Wednesday, 27 June 2012

We Love an Audience, But...

I've finally figured out how check to see if anyone has actually been reading any of this, and found that there have been, far more than expected (although who would be following these pages from South Korea I couldn't hazard a guess). Writers love an audience. For the most part we toil away in seclusion, reluctant to speak of our work lest it be born premature. But when it's finally deemed ready, we send it out into the world, much like an anxious parent sends their child, eager for it to find acceptance. So yes, we love an audience, probably more than most. Now that I find that I have one, however, I'm somewhat at a loss as to what to do next. After all, it's not realistic to expect to have a steady stream of published work to post, or even to be able to name stories that have received recognition. There are often long stretches of time without any word of success, and only the lonely process of what goes on between myself and the naked page to sustain me. And with that, I'll let you in on a little secret:

What if...?

By now, after my having listed just about every least little success my work has earned to date, you may be aware that a) I'm tremendously proud of it, b) my ego knows no bounds, and c) I take none of it for granted.

I had mentioned earlier that writers can be both egotistical and eccentric. The more I think about it, though, the more I'm convinced that I should add 'obsessive' and 'paranoid' to that list. After every success, the experience is so sweet that I obsess over acquiring the next one, and soon become paranoid that there won't be a 'next one' if it doesn't arrive, say, within forty-eight hours or so. After all, the only thing that allows me to be who I am is that tenuous link to the River. What if it should be severed? What if I can't find my way back to the water? What if I wake up one morning to find that, what I had always considered as a gift, had suddenly left as mysteriously as it had arrived? These are serious and perfidious questions that prey on my mind, requiring calm assurance of the highest degree in order to overcome them. When I find myself in that state, when niggling doubt begins to nefariously entrench itself in my psyche, I regret to say that I am neither calm nor assured. I do, however, have the presence of mind to pour out my misgivings to that long-suffering soul, Heartless Editor.

Now, here is a worthy of the sagest wisdom that ever was - a person who I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, will find, through sweet reason, the words to sustain me - to keep me centred and on track for the road ahead. As always, she hears me out with perfect calm. She listens in silence, like a rock, as I rail away in a storm of doubt and uncertainty until, finally, I sit before her, exhausted by my fear. Then come the words, spoken quietly, but with the utmost conviction - words that have sustained me through thick and through thin, that time and time again, have rescued me from the abyss, and brought me back to myself. Words, in fact, that have become my mainstay through my darkest hours, and kept me afloat when all the shadows are doing their utmost to pull me down into the deepest depths of despair:

"Don't be stupid."

See what I mean? Money can't buy that sort of encouragement. Like if that doesn't give you wings, nothing will.

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