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Authorthentic

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Julian Schnabel: May (2017)
"I will be rewarded with a blank page …"

I admit to feeling self-conscious about how I write. This likely stems from my never having received formal training in how to write, so I suspect that I do not write properly, or right, and never have. When I say that I feel self-conscious about how I write, I mean that I usually go unconscious when writing so that I won't be thinking about what an imposter I'm being while engaging. There's a deep shame there, too, as if my act of writing should necessarily seem offensive to you and that I really should, if I were in any way thoughtful, gift this world by not further polluting it with my misbegotten work products. I do not overstate my premise here. I want to be clear about my experience. I might choose to write in what passes, for almost everybody, as the middle of the night because my practice, my actual Authoring, probably wouldn't pass muster in the fuller light of any actual day. This part of my life seems best lived surreptitiously. Once the Authoring's finished, I feel free enough to post the result without often mentioning the process by which it manifested, a process which might well be shared by every author in the history of this world so far, though not often mentioned to their readers.

Maybe cost accountants perform a similar dance when they create capital asset pricing models. They probably should.
Authenticity seems to cost at least this small indecency. It might be that however well-trained one becomes, and perhaps the better trained one becomes, the more they deep down realize that they are simply making it up as they go along, that their training didn't actually take and so they're forced to fake skill. It probably wouldn't kill anyone for a seasoned professional to go all confessional, especially given that the more seasoned ones tend to have a track record of their past successes which might well suggest that, regardless of how they might feel about it, their continuing success probably wasn't an accident. How it feels, though, and how it is, often exhibit huge differences.

Mary Catherine Bateson authored a wonderful book called Composing A Life where she employed the composition metaphor to describe her manner of living. She concluded that her life remained a work in process, that the composing never resolved into anything more tangible than more composing, that the act of composing was, in the end, the composition, whatever artifacts might manifest as a result. The reward for clever composition? The opportunity to compose again, perhaps producing something less profound, or more, or something. I believe that Authoring's a similar endeavor. There is no doing it right, just a doing which might not very often seem in any way right. Not Doing also exists as a possibility, and every author produces plenty, more than enough, of this result as well. Nobody will be offended or long remember the catalogue of an author's Never Dones. It might be Commit The Offense Or Else in this world.

I have a small confession to make. My window doesn't actually overlook the center of the universe. I just made that up so that I could feel a tad more self important than I would have otherwise felt. The statement was a work of fiction and any resemblance to any actual window out into any world would be mere coincidence, on advise from my lawyers. Much of my life has become a similar work of fiction only coincidentally related to anything real, but then that's what it means to be an authentic author, the genuine article. One writes with grave misgivings. One pretends to possess windows that exist solely as inspiration, and they work! One accumulates pages and pages and pages of the result to produce manuscripts that never really feel finished. The self-consciousness never retreats. Neither do the necessary unconsciousnesses. Mastery never manifests. Stories result, the value of which should never become entirely clear. If I write well or poorly this morning, I will be rewarded with a blank page upon which to scribble again tomorrow.

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