Sunday, September 17, 2006

Not no one.

I'm thinking about something in a friend's email to me night before last. A while back I mentioned to him that I realized that, most likely, no one at all will read my novel. He responded as follows:
>which no one at all will read.
but now I know that that is okay.
that that is not important.
well. let me change that. as long as one person reads. and enjoys. then it's worth it.
one is enough.
that's my new rule.

That "one is enough" has been rolling around in my head ever since. I think it pretty well encapsulates the drive behind all efforts at putting words into public circulation. You're looking for the one person who will really *get* it. Contact. It's what we all need, especially bloggers, or we wouldn't be doing it, would we?

If I knew that there would be only one, though, would the impetus I feel to write longer fiction die out? Die is the right word, here, because the effort is against mortality. We write books, I think, to grab a little piece of immortality. Something of our selves will endure beyond us between the covers of a book, or a journal, or a packet of letters to a loved one (the epistolary form can be as little as ordinary letters between mother and son, sisters--the unique authorial voice as clear there as in the finest work of art).

Blogging is so different, though. It's all about connections right now. Twenty years from now is anyone you care about going to be able even to find all these digital words of ours? Aren't we spending time creating something even less enduring than our own fleshly selves?

Now back to that comment: *one is enough.*

Is it?


  1. The problem is that no one really believes one is enough. That's why we put ourselves through the anguish of revisions. We want to earn the exposure to many. Even if we say we don't.

    Writers want to be read. Otherwise they could just be thinkers and entertain those closest to them.

    Keep your head up.

  2. once you accept that your writing will never achieve the tangible results (fame, fortune) you secretly had hoped for, you can either quit doing it or you can still write, but expect something different in return. i realize it seems impossible to think one would want to do this much work for no returns. but i sort of think it is, in fact, possible. and this is why i employ the one person rule. whether or not you believe in it is up to you. i will, however, admit one thing. however. the sense of urgency is dampened and the intervals between revisions grow longer. but they happen. it still happens. and for me, i always know who that one person is.

  3. still no retorts? is it because i am so right? i doubt it. in fact, i would like to state for the record that my dogma is quite flexible. in fact, i was hoping to be shot down. i've learned to take pleasure in being wrong.

  4. I have been struggling to make a comment to this post, and it finally came to me today. Of course one is not enough! But writers reach readers one at a time, so word play may be at work here. Bloggers and writers do it to share, otherwise they would do private diaries. Readers read for the same reason, to share. The writers are on the giving end, the readers on the taking end of this sharing. Still, let us not forget that writers read, too (or else why would they be writers), the circle comes around. Long live literature!

    Looking forward to your book and new blogs, Bookcracker.

  5. okay. let me put in another way. would you still write if you knew your work would never be published? (e.g. it might still reach a handful of people (friends, etc.) but never a "ton" and never enough to make a career.) would you still write then? and i don't mean if you "secretly held out hope." i mean if you "knew" it would not. how would that change your approach? assuming a constant amount of free time and a relatively fixed day job (which is, of course, a problematic assumption to say the least).

  6. I think writers are junkies. Self involved to the end, they will continue to write whether people read them, whether they are hacks or published novelists of note.

    What I claim is that even the biggest self-aware hack in the world, believes he or she has something great in them that a wide audience will appreciate. They will continue to struggle in pursuit of that moment.

    Needy fuckers. (Myself included.)

  7. i can't disagree with that. but is this particular to writing? what about other creative fields? or outside of the arts. what about science, engineering. could the same be said about pursuit of "appreciation" and sneaking belief in one's own potential for greatness in those fields?

  8. could an engineer be a needy fuck?

  9. Readers, girl, you need readers. These are trusted non-friends who will read your stuff with a sharp eye, and you will return the favor. There are plenty of willing women out there. [Ahem] I'll show you mine if you show me yours, baby.

    Also - have an A list, a B list, and a C list for journals, and send shorter stuff to all of them in a certain order. Collect your rejections, keep track. Take yourself seriously.

    It's not theory, it's hustle. So. I don't know you, you don't know me, but I know a few folks who know folks.. and I want to read your novel..or maybe just a chapter to start.

    Chin up.

  10. Hi,I was sure I left a comment here the other day but can't see it now so shall just say thanks for linking me again. I came across this on Joshua Braff's myspace; Zach Braff from Scrubs/Garden State etc. has a brother who is a writer but you probably know that. I know it's myspace but he has some stuff worth looking at,
    & I thought the finding an agent bit might be useful.

    I am always interested in writing exercises anyway, and just did this poetry one, not very well as it happens, but it exercises the brain,,1887575,00.html

    Where are you anyway? I hope it is being really productive on the book that is keeping you away from the blog. X

  11. Yes, indeed, BDogs, where are you?

  12. I wish I knew when all you kind people posted. It gives time of day, but not month. Where am I?
    On Winedale Porch (my other blog), but I'm thinking I'll pick this one back up, too. Thanks for all the support!