I feel pretty good about what I write. I think I'm a good writer.
And suddenly today that started to worry me, when I contrasted it with remarks about writing by two of my favorite writers. One is by Kurt Vonnegut,from the preface to one of his books. I don't remember it word-for-word but it went something like this: "How do I feel about this book? I feel lousy about it. I feel lousy about all my books." Seemed he felt somewhat embarrassed that he hadn't be able to do better. The other remark is by Samuel Beckettand is more concise: "To write is to fail."
That's what two writers whom I find to be excellent -- Beckett especially -- have to say for themselves. Pretty close to outright apologizing for doing what they did. What I'm worried about is that perhaps they were so good in significant part because they were profoundly dissatisfied with themselves, and therefore constantly striving mightily to do better, and that, conversely, my satisfaction with my own work keeps it relatively mediocre. But you know what? I still think I'm pretty good. And people whose opinions I value highly also have praised my work.
I wouldn't say that it's a widespread opinion that I'm a good writer, because I don't think enough people know anything at all about me for any opinion about me to legitimately be called widespread. I'm not good at marketing my work. I'm more sure about this negative opinion of my marketing skills than about my positive opinion of my writing, because marketing skills can be measured objectively, in terms of numbers, and the quality of writing cannot. I won't tell you how few clicks this blog gets, because 1) I don't want you to cry or feel sorry for me, and 2) it's basically nunya bidniss nohow. But I need an agent. I had an agent once, a good one, but I lost him again, because I never finished the novel which got him interested in working for me, and by the time I finished another novel he had moved on to another profession. I got that agent by the sheerest and dumbest of sheer dumb luck, and unfortunately for me, finding an agent, a skilled person to market one's work, is itself a kind of marketing. (*sigh*)
And because I am not (yet) so hugely successful that counting my money and turning down business offers occupies all of my free time, and also because I am a bit of a schmuck, let's face it, I spend some time commenting on articles on Huffingtom Post, where they keep us schmucks coming back and clicking on their site and making them money with dumb things including badges, yes badges, and what inspired me to write this post was that today I noticed that ________* had received the Community Pundit badge, which comes with the perk that some of yr comments are conspicuously placed above the others immediately below the text of an article. I'm pretty sure that the Pundits don't actually get PAID or anything, still it irks me mightily than an absolute dolt and moron like ________ has been named a Pundit, whilst I have not.
Then again, do I really want to be in a club which would have ________ as a member? And how are Pundits really chosen? HP says:
"HuffPost Pundits are our most engaged and thought-provoking commenters. Pundit Badges are awarded based on a strong history of insightful comments,"
which sounds as if HP would have us believe that some actual human beings working (as unpaid interns?) for HP found ________ to be insightful and thought-provoking. Can that really be? If that's true it would be quite discouraging, for it would mean that some real bozos are driving the bus over there. Or are Pundit badges actually awarded like the other badges: by a machine which counts clicks, counts things like fans and friends and faves? That too would be discouraging, but in a different way: it would be yet another indication that HP comments section is just another internet flame war trying to pass itself off as a moderated "community."
In any case, sad for me that my life's empty enough that I care. May that change soon, completely and forever. From your lips, gentle readers -- from both of you -- to Andrew Wylie's ears.
*I considered writing ________'s handle in this post, but why do that?