I’ll always remember the scene in The Muppet Movie (the first one, kiddies) where producer Orson Wells casts an imperial glare over the bedraggled muppets who have forced their way into his office, then intercoms his receptionist. “Bring me the ‘Rich and Famous’ contract.” Yeah, that’s what we want.
Then there is the movie moment from Sideways where a would-be author stands on the empty loading dock behind a winery and listens as his agent tells him that “Some books can’t find a home”. Yes, after thinking he was going to be published, he’s getting dropped by his agency. And you can see, in the line of his shoulders and the quiver in his voice, what this means to him. And that’s what we usually get.
I will admit I was upset and depressed when I got home Saturday after pulling only ONE person into my unadvertised, unlisted, and unheralded speech in a library room you had to find down in the cellar, with a flashlight, inside a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.” I just got home and thought of all the effort and money and time and pride that’s gone into this effort of writing, and what I’ve gotten back, and I came this close (since this ain’t a podcast, I’m showing the distance between finger and thumb) to chucking it.
No more writing.
Never never never.
And it isn’t just me. Look no further than Herman Melville or John Kennedy Toole, writers who put their heart and soul into their efforts and died without ever knowing the fame that would come after they were long buried. And think of all those writers who never get published. Out in the world are thousands of books that would bring joy and perspective and insight, deflected by agents and publishers. It is likely that in some packet or on some disk lies a book more powerful than the bible, a guide to living one’s life in a just and dignified manner, a world-changer that would alter humankind. But these are rejected for whatever reasons, and thus remain dead to us.
The world of publishing is a hard place, where dreamers labor and accountants select. We write our hearts and souls into our words, only to be rejected by the Potter-head masses. And where we can stand on the stage of our creation and be ready to speak about our imagined wonders, and yet nobody comes.
That’s the world we face, fellow writers.
So I came home and played a computer game. Then my wife and I went out to see a movie where a bitter man shoots assholes who deserve it. Then I came home, read a stupid book and went to bed.
The next morning, I work up and posted three blog entries.
Yeah, I’m still writing.
And that’s the thing. We write because of who we are (not who they are). Writing for the passing titillation of the unwashed is a day-job. I’ve got one of those. But writing about Phoenician queens, of gigantic catapults, of formations of crows tearing into each other in a hurricane’s eye, that’s what I do. And that’s what I’ve got to hold on the tip of my metaphoric quill, to compose and post and remember, that is why I write.