freaking out about philicio nightly

I’ve mentioned it in passing a coupla times by now but, as of yesterday, I’m halfway through the second draft of the script for my first radio drama, THE BALLAD OF PHILICIO NIGHTLY, which’ll be released in (I think) three episodes on the Thousand Movie Project Podcast and I made a trailer for it and everything.

I’m excited!

Also kinda terrified, though. Like the trailer feels kinda cringy, cuz I’m so over the top with it, and also the title is kinda the sorta thing my relatives will blink about and say, “Uh-huh…so…this is…”

Like I’m cringing to even imagine how the sentence might pan out.

There’s so much content on the web that obviously the majority of people to whom you’d wanna target your work are just not gonna see it. And if they do see it, they probably won’t consume it, won’t engage.

Which is fine, I understand it.

What stresses me out is the way that, even if we don’t consume or engage with a particular piece of content, we do tend to notice whether other people are engaging with it. If it’s been produced by somebody in our network, if it’s on our radar, we at least like to keep track of who’s attracting an audience and who isn’t.

And I’m finding, strangely, that what freaks me out more than the idea of being ignored is people noticing that I’m being ignored. Especially with something like PHILICIO NIGHTLY where, with the hand-illustrated trailer and the voiceover, the several drafts of a script, all the little details in the recording itself–it’s clear that I’ve put a ton of time into this.

I’m proud of having put all that time into it…but that also feels like a liability.

Norman Mailer talked about something similar in this KCRW interview (hosted by my beloved Michael Silverblatt) from 1998. A few years earlier, he’d published a big difficult novel called Ancient Evenings that he’d been working on for eleven years. It was a critical and financial flop. And Mailer points out that the critics who’d never liked his writing, who maybe resented his bombastic public persona, loved to jump on that. The idea that this ostensibly masterful writer spent more than a decade working full-time on a hugely ambitious book that nobody liked.

So that’s my fear–and it was my fear with self-publishing the first section of Horny Nuns: for the past two and a half years I’d been talking about it on Facebook and Instagram, on the blog, and people had voiced a ton of interest. Lots of people said they wanted to read it. Well, once they have the opportunity to read it, once it’s out there, it’s no longer just this charming idea of The Book Alex is Writing.

Suddenly it’s something they can look at. Something they can critique.

If that opportunity never came up, they could always trust in the idea that I’m doing a good job at whatever it is I’m doing.

Which is scary.

What I know would be infinitely worse, though, is if I were on my deathbed, looking back, and taking a long inventory of all the projects that I’d abandoned, or hidden away, because I was afraid of people noticing that other people were ignoring it. It seems so asinine.

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