Hunter Thompson, in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, coined the phrase bat country to refer to the desert between LA and Vegas, which is, actually, a pretty desolate stretch of wasteland, particularly when cannonballing late at night with amphetamine psychosis.
I have adopted the phrase, though, for my own nefarious purposes. It’s my personal name for where I am right now in my career as a writer.
I’ve left LA, but I’m not in Vegas yet. And I can’t stay here. The last year has been really rough on me, working my day job and putting all the other hours in the day into writing.
I can’t keep this up. I have to either find a way to make writing pay the bills, or let it fade away into a hobby and go back to my life before.
I’m not ready to give up, not yet. I feel like I’m somewhere east of Barstow, with a quarter tank of gas and a bad case of highway hypnosis, hoping to hit a truckstop before the car dies and leaves me stranded in the breakdown lane. But, you know, there’s nowhere to go but forward.
Thompson knew how to get through Bat Country. You fill the tank with the blood of IRS agents, over inflate the tires, shift into hijack gear and stomp your foot down until the engine screams and you see the edges of the hood glowing yellow-white. Sight down the hood ornament to the horizon and just move, serene in the knowledge that at this speed if you so much as tap a guardrail the Nevada Highway Patrol will be able to ship what’s left of you back home in a Folgers can.
I’ve been up and I’ve been down this past year. I’m sure that those of you who have been following me for any length of time are sick to death of me announcing that I’m going to give up and never write again. “What’s up?” “Misha just decided to stop writing again.” “Oh, yeah, so what else is new?”
I’m not going to apologize for that. This is a writer’s journal, and I’m going to be honest about the process. Sometimes that process is damned discouraging. Most of you who read this already know that.
As of right now, though, I’m going to keep going. I am almost down with the edit of Cannibal Hearts, I’m moving forward on Fauxpocalypse, and I have a good idea for what I am doing on both my next novel and my next story collection. I am going to keep moving. I have to.
I can’t stop here, this is bat country.