Rendered Fat Content


Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins:
Miss Alice Kurtz (1903)

" … who once upon a time left a few utterly ordinary stories behind …"

I'm not much of a Booster. I'd make a piss-poor Rotarian, Kiwanian, or member in decent standing of the local Chamber of Commerce. My father before me stood off to the side, not precisely hiding but actively trying not to become the center of anyone's attention. The salesmen and hail fellows gladhand their way through their lives while others stand aside and gladly bid them pass by, for they seem to be on some mission. They're going somewhere, sure and certain of their own salvation, and excited at the prospect of improving others' chances, too. They seem to hold God's ear, his attention, with the explicit intention of collecting their due.

I feel uncertain whether I'm on a righteous path.
I continue my experiments, hopeful that I'll ultimately pass the exit exam, but uncertain if I can. My work might not be the best, though it very likely isn't the worse anyone's ever seen, either. I have never successfully convinced myself that I might possess genius. My work often shows promise. Whether it delivers on those promises remains an open question in my mind, so I cannot in good conscience promote my products as if they were the product of either the very best or the absolute brightest. I'll admit that some stories seem to approach acceptable. Most strike me as ordinary, unexceptional, and slightly embarrassing. I keep going anyway, starting each work day the same way, preparing to bare my soul before baring it again. Anyone might think I suffer from some obsession or something.

I've noticed that I can become effusive when promoting another's work, but I tend to stay home when facing the prospect of promoting my own. I might leave a sample of my work where someone might find it, but I'm unlikely to stand up on any stage to tout it. I know that when Publishing, commercial bluster seems unquestioned. Of course, the author might forgivably inflate his accomplishments and might insist that his are better than his competitor's. The whole enterprise amounts to a competition set up to winnow winners from losers, where even an author cum publisher should become shamelessly self-promotive. I feel Skeptical about this game. I question the necessity of becoming a marketer as well as an author, as well as a publisher. I prefer to promote from behind.

I remain painfully aware that I'm nobody's—not even my own—booster and at least equally aware that this absence works to my detriment. This whole question adds to my abiding sense that I'm engaging in a fool's mission and that, unsurprisingly, I'm cast as the fool again. How could it have turned out any different? I capped off my youth by earning a degree in Marketing. I figured at the time that if I'd been schooled in the booster's techniques, I might find the resources to be periodically shameless in my defense. I learned the skills but have rarely found opportunities to exercise them. I feel altogether too self-conscious to engage so shamelessly, even—especially—in my own interest. I ache instead for the sort of notoriety that might render me nameless, a much-revered nobody special who once upon a time left a few utterly ordinary stories behind for others to find for themselves.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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