Monday, February 18, 2013

Pants on Straight! Complaint and Other Terms

I am reminded constantly that I do not exist as a writer. I know this and I accept it. I am grateful for it. I am reminded when I read or hear other writers either complain or confess their lack of success. It is all the same to my ears. It is all complaint and makes me wonder how, lacking the most elementary self-knowledge, they can get food to their mouths. I mean to say that writers convey ideas. If you  complain, then that is the idea you are conveying. So, as a suggestion, you might keep quiet, or think about things, until you have something worthwhile to share with people who have taken time out of their lives to listen to you.

So I try not to complain, except with respect to complainers. And I am sorry about that. No doubt, the lives of writers who are less noted than other writers is a hard one. I should know. And yet, I am grateful I do not exist as a writer. In everything else I do I exist, often to a dizzying and provoking degree. The difference between somewhat existing in poetry (to the extent that some might know my name or say kind/provocative things about my writing, or me as a person), only to be forgotten in ten, 20, 30 years' time, and being never ever known, seems to me immaterial. If, in the other hand, the choice is between being never known and being immortal (though, that term is suspect - as who immortalizes whom and for what purposes, etc.), well, that would not be my choice to make. If my writing were so good - and it's clearly not - to immortalize my name, I would be over-flowing with admirers. It is not, and I am not.

In the sort of economy I describe the only reliable currencies are time and opportunity, being reverse sides of the coin of the realm of the invisible. I exist as others exist, open to time and opportunity, perhaps to write. I publish my own work. I move on. And I am grateful. This gratitude is not in itself remarkable or interesting. It does not seem to me any more interesting than a writer's complaint. But there is this difference, that gratitude is open-ended. It is borne out of love, and so it answers to any thought, impression, or question - or should - whereas complaint is circular, feeding on cause, again and again, until it dies on the branch.

It remains to acknowledge that gratitude can perhaps be a sort of complaint, I guess. I mean, the obvious point of this post - my lack of concern at being invisible - is a complaint, is it not? - against normative perceptions of writers or publishing. I mean, one could make that case. But then, it really doesn't go anywhere unless you can demonstrate the sort of falsity that ultimately characterizes the complainer: disregard of self. The complainer almost always is a person who has bought into a system and now for whatever reason is mad at themselves for having done so - but who (and this is key) lacks either the ingenuity to offer a meaningful alternative, or the resolve to live by one. It makes little difference whether one blames others or oneself. We're all in this together, and the scent of discourse does not carry a signature.

Well, resolved I am to live by the outlines I describe in these postings. And I certainly have no criticism to offer against other, and normative means, of living as a writer. Contests, independent publishing - whatever works for that individual, I am all for it. I am delighted (and feel relieved) by the success of friends, and I am sympathetic to their problems. But then, my friends are not complainers. They work hard and their accomplishments are well-deserved.

...and for this, I am grateful!

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