picking up on an earlier conversation

…I suppose the central and most honest question, from my perspective, becomes: what are your main objects in a) teaching writing and b) writing yourself?

because, for category a), answers I’ve witnessed include, in no particular order: i. self-aggrandizement, e.g. increasing your readership/fanbase/cult of personality to the extent, in some notable cases, of recreating the world in your own image; ii. making a living; iii. contributing to the production of quality literature in the world; iv. helping others learn, grow, and develop new understandings of self and the world around them.

for category b), answers I’ve seen include: i. to get famous; ii. to scratch an itch; iii. to discover what you think you know and open it up for revision.

I’ve seen way too many people engaged in subcategory i (or probably that should be I) pursuits. it consistently makes me mad, and then subsequently sad. I mean, really, who the hell would *want* to be famous? just *look* at the kinds of lives hollywood stars live. yeah, so they’ve got the cash and nice houses and great bods and whatnot, but I have to ask myself if they even really *live* at all. maybe angelina jolie– she is taking flying lessons after all. but they can’t even go out in public without getting mobbed and tabloids publishing and twisting their private relationships to shreds. I know there are a lot of people who feel sympathy is wasted on the rich and famous who’ve clearly chosen their own paths. I’m just saying: fame. can you honestly tell me it’s a GOOD thing?

I dunno. maybe you think so. we all have differently-compelled and -enabled egos. mine says to me:

“make stuff that’s fun and whimsical, sometimes even weird. take a risk, explore; poke and gaze and work it all up into something lovely and captivating– then put it out on a little table on the front lawn for people who walk by to look at, pick up and shake, sniff, sing to, etc.

“and then pick up by the seat of its pants what you know, and what you’re in the process of learning and reassessing, and go into a classroom– and take a can opener to other people’s heads. put that can opener into the people’s own hands and invite them to poke around inside. make a place where everybody involved can lever out the grey lump and work it into stupendous concoctions. go, ooooooooh, collectively.”

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