Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What makes a difference?

Graham Sutherland

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Somerset Maugham's Cakes And Ale at Tim's in Ptown. Signed by Maugham and Graham Sutherland, the illustrator. Tim was kind enough to pull it off of a shelf for me knowing I have a weakness for books signed by artists.The subject, interestingly enough, is what has been on my mind for a long time, but especially in recent days. What that is I will get to soon enough.

Before I do I would like to express my shock at what I encountered from Maugham right off. To put it simply: he eviscerated and ruined a peer and friend in print as pretty as you please as though he was making himself a cup of tea.

In painting a devastating portrait of a fellow writer he asked the question: what is the little talent you have worth, what is your soul worth, if you sell it to advance your career? I cannot help but wonder. It has been my experience that all these things people do to keep themselves in the public eye do little good. I know of artists who have sold their souls a dozen times over and it has done nothing to satisfy their lust for celebrity or fame. They merely become yesterday's news with the dawn of a new day.

You would have to think that it is really fate or luck or destiny, and that like quicksand, the more you struggle, the quicker you disappear. Maugham was cruel beyond measure, but he laid out in great detail what was on my mind. He didn't have to do it at Hugh Walpole's expense. He made an example of him. He also acknowledged his own hypocrisy in doing so, that he was also guilty of this crime, just not as good an example, and certainly not as much fun.

I say all this because there are those that think I am guilty of hiding my light under a bush for not promoting myself more, for not trying to sell my work, for not getting myself out there. I am deservedly embarrassed by all that I do in that regard, and to me it is considerable. It is not that I lack confidence in myself. Quite the contrary. For while I may have a high opinion of myself, I have zero reason to think that anyone else should share that opinion. I am certainly in no hurry to try to change anyone's mind. People should think what it pleases them to think for whatever reason they think it.

That I think and feel this way gives me the liberty to do my work, or not. Whatever happens happens. If I fulfill the promise others felt I had or surprise still others by achieving something beyond what they perceived was my talent is of no consequence; I must trust in and follow my own path. Life is not professional sports. You don't owe the fans anything!

-- Post From My iPhone

No comments: