Hi, kids. How about some news.
The audio version of Greetings from Sunny Los Angeles is now included on I’m the Girl’s audiobook, and is available wherever its audiobook is sold. Its inclusion should be mentioned in the description and, if not, the runtime will be over 8 hours. If you’ve already purchased it, you have it or have access to it. If you missed previous opportunities to find out what happens to West following his podcast, how Sadie fits into his life now, and how all roads lead to Aspera, here’s another.
Dan Bittner’s narration begins in the epilogue at 7 minutes and 29 seconds in and it’s beautifully done. I highly recommend experiencing his story this way. You can hear a sample of it by clicking the reel above.
Greetings is so important to me. I loved exploring West’s perspective. I have a real fondness for him. There was a lot to mine: West struggling with his shifting (ir)relevancy, what it does to an artist when impact overrides intention, the limitations this can impose on creativity. West is, for better and worse, a storyteller and beyond his most starfucking instincts, this is the part of him I know how to connect to and loved connecting to and ruthlessly tearing apart. In Sadie, he adapts to whatever the situation demands of him before the lines begin to blur, but even then, we don’t truly know him. In Greetings, you meet him when he is alone, and it’s revealing. A past drinking problem, a failed marriage, an undercurrent of not anger—but a real rage. One of the earliest titles of Sadie was Stories We Tell to Keep Ourselves Alive, which—ignoring the fact that it is terrible—is the way West is living his life now.
And the story he’s telling himself is killing him.
When I finished writing Greetings from Sunny Los Angeles, it felt like the punctuation on a specific set of stories. I’m 36; I was 22 when I introduced the world to Parker Fadley and, over the course of eight books, I built upon and then—with Lo, and finally Georgia—subverted the quintessential Courtney Summers protagonist. Those particular girls form a complete conversation now, and I’m so proud of it. A classic (and loving, I know) critique of those books is they lack endings.
Well—here it is.
Taylor Swift has eras and so should we all. I’m working on something I dreamed up over five years ago. It’s the kind of special the people I trust most about these types of things told me I couldn't abandon despite many moments I thought I really wanted to. The first of its impossible demands: patience. I understand now, why I had to wait so long to begin. That gradation of writing ability, its necessity. Some ideas won't make eye contact until they know you're ready and then, when they do, you're reminded of every writer you have the opportunity to become over the course of a creative lifetime. The knowledge that I was good then, that I'm even better now pushing me forward, any frustration of drafting offset by the fact every word feels so new, and so next. And let me tell you, that feeling of a book coming together and falling apart and coming together in a way that says it's well and truly arriving, of being the writer it gets to meet—
It never, ever gets old.
Some smaller updates:
I discovered Kevin Wilson was reading I’m the Girl while I was reading a Kevin Wilson book and Veronica Roth gives me too much credit. If you’re subscribed to an author’s newsletter, it stands to reason you might also like books, so I want you to know Now is Not the Time to Panic comes out next Tuesday, and Poster Girl released last month. I love them and I think you will too! Now is Not the Time to Panic is such an inimitably clever, energetically written and wonderfully sincere story about past and future nostalgia, life and art. Poster Girl is an unsparing and sharp exploration of what redemption can look like in a world that does not want to forgive you and is beautifully bold in its hard-earned tenderness.
You can buy my new book, I’m the Girl, here.
*Yes, I buried the lede on this newsletter: my favorite track on Midnights is—and the subheading was a hint—You’re on Your Own, Kid. That said: fully operating on Vigilante Shit 24/7.