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Charles Ricketts:
The Hermit; illustration for Oscar Wilde’s ‘
The Teacher of Wisdom’
(c. 1890–1924)

"Success and failure now come to me for definition."

Things look different after perspective's shifted. That innocuous statement doesn't quite cut the difference. Before, perspective amounted to a kind of blindness. However smug and self-important, my understanding was unavoidably misguided. It omitted the next insight and all the following ones. It amounted to the very best I could perceive then, but not all I would ever come to understand. I had no choice but to act upon what I could see and what I could comprehend. It would have been the same as screaming at sheep to expect me to perceive beyond what I could sense. The world I now inhabit made no sense a few short days ago. Now, my pasts should fade into ignorance.

Part of the Vanity Press relies upon a certain desperation on the part of its authors.
It can thereby demand and receive concessions. The lower tier of those providers seems to deal in bait and switch propositions, playing on the would-be author's inhibitions, daring them to say "No!" when they know damn well they couldn't. They still feel captive to a machine they probably do not understand, entranced by visions of sugar plums and fame. To become a published author, people will volunteer for almost anything, and unscrupulous purveyors stand ready to prey upon their innocent aspirations.

I know a lot about publishing. I've spent twenty years dancing around the industry, which is not strictly an industry at all. It features its dreamers and its derelicts, its masters and its apprentices. It's not nearly as magical as many imagine it to be. It's business, however much it might also be a calling, and it depends on an ungodly amount of shameless self-promotion. The product is always the author, not the book, and certainly not the prose. People buy books written by people they know, so it makes perfect sense for a publisher to insist upon some proof of followership. How many social media connections are in that audience? How many dedicated followers? How many patronage supporters?

What sort of an author shall I be now? Now that I've realized that I'm in charge? Now that I perceive what I once aspired for some gatekeeper to see in me first? I can ask myself more challenging questions. I can dare them to disclose first. I can hold my water until I find my place and need not settle for any other. This Discernment seems like a sort of wisdom. I can see shit and Shinola, perceive the essential differences, and choose with which I will associate. The prestige, whatever it's worth, will be mine to muster and nobody's to lend. I get to become my own best friend, the author of my experience, as well as of my stories. Success and failure now come to me for definition. I supply my vision and choose.

See my
Weekly Writing Summary here.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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