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Putting Crosscurrents To Bed

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Adam Phillips

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I may very well be the most procrastinatin' slowpoke story-nonfinisher of a Hosted Author at this whole place. And I know I've driven a bunch of you crazy with my slow pace. Heck, I've probably driven some of you away with my slow pace.

 

But I'm here to say that the conclusion to Crosscurrents will be posted some time tomorrow. You have no idea what a relief this is to me. Talk about your albatross. On the one hand, anyway. (See below.)

 

Many if not most of you know that I've had the final chapter and epilogue of Crosscurrents written for months.

 

But I didn't like what I had. I couldn't put my finger on what I didn't like; I just didn't like what I had.

 

So I started all over on those last two segments, not even consulting the previous versions. Trying not to even think about them.

 

And whaddya know? I got it told the way I want to tell it.

 

Not saying it's a masterpiece. I'm just saying I'm good with letting the final chapter and epilogue stand as I've written them. They do what I want them to do. What I couldn't get the previous attempts to do.

 

The epilogue in particular pleases me, because even in its conceptual stages--and all the way through the writing of the first version of it--I didn't like it. And that's bad. An epilogue has to be the capstone of the whole damn novel, right? And it just wasn't. It was going to piss off readers. It was going to leave them going, "Huh?" And going, "WTF?" And going, "Well, that sucks. Ten years I waited for that?"

 

I may still get some of that. 04.gif But at least when people say it, I won't agree.

 

The story's going to end as it needs to. And I think as I've written it, it'll please many people who were not going to be pleased with the original epilogue.

 

I've said that the conclusion to CC will be "inconclusive." It's still going to be inconclusive. It's still going to want a sequel, and it's still going to get a sequel. But it's the kind "inconclusive" that will allow the Faithful Reader to close the book--so to speak--satisfied.

 

I've also told readers for years who were demanding surcease from Matt's drama and pain and a happy ending for him (they don't give a rip about Andy, and that's as it should be) that the ending wouldn't make them want to slit their wrists. That was the best I could do for them. I couldn't promise a happily-ever-after ending, because that's not how Crosscurrents ever imagined itself closing out. And anybody who took the Prologue seriously should never have even bothered to ask for a giddy-happy ending. The Prologue simply won't allow it. The Prologue, and the reality behind it, made that impossible.

 

But. But, but, but.

 

Everything lies in the freakin' delivery of the inconclusiveness. Not comparing myself to Margaret Mitchell or David O. Selznick, but that final scene in Gone With The Wind hasn't left decades of viewers grumbling about the ending. And it feels like the end of a movie. And It's damn inconclusive. And that's just fine.

 

Day before yesterday it fell from the sky into my head how I needed to write the epilogue. After ten years of telling myself "I'll think about that tomorrow," and then refusing to think about it because I didn't know how to freakin' close the thing out in any way that was going to be remotely satisfying...it just came to me. And the weird thing is, it's not all that different from my previous thoughts and plans and attempts, all of which disgusted me. That tiny bit of difference, it turns out, makes all the difference in the world.

 

Now that I've oversold and overhyped, you're going to read the Epilogue and go, "What's so great about that?" And the answer is, "Nothing." In the same way, when I first tasted my first cup of coffee made from the Geisha varietal--specifically the Hacienda la Esmeralda from Panama--It had been so overhyped, I went..."Well, yeah, it's very good, but...but...it's not the Second Coming. It's not God in a Cup."

 

So in the same way, when you actually get to read the epilogue, you're likely to be underwhelmed because of my blather. I'm just warning you. What I'm saying is not that in writing the second version of the epilogue I became Steinbeck redivivus. I'm just saying that for years and years I couldn't get it like I wanted. For ten years, I couldn't even envision it like I wanted. And now it's come to me. Now it feels like the end of a book. Now it won't send readers screaming at me for an immediate sequel because Volume One was so unsatisfying. And that's good, because I'm not going to get to that sequel for a few books. Andy and Matt need a rest.

 

Couple of other things.

 

1) I'm gonna have to bypass my three proofreaders this time. I want it posted as quickly as I can get it posted. That means I don't have time to run it by my three proofreaders. Sorry, proofreaders. Wish you were here, lol. But I'm not sending you stuff and then pressuring you to get the damn thing turned around in five hours.

 

2) The chances are good that I'm not going to make my self-imposed Sunday-right-before-midnight deadline. These last two segments need the vernix scraped off in the worst kind of way--they're not bathed and pretty-smelling and swaddled in a receiving blanket yet; they're straight from the matrix--and Sunday evening is family time. And that's sacrosanct.

 

It's not impossible that I'll meet my deadline. But I'm more likely to get them posted Monday. Maybe Monday at 2 AM. Maybe Monday at 10 PM. But not later than Monday.

 

I feel kinda weird. Talk about your long, strange trip. I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to Crosscurrents. As I've more and more lately been willing to admit, CC is essentially autobiographical. In spite of the bi-jockboys-fall-in-love cliche. In spite of the people who say "No way bi guys ever get with all those straight guys like that." Look, how the hell was I to know I was a walking stereotype? I prefer to think of myself as exemplifying an archetype. :P But, you know, I don't care if you think my story is autobiographical, or if you think in real life I'm an obese woman living in a double-wide with two ducks. The story's the thing, and anyway, I've been pretty reticent about passing this thing off as anything but fiction until the last couple of years.

 

But I digress. What I was gonna say is that Crosscurrents has been a part of my life since 2003. And now I'm bidding it farewell. I'm ambivalent about that. I'm not sure I like it. Still, 2013 is apparently my Year To Say Goodbye on a number of fronts. It sucks...but this goodbye, at least, doesn't suck so bad. I accomplished the goal I'd set of telling the story of my best friend and of my adolescent confusion. And that is immensely satisfying.

 

I've made so many e-friends and acquaintances along the way. And, maybe more importantly, I've heard from so many people for whom Crosscurrents resonated deeply with their own experience. Over and over again, readers told me how deeply they've been touched by what I've written. What could possibly be more gratifying for a writer? Some of you know that I write for a living these days. One of several income streams. And I want to say that there's nothing in my career-writing that can remotely compare. That's just food on the table, a roof over my head. With Crosscurrents, I'm not even thinking about profit. It's one guy's heart touching other hearts. And apparently I've done that. Over and over and over again.

 

Thanks for walking with me on the road, Faithful Readers. And if you're willing to keep walking, I think I have some new places for us to explore. I'm far from done.

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After 10 years, you're letting that 23-year old young man sitting on the beach during his final undergrad spring break finally go off into his future instead of ruminating on his past. What a wonderful thing.

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Well, it's about time punk!!!  

 

(What did you expect?  This is from ME!  If I didn't give you a hard time you'd think I'd stopped loving ya or sumpin!)

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It has been a long journey but the trip was certainly worth it.  The Epilogue may be inconclusive to you but it brings a very comfortable closure to a great story.

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Am so glad to see the conclusion finally at hand. 

 

I'd been following CC since the early days, back when you had a Yahoo group dedicated to the story.  But I gave up during your procrastination, as trying to keep my head wrapped-up in a story that was so dormant for so long just proved to be too much for me.  But I was involved enough to keep watching your progress, and now that I know you're "done", I'm gonna go back to start from the top.  And I'm REALLY looking forward to the ride.

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My experience reading Crosscurrents may be a bit different than that of many others. I enjoyed what I have read, that's without a question, but at wherever I have stopped (and I cannot tell you where exactly that is, but likely pretty far back) I couldn't find myself being able to continue reading it without getting this subtle gutting discomfort after every paragraph. I've tried for a long time to figure out where this discord originated and I may have gotten pretty close, but strangely I haven't figured out how to dissipate that feeling when I read so I just lost interest over time. So in a way, your story did something to me as well but rather than deeply moving me, it opened up this little question box and made me think about myself. I do think that's a good thing, regardless what the discovery were. I think you're a gifted writer and a talented expresser of thoughts, and if this story is still posted in the future, i'd like to finish it. One day.

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I guess I am very lucky.  I started this story and after investing a bit of time into it I almost stopped reading it because it seemed that at first there just wasn't enough time in a week or energy in a person for this to resonate as true.  Then with the sudden introduction of an Andy's ADD into the picture I almost closed it.  I was like this is too much, but it was mentioned so infrequently it didn’t ruin it for me.  BUT I am very happy I kept up with it.  It has really really hit me hard.  I am 41 and gay and mostly in the closet and have been alone since I could not get past my fear enough to date.  I have never really given it too much thought after I made the decision that I didn't need anyone else.  As I was reading this and thinking about my own problems and how much I am missing out in life, I decided that I can start working on myself again, I have to.  I am also extremely lucky I did not have the agonizing wait for the conclusion of this piece of work.  I can certainly see the growth in your writing and after I got past the first third I could not stop reading it.  The connection between Andy and Matt was something I never thought possible and the way you described it was very touching.  The current of their early bond flowing throughout the story and decision made so long ago that needed to address was over power at times.  I was crushed at times reading it but it made me feel.  I suspected at times throughout the work that this has to have some roots in truth, the pain and the love where too real to not have been genuine.  Or you are just a fantastic writer.  I know I am going to read this again after giving it a little time to dissolve into my psyche.  Thank you, I hope this feeling of being awakened lasts and I can start moving in the right direction.  I am now aware of how frozen in time in a self-made prison I have built for myself.  I need to learn to let go of the fear, love myself and move forward.  I guess a lot more reading and thinking are in my future.  Oh and I love the Dandy Warhols, especially TTFNUB.

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FWIW, I hadn't checked into GA or CC for awhile, so only today I noticed the last two chapters were up.  I read them before coming to the blog, and I'm glad I did.  From this perspective,  I think you accomplished what you wanted. No WTF response from me. The ending is excellent.

 

This story has always been more about what's going on in Andy's head than what was going on outside, and ending the story at the point where Andy takes a leap of emotional growth and awareness is a good point.  I could imagine a few alternate endings, perhaps they would have been like your WTF endings.  But I think this one is true to the story.  There were other times along the way where Andy ignored/fought/overlooked a point of emotional awareness and that accepting that new awareness was OK.  Eventually, he would end the struggle and move on.  To end the book with the end of a struggle is a good end, IMO.

 

I always kind of assumed that the last chapters didn't get written for so long because you weren't sure how they turned out in real life, even though you were past graduation. (I hope that doesn't sound condescending. Rereading my comment, I can't tell. Not my intent.) Retelling the facts of the 5th undergraduate year without a clearer understanding of the implications of what transpired would make the story seem hollow. How would you know what the implications were until you'd had some time to live them out?  An interpretation of the 5th-yr spring break written 8 years ago may have been far different that the one written two months ago. Hindsight....

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Heh heh.  Just went back and reread the other blog posts from the summer.  Maybe I should read in chronological order.

 

I suppose the additional challenge of writing online and publish as you go is that you paint yourself into a corner.  (See July 11 blog post).  Had you saved posting the entire thing until you were done, you could have just rewritten the prologue.  Like science writing--you write the intro last, after you know what you want to say.

 

Which just makes the ending of CC that much better, in that you were able to make it all fit.  

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I am soooo lucky. I just started reading the story on Crvboy.org in September of 2014. It ends there at chapter 32, and I contacted Adam to see where the rest is. He directed me to this website. And here it is, in all its glory!  Reading this story has been the most cathartic event of this summer. I am grieving over the loss of a wonderful relationship with the love of my life, a straight military man who could not accept that I came out as gay. I read the chapters at work, and then I cry on my drive home every night. In my heart I can feel the searing pain that Adam describes in such painstaking and excruciating detail. I cry after each chapter, and I send e-mails to Adam. Thank you, Adam, for taking me on the journey, and for sharing your life with us. Now I know that I'm not alone with my pain. You have a gift - use it well.

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