Richard Chiem


I HALF THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO KILL MYSELF IN 2018, a few months before the launch of my debut novel. All I ever wanted was to be loved, to feel loved, and to write books. I woke up nearly every day reading and writing for the past ten years and suddenly, in October 2018, I didn’t want that shit anymore, my body could not write, my body was not hungry, I wanted to die and disappear instead. King of Joy was to be published in March 2019 and I wondered if I would be alive in March 2019. 

Clouds move at my favorite speeds. Walking up hills makes me dream and want to live again. I burn my knees walking everywhere. No matter how I feel about nature, no matter how much in love I am, my face stays the same, my swagger endless monotone. There is a part of me that will always want to call you, Baby. I turn everything that has nearly killed me into entertainment. I put all my eggs in one basket and I smash the basket.

I am walking down some street in Los Angeles and I can see the Hollywood sign. I am here for Brad Listi and his podcast. Aloe Vera plants, palm trees, cracked sidewalks: all of this, I remember, is my shit. I hate it so much here. It is Friday, March 15th, and I am blitzed out of my skull. I smoke fatty, I smoke fatty, I smoke fatty. I can see Brad and Twiggy on the front steps of his house and I have an out-of-body experience; it’s as though the sky around my face clouds and watches me like a camera. I have barely slept, I miss New York, I miss Seattle, and my body moves like a ghost from room to room, following Brad Listi into his incandescent pool house.

In the interview, I feel enlightened as hell. I say something like, “If I had a choice of writing ten books and killing myself versus writing four books and living a happy life, I would hope to choose the latter.”

You have to know that rest is writing, too. Finding love is writing, too. Doing fucking nothing is writing, too.

Brad has a handsome face. I can feel his whole life from the careful way he walks through his house, and I can tell he is a kind man. Cars nearly run me over. The sun is gorgeous. I leave Los Angeles the fuck behind. 

There is a calm to the world, a drop in the ocean. I have to pull it out of me like a sword in a stone, like a knife in the abdomen, like a very good reminder. I attempt my life. My friends love me. I came here, like a reckoner, to belong in your room. I have so much more to say.

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August 28th, 2020 / 11:03 am