Yesterday, I received via email -- O cold, postmodern disconnect, thou maketh me tear at my breast! -- my first officially official rejection, merci, magazine that dare not speak its name. Putting aside for a moment any humorless jocularity about now qualifying for starving artist assistance, 'twas a series of strange sensations pinballing in the caverns of my skull.
To begin, beneath the loamy verse: how I view my stuff. A beacon of cringe, so why submit in the first place? (Various & sundry humans -- yes, I know two or three -- encouraged this tiny lark to grow into a carrion-chomping vulture, but all failure, as it were, falls decidedly on these shoulders.)
Few have seen few, even fewer have been posted, some have professed enjoyment, others remained politely quiet, though one person did in fact pelt my house, not with rotten vegetables, but slugs from a twelve-gauge. We all can't be Super Franzen Up Up And Away, bub.
So again I (& other equally strange beings, it seems) query all you excellent-to-awful people, why submit, why reveal snapshots poorly (though valiantly) composed to those who, in this particular case, aren't the subject of the work? If I may be permitted to wax rhetorical, is not the craving for recognition innate in all of us? To take one extreme(ly obvious) example, nihilists don't blog since they're busy foraging for roots & screaming at the stars, I blog, you blog, everybody blog thus evidemment we want someone to glance at our something, even if they're not reading us -- save the parsing for I'm aware that a familiarity coupled with close readings of non-confessional texts can glean kernels thought cleverly hidden by the author.
The desire for validation -- or, if so inclined, Validation (or having something important to say or respect or appreciation or communion with fellow travelers or whatever synonym you prefer) -- is that not a passing fancy but something worse, a weakness, especially disturbing at the feet of the self-appointed gatekeepers of culture; Jack Poet & Jill Novelist are in print, so that's what I want, of course of course, horse? One rejection from one (or more, I've no clue) reader doesn't change that; the universal arbiter of taste is fickle for if she wasn't, you'd all be midnight headphoning Opeth just like me, goddamn cretins.
To step further in this garbled incoherence, can this quest -- and here I, for the sake of argument, set aside the notion of pure art for art's sake 'cause I know that's a whole other wormy can but this sentence is already beguiling accepted syntax so let's save that cataclysm for tomorrow -- be classified as a temporary bout of hubris; on my part for saying you should pay attention, or on theirs hell no we chose to dismiss this tripe, now who's the cretin, hardee har har.
In today's magical, Jetsonian world, there's a neo-egalitarian internets at a chunk of the planet's fingertips where the amount of time & care (often sizable) poured into the mold of a single piece can be (fleetingly) experienced, even if it harbors distinct artistic limitations & believe me, I'm well aware of mine as the degraded, plastic facsimile of long-rotted Romanticism. Different language & approach, but all the salient, tired elements are present, variation on the same clutch of personal themes orbiting the same handful of people & past scenarios every. single. time be electronically damned. Hell, (relatively) cheap self-publishing is readily available for the old school bookworm if fabulous web pages ain't your gig though, in either case, be wary of the omnipresent monster lurking on the periphery ready to bite your goddamn head off:
[N]ow he was being asked to take into account the potential effect of his writing on a completely anonymous readership. This effect, moreover, was not only impossible to control but also irreversible. Once something is printed, it is out of the author's hands for good, no matter how strong his will to perfection. -- p. 95-96, Kafka: The Decisive Years by Reiner Stach.Fucking yikes & amen.
Writers, poets, painters, musicians; deeply skilled, hardworking artisans or drunken sub-amateur scribblers, we're going to imagine regardless & since I, or anyone I know, isn't sailing their economic boat upon the creative sea, we are so s-m-r-t, why seek [insert euphemism for validation here] at all? One too many, I guess. At least it didn't cost a dime.