I don’t know if degraded puns were fashionable in Wordsworth’s day. I do hope they were; such a waste of a word’s worth otherwise.
Wait! Don’t stop reading just yet. I’m perfectly aware of how repelling that must have been for most of you and I do apologise. But it was one of those things that you have to say out loud even if you realise that probably the same thought has struck everyone else at some point but they’ve just shown superior judgement in terms of character, sanity and communal well being by pretending it hasn’t. Because there’s the other part of you that thinks may be, just maybe there is reason to believe that no one else has really thought about it, or hasn’t put it in words or hasn’t put it that well in words; maybe it’s not as pathetic an idea after all!
Which is what all those who write have in common, I suppose. The desperate urge to address, the constant commotion created by the ‘other part’ that calls for an audience because it thinks it has found something new, something fascinating, something that deserves attention. Fortunately for everyone, they -or dare I say ‘we’ (The best thing about writing about writers is that no one can come up to you and say ‘What do you know about writing?’ You could fish out the dullest, foulest most sterile set of words, but the second those words settle themselves on paper, you’re one of ‘them’, one of us!) – Fortunately for everyone, every now and then they do manage to come up with something that deserves attention or in exceptional cases, things that deserve more- affection, admiration, even aggression or attack! But what I find interesting and quite embarrassing is the fact that in order to be able to write you also have to be able to read what you’ve written and say, ‘Hmm... Can’t deny there is something to it. I wonder if others will see what I see.’
Giving in to or perhaps even feeling the need to write, is admitting to your self and to others that you are indeed capable of work worth other people’s time, sentiment and contemplation and more importantly, work worth your own efforts and consideration. For all my struggles with modesty, humility and self doubt, when I start writing, I do feel superior (if that’s the right word). ‘Look! Look!!’ yells every part of my being from page to page, dashing madly from upper-case to full stop and back again ‘Look! I came up with that, all by myself! And to be honest I can do better; but you do agree that it’s a fascinating idea, don’t you?’
And it would have been magnificent if that was the end of the story. A constant feeling of superiority that you must bear as an accessory for the possibility of actually creating something superior some day! Not a bad bargain at all. But how I wish the feeling of superiority was constant! Because you see, contrary to what we’ve been told through ages of bed-time stories and pages of religious text, modesty or humility is not that hard a thing to find. It’s just that the manner in which these things present themselves is not always virtuous!
At least that’s what I think. Most writers have their spells of modesty to go along with their bouts of superiority. And I could not for the life of me, bring myself to settle on either of the two. One usually ends up in a state of unrest and uncertainty over one’s originality, merit and appeal. No amount of appreciation can nullify the wrecking numbness of self doubt. I’m not sure if it’s a fairly modern thing that has come about as a result of thousands of years of digging out and creating all sorts of literature and critique or if the first man ever to write a superfluous word was just as susceptible to it, but this fear of being found out is unquestionably, quite a bitch!
The fact that people everywhere continue to write in spite of all this, is testament to their earnest urge to do so, their helplessness against it, their nerve to succumb to it and the sheer smugness that comes from the whole thing! All said and done, not an entirely unpleasant crowd!