March 23, 2011


I wrote earlier of my love for the works of Anton Chekhov (Blog: 3/2/2011), his plays in particular, where many of his characters are benign but passive to a degree that makes one want to scream, “Do something, anything!  Don’t just stand there.”

I confess limp-wristed passivity is a trait I find the least attractive in a person, after cruelty. When I meet such people, my tendency is to want to help even when I suspect the person would be better off sinking or swimming for himself. 

Though I am a writer of little note, I often am contacted by budding writers who have yet to publish. I’m flattered by their belief that I have some wisdom to impart. I don’t. I consider myself a novice with much to learn. What I do know is that as much as I would like to help, I have no time to critique other people’s manuscripts, nor can I open doors to publishers or agents, nor can I shield anyone from the frustration that comes with manuscript rejections. I’m happy to sympathize, to offer a tissue to collect tears and mutter the words, “there, there,” but as to all else, I am largely useless. 

I had tea a few days ago with a fledgling writer and before I’d been given time to blow on my drink, I was told: ‘I just want to write. I don’t want to promote my book and I don’t like speaking to audiences.” Surprised, my inclination was to ask what audience she had in mind as in my experience finding people who want to listen to an unknown writer talk about an unknown book is as difficult as pulling out one’s healthy teeth with pliers. What’s more, I don’t understand what motivates someone to give birth to a healthy book and then expect it to walk and talk on its own. It doesn’t.

So, listen up you artists out there. Creating your body of work is only a small fraction of what it means to be an artist. If you get into print, most of your time will be spent on promotion. And for that you need the jugular aggression of the encyclopedia salesman in the video clip below. End of story!