I was curious while listening to Tragedies of Modernity how you'd tackle this beach challenge, and I love it. I can clearly see and feel you sitting there solo in shoes in the shade pondering writing. What's funny is at first, right before you turned to the subject of writing, I thought it was going to be a piece about how hard it would be to be "with" a partner who loved the beach (most people) when you so clearly hate it ahhaha! So it was fun to be rip-tided into the topic of writing, which i should have expected based on the podcast. I also love the line "you just look at me from 10 sand castles away." Thanks for writing and good luck on getting stung! I'm up on the rocks, so maybe i will meet you on the beach someday.

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Your stories of beach calamities in your youth remind me of this annoying conversation I have with people whenever my mother is around.

See, one time when I was a little kid, we went to the beach in New Orleans at night. I splashed happily out into the water and was promptly stung by a stingray. Felt like a sharp stone wrapping around my foot and slowly, methodically puncturing its way in. We had to soak my feet in warm salt water for the rest of the night.

I got over it and happily continued my life splashing around in beaches for a good decade more. It really wasn't until I was a teenager that I was at a beach in California looking around and realized, I don't much like staying out in the unshaded sun, I don't really much like swimming or most water-based activities, and sand is obnoxious. So in the end, I realized I'm just not fond of beaches. It was a simple reflection, nothing dramatic or life changing. People are allowed to dislike things.

Well, my mother insists that I loved beaches 'until I got stung by a stingray and decided I didn't like them anymore.' That decade-long lag between one event that happened and a realization I had later is tied so inexorably in her narrative-seeking* mind that it's not only something I've had to contradict in conversation, but I have to keep doing it over and over again because she prefers to remember* the narrative than the contradiction.

* this is normal human behavior that we all exhibit in some way and should not be taken as a slight against my mother, but obvious examples tend to stand out as particularly judgmental of the person doing it, so rather than judge my mother it's better to take this as a lesson in the narratives you tell yourself -- how real are they, and how connected the events?

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What is the story on the three self-published books? Are they still available to buy? Are they like unwanted works that you now disavow?

I admit that I have two self-published books. I tried to withdraw one without success after my son said that it was depressing and would not be good for anyone to read (called Why Can't I Bring Myself to Work?). The other one (The Box of Captured Things) has not sold a single copy but may have helped my daughter get into the London College of Communications because she illustrated it at the age of 15. I think that there is a sense of shame that one experiences after self-publishing a book that fails. You don't talk about the book or promote it. At best, you can cross off "I want to write a book" from the things you want to do in life.

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I love this. you can’t be a writer without some level of self-deprecation.

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