Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer

Okay, here’s a little teaser for you:
What have Chopin, James Blunt, Rameses II, Kenneth Williams, Sheila Hancock, Arthur Schopenhauer, Bruce Forsyth and Me got in common?
That’s right. We were all born on the same day. And, for me, this has been my ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for as long as I can remember. With a hand to the brow I have escaped many a sideways remark with my claim to arty fame. We’re a very sensitive bunch, us Pisceans – although I’ve heard that anyone born between 19-22nd of any month could reasonably be termed a Cuspian because it’s such a close call, day-wise. Anyway, we are the creative Cuspians of the Zodiac.

I’m actually more than a little disappointed that Tony Hancock, Lord Byron and Sylvia Plath weren’t born on this day because at times I feel a total empathy with these people as well. And whenever Brucie’s on the TV, I always get a warm glow. But that could be more to do with the sofa; there’s probably a small empire of hitherto undiscovered life-form living in the depths of that and none of us would know.
Arthur Schopenhauer, as we all know, was the quintessential Philosopher of Pessimism and for that reason alone, I respectfully doff my creative Cuspian Cap and I bet even HE tried to be a bit of a laugh on the quiet.
You see, for all the hard skin we writers have to develop, and be seen to be sporting, we’re nothing but a bunch of totally tormented artists, deep down. And this is what I find the toughest thing to cope with in writing. To harden my fragile, approval-seeking skin to the rigours of this very subjective pursuit.

I’ve been wondering recently if Dickens had had access to the internet, whether he’d be trawling through Amazon listings and the Authonomy website hoping to see his rankings increase. And if Jane Austen had a Facebook page, if she’d be constantly fretting over how many ‘likes’ ‘fans/friends’ she was getting daily. And how tortured would Shakespeare have become if he hadn’t got any comments on the blog post he’d spent ages honing to his idea of perfection that morning?
 My internal meanderings even took me as far as finally understanding why and how and in what place Van Gogh must have been to have gouged off his own ear. Web-surfing will do that to ME at times. I guess it all boils down to the eternal struggle for artistic recognition, doesn’t it? Our readers. Our audience. The people that we hope we can entertain. The ones who will applaud our finer bits and perhaps ignore or heckle or reassure our bad. And if we don’t get the kind of support and recognition that we hope we deserve, that we strive to achieve, then at times it does make you feel like stuffing dampened blankets round the kitchen door frame and turning the gas up a bit.

My personal response to rejection disappointments is one of retreat. Much like the injured wild animal. I prefer to take my wounds away from societal scrutiny and go somewhere quiet and dark until I am repaired. Until I feel strong enough to try it all over again. Because this is an exhausting road we have lain before us - the road to literary success. And there are other, less scaredy-cats out there who seem to instinctively know how to bounce right back and keep on going for their particular kill. But then if all animals were all like that, Charles Darwin wouldn’t have had anything to research, would he?

Which is why Mother Nature invented Little (literary) Chefs.
I haven’t given up my journey; I’m just having a pit-stop and rethinking my route, that’s all.
And the All-Day Breakfast looks nice too.

1 comment:

Jacqueline Christodoulou said...

I hope you feel stronger soon Debs.

Great post - I reckon all those people you mention would be on Facebook and Twitter!