This is a hasty and (hence) condensed post about writers of literary fiction. Or may be not.
There are two kinds of novice writers of prose. Those who start out as narcissists and those who are too aware of their narcissism, and smart enough to keep it out of their prose.
These smart folk never make it as writers. They wouldn’t be able to make it as writers even if they meant to. Prose can never have a life of its own, so the writer must put some of his own into it. Those who are too conscious and afraid of the judgment of others (audience?) shy away from it and their work is little more than dry wit and may be a few insights. Anything more than a few pages long will tire the reader out.
Ah, but then, isn’t it the job of the writer to be aware of how his work will be judged and evaluated and manipulate it? Yes. Awareness makes some people empowered and some others handicapped.
Then is it the other lot, the ones running wild and free with their self-indulgence, who make it as writers?
Well, some of them do. The ones who grow out of their own perspective. The ones who know how to see. The ones who know how other people see.
That’s the catch, isn’t it? Seeing is not enough. Seeing what other people can’t is not good enough either. Of all the things you see, you have to know which part is visible to everyone else and which part is not. This knowledge has not much to do with your ability to see. Growing out of your narcissism is the first criteria.
After that, this knowledge can come from anywhere. May be you are very smart. May be your empathy gives you the insight. Years of cultivated habit? Or pure force of reason (I like this one, because I can’t imagine how it could possibly work :)). May be, more often than not, it just comes to you and you don’t know how to account for it.
Oh, and if you keep writing for a long enough stretch of time, even if your writing doesn’t improve by as much as your overestimation, at least your narcissism loses its sting.
Then there are the poets.
Narcissism is an absolute most, I imagine. But as I speculated, if you can’t differentiate between what you see and what others see, you’ll be just wasting my time telling me the things I already know and can see.
That is what has prompted this spur-of-the-moment half-baked post. In the Sunday supplement of the local daily, I usually go through the humour column (I find its absurd exaggeration surprisingly sophisticate). But today I read a few poems (yes, I read Sunday supplements on Mondays) and I feel sick.
I feel sick of poetry and poems. I know this feeling will pass, but it’s exasperating while it’s there. Bad poetry is one thing, but pathetically repetitive lack of imagination can incite existential despair. Why am I reading this? What the fuck am I doing here right now reading this? Why the bloody fuck has my life come down to reading this? Why am I even alive? Fuck, I feel sick of poetry.
Dear reader, if you have persisted so far, you might as well go on and read Neruda’s “Walking Around,” which seems to sum up myself for the moment, even if in part. Yes, right now, I am sick of being myself (as opposed to being sick of myself, which is also a condition I sometimes attain).
Oh, I’ll just go on and smile.