If I've learned anything in all these years of typing stuff for online consumption, it's that I never quite know for sure who's going to be reading any particular item thereof, and I think it's fair to say that I do at best a halfhearted job of promoting it: I don't know how I'd react, had I any greater level of celebrity than "infinitesimal." That said, once in a while I get a smidgen of recognition: I am still actually sort of proud to have made it into the list of bloggers interviewed by Norman Geras, since his tastes, aside from that single lapse, are impeccable. And I can still count on a couple of thousand folks dropping by in any given week. More recently, I've made some effort to write fanfiction, partly because of my abiding interest in the universe of this particular fandom, but also because I've been trying to prove to myself that the skill sets for fiction and nonfiction overlap somewhere within my reach.

Regular readers here will note that I am not above posting something specifically to draw some audience segment, or to buy linkage from somewhere else, or simply to use up a title I thought up years ago but never had any opportunity to put into play. I am not yet comfortable enough as a writer of fiction, however, to attempt this level of audience manipulation. In a recent thread on FIMFiction, I rambled on for four whole paragraphs about the perfidy of fame:

As arguably the least experienced of the scribes here — two stories in all — I properly shouldn't have anything to say here, but if I weren't in the habit of shooting off my mouth I'd never have written those two stories. (Or the third I'm currently plotting, but you don't want to know about that.)

I have pretty much made peace with the idea that I'm not going to get within a three-day train ride of the Featured Box. And I begrudge nopony the opportunity to be Featured: it's a nice little bit of egoboo, and if you're working to build up a rep, you need all the views you can get. But I have learned, in sixteen years of writing nonfiction for the Web and eleven years before that on more primitive clouds, that of all the niche writers in the universe, I am one of the nichiest: ultimately, I suppose, I'm writing for myself, because who else would put up with this?

Of course, if I actually were writing only for myself, there'd be no point in cleaning the stuff up and submitting it for publication: I could do the Emily Dickinson thing and pile up a bunch of papers in the back of the room and maybe somepony won't throw them away after the wake and the estate sale. Otherwise: add a dash of OCD, stir briskly, and garnish with entirely too many colons. Bake until underdone, and submit. Simple recipe, once you get the hang of it. Not that anypony needs to take advice from the likes of me.

Which is, I suppose, entirely too convoluted a way of saying that I have (at this time) no desire to become a household word. And if I did, all of a sudden this would be a lot more like work, and if I wanted to work, I'd be at the office right now instead of taking three days off. (Though I admit I did all the yardwork before dinner, so I won't have to think about it again for a while.) Maybe twenty years from now, assuming I have twenty years from now, I'll look back at something I wrote and say, "You know, that wasn't half bad."

Obviously I had overworked myself the day I wrote that.

Still, it's a bit overwhelming to see that yes, I've spent almost half my life tossing stuff up on a screen for public inspection. Some of that stuff is really good; some of it is, um, not quite so good. (I am trying to reduce my ongoing dependence on the modest term "sucks.") But that last line is guaranteed to be true: even today, I occasionally flash through a section of the archives, and once in a while I'll actually smile at a paragraph I wrote, because, you know, it wasn't half bad.

The Vent

  1 September 2012

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