Anatomy of failure

Via The New Yorker:

On Saturday, a California woman whose autobiographical novel was rejected by sixteen publishers hosted a funeral for her dream of a writing career, at which “attendees viewed the failed manuscript, rejection letters, refinance papers, useless MFA in creative writing, and the author’s much watched DVD copy of ‘The Secret.’”

Two reasons why she failed:

1) Anyone discouraged to cease writing by their inability to be published is no writer, but a mercenary who writes. Kafka did not even want a legacy through his writings; he asked that they be burned. His project was an effort to work out his own existence. At his end, the Czec found himself satisfied with neither life nor letters, and thus was horrified at the prospect of the latter outlive the former.  

Writing, at least fiction-writing, for anyone but oneself is assurance what is writ will never be read, at least not for long or of anyone of interest. When I’ve given up on writing, I’ll be the one in the casket. (Or rather, the urn, and several locations radiating from teh wind-currents of whatever location is adequately pristine and convienient driving distance for my loved ones, if all goes as planned.)

2) The Secret.

        2a.) “Positive thinking” never produced anything worth writing, let alone reading.

        2b) There is no profundity to be derived from a metaphysic propounded by Oprah. Any author taking up an explicit philosophy must make it their own, taking it out of the sands of history’s sands as a neglected beach-glass, and grinding it to fit their own eye. Through it, they might look back on the society they gone so far beyond–or are so intimately close to, only a magnification of natural human powers can reveal anything new. This is confirmed in experience; Yeats’ Platonist historicism allowed him to account for both the problem of evil and the problem of the good. From without the city of superstition, Santayana heard the verses of Lucretius, his voice in the wilderness. Borges, writer of books for the irreducibly bookish, could not conceive of a life, of a world beyond the mind, so always returned to Schopenhauer and Berkeley, and brought the reader along with him. 

I had promised never to aphorize on the blog. And now you all know my pretensions.

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One Response

  1. Ditto, particularly to the first point since I have no idea what this “The Secret” is, though I assume it’s some sort of motivational self-help dvd that is guaranteed to lead to success.
    You don’t write to get published. You write because there’s something you need to say, and even if no one else reads it, you’ve said it.
    On that note, I should go write my French paper…

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