Over the years I have written and said many revolting things. I have been pretentious, and a phony seeking praise for garbage that I have spewed and passed off as gems. I have written odes to typewriters, whiskey, and cigarettes as if my pithy take on the subject matter was some new distinctive approach. I have written drunk just to say I was drunk. I am in a glass house, and yet today I feel like throwing some stones.
You see nothing to me is more loathsome than you. Yes you, the readers, well maybe not my readers (we all like to pretend that we write for people with a higher standard) but certainly most readers. My friends recently pointed out that there is a sloppiness that exists even in our click-bait, with titles like “…. you won’t believe what happens next!” The reality is that none of this would be possible without you (and yes occasionally me) reading this garbage. The world is full of good writing, yet while the New York Times is singing it’s Swan Song, Buzzfeed was recently valued at over $1 billion. My guess is we are only about five years away from New York Times headlines that read “We Bombed Yemen, but You Won’t Believe what Happened Next!”
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…” We have become dull, we attract the attention of peers with posts about “weekly mantras,” and overcoming adversity. The entire concept of a Mantra is that it cannot be weekly. It either expresses your beliefs or it doesn’t. It can’t express your beliefs for THAT week. It’s as if we stopped caring how stupid we sound in an attempt to cram more rainbows and sunshine into a meaningless statement for mass consumption.
I am pissed off by people trying to make poetic Khalil Ghibran style statements with their writing, missing the mark atrociously, and being lauded with praise by their peers. We live in a world where Dr. OZ has his own magazine and TV Show for selling his magic snake oil. I am sure there is some jealousy here. I don’t have the following of someone who preaches faux love to eager masses. I also don’t have the ability to write that way. I genuinely wish I did. I wish I could create the kind of shit that readers find “soul empowering.” I can’t. Though not for lack of trying I assure you. I would “sellout” in a heartbeat if only I knew how to do it. I love the writing I do because it relaxes me, but that doesn’t mean that if I could write self-help books that sold by the millions I wouldn’t. I might resent it later on, but I would do it.
Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. I am incapable of writing that kind of dreck, I get two sentences in and then end up right back here in the sewer of my mind. I think my problem might be that what I find obvious, pretentious, and trite, others find profound, and it’s hard to fake it. I genuinely believe that the people writing and posting this garbage actually believe they are being wise. It isn’t, but the trick here is to delude yourself into thinking it is. How do you write a mantra without giving into the urge to punch yourself as hard as you can in the left temple for being an ass?
The other day I saw a play. It was a good play, but that is not relevant here. It was what happened after, during a Q&A with the theatre company when a woman raised her hand and offered up the following gem:
“You see, as a writer…”
At first I thought the bile coming up was due the fact that all I had eaten that day was 3 cupcakes and two coffees (to be fair that was still probably part of it) but then I realized it was what she had said. It was that this asshat was precisely the kind of person to post her personal mantra online, and write a play about her “long lost love.” The kind of person to put videos of kittens from buzzfeed in my newsfeed with the title “try watching this and not smiling.”
Her words hung in the air long after the meaningless mind-numbing observation that followed them. Her opinion was somehow supposed to matter more to this audience because she was a writer, and she needed everyone to be aware of that fact prior to stating it. This was not just a person that had an observation, but a writer. All of a sudden I felt dirty for sitting in this room. Like no amount of soap, or even lye will cleanse me from this moment. This atrocious moment. Her “African style” necklace jingled around her neck, drawing my attention like a cup being dragged along a steel cage. It was the kind of thing Trader Joe’s will sell when they get around to hawking jewelry. I suddenly pictured her in line at trader Joe’s with her own bags, saying “As a writer I find your cheese selection delightful…” I wanted to move on, wanted to think of something else, but I couldn’t. She started entering all my thoughts. I wonder what she would be like in bed. Would she describe her experience as a writer then too? Would there be chanting, would there be awkward homemade candles that smelled like the failure of a million hippies? Where do these people come from? What Crate & Barrel store are they born in?
Today someone invited me to a networking seminar at the YMCA called the “The Art of Schmooze,” I was “endorsed” for Microsoft Office on Linkedin, and found out that low sodium v8 juice taste like ketchup mixed with stale water. Perhaps I can write a mantra out of all of this.
Daily Mantra: live life. Avoid redundancies. Shit… as a writer?