Edd, for a time, I truly resented fate for not giving the rewards I expected for the (possibly absurd) sacrifices I made for writing…and still make. I would torment myself with the reality that if I”d given as much time and blood to medicine or science or law, then I’d be far wealthier and more esteemed in society. What taught me to look at it another way was when I got a music journalism side gig and started interviewing musicians who were fantastically talented…and sometimes who had major “one hit wonder” songs…and then never had an audience again. The sheer fickleness of the fact that they never broke through really struck me. They worked hard, they had the talent, they made the sacrifices…and they just didn’t “make it.”
That’s when I started to look around and be thankful for what I DO have, which is readers who, even in this age of limitless possibilities for entertainment and distraction, spend some of their precious time reading my writing. That made me infinitely grateful for my lot…and the ability, as you said, to talk directly to them.
It’s a strange thing to love a dying artform…to love words in an age where fewer and fewer people are reading. At least, where fewer and fewer are reading “real” literature.
I think I’m starting to ramble a bit, but I had this epiphany about a decade ago. I was an extremely stubborn guy, maybe still am, and would rail against reality for making me a writer in an age where so few people read anything except whatever new Harry Potter trend is taking over the world. ON some level, I think I took that stubbornness for strength. But, then I realized…what happens to the gazelles who sit around bitching and moaning about lions, rather than taking measures to protect themselves? They die.
What happens to lions who sit around bitching and moaning about how hard it is to get food? They die. This is natural selection. Those that can adapt, win. Those that can’t or wont’ adapt become extinct. Strange as it may seem, the epiphany made me reframe my stubbornness, and I no longer took it to be a form of strength.
So, I still write my beloved “literature,” but I also write freelance stuff that I frankly don’t care if it it has my name on it (and in some cases prefer it doesn’t), and I edit science reports, and I’ve found a way to make some money with words, and I’ve found an audience, even if it’s not quite as huge as I’d once hoped. And now I count myself lucky. Because I, too, could have become an extinct beast whining about selective pressures.
This is my long winded way of saying that I agree with you completely, and I respect your perspective because, in total honesty, I think you’re one of the best writers doing it today. I don’t mean on Medium or in my circles…I just mean, “period.” Anywhere.
So, though as you said you can never really, truly touch that feeling that your writing gives to others, know that at least with this random guy living, your writing has stuck in my mind for days and heart after reading. I still think of that flute, especially, and that counts among my very favorite works of language ever.
So, yes, I ramble, ha…here in the Redwoods after a long day of driving, thinking about literature, and well I found this piece and started rambling…