Here kitty, kitty.
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This is not a rant
You might consider it so, but it’s not. There’s not enough venom here. What there is, develops late in the piece and is in context quite mild. It’s a bit of introspection.1
Who should not read further
If you are female and not in the mood to risk a ruffled feather, skip this read. Not saying you will have ruffled feathers, but the possibility always exists.
If you need a spinning emoji, catch you later.
If you like your shortbread in nibbles, first I’m surprised you made it this far, and second, I warn you this ain’t the Reader’s Digest version.
Preambulatory crap aside….
Some twit had the temerity to interview me.2 Me! Not her fault, some bigger twit short filler for a monthly, was scrambling to make deadline and sent a newbie out to interview an unknown. Two zeroes, you must expect are gonna add up to another zero. The project was reasonable, I suppose as both the interviewer and the interviewee were superfluous in the grand scheme of things. Expendable.
The interview didn’t go all that well
PI: Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions.
SPW: I must admit I don’t understand why you want to interview me.
P: We like to poke into obscure corners of the field.
S: Hmm. Obscure. We’ll I’m certainly qualified there.
P: No offense intended.
S: None taken. But it’s brutal to have someone validate my own thoughts on my standing.
P: Are you easily offended?
S: Yes and no.
P: Explain that, if you would.
S: I ask for criticism of my work. Rarely get it. When I do, it’s very good. Good for me. I mean, to learn, or drop something cold or improve.
P: Is it ever difficult to take?
S: Sure, sometimes, but I try not to let a reviewer see or hear my disappointment. Otherwise, I lose a resource. Hard to come by, resources.
P: How about outside of your work? I mean are you easily offended?
S: Back to critiques. It offends me when someone doesn’t understand what I’ve said, or I’ve said it poorly and they chastise me for my failure, when there seem to be two failures in play. Same for personal life. Dealing with criticism, I mean. Something disconnected upstairs, my upstairs, so people often don’t understand what I say or do. They get all pissy.
P: Not sure I understand.
S: Pissy? Means they get incensed. Offended. Indignant.
P: No. Got that. So, you are easily offended?
S: Don’t know as it’s easy. It is frequent. Few know me well enough to offend me that way. Most bad things said about me are true. I’m not a monster or ignorant. But I am conservative and can’t brook pretentiousness. Or meanness or greed. But yeah, meanly presented criticism is difficult to handle. Needed, but difficult.
P: You covet criticism?
S: Yup. Of my writing. Less of my personal life. Tough as it is to accept criticism, it’s tougher to criticize effectively. Not that important though, right now, as we’ve so many real evils to remedy.
P: Fancy you fight against evil?
S: Wouldn’t go that far. I don’t look good in tights and a cape. Besides, a little evil at the right time in the right way gets the job done.
S: A pound of evil might do where a ton of nice would be wasted.
P: Still not clear.
S: Okay. Johnny keeps bullying littler boys and sissies at school. Talking to him ain’t getting the job done. Daddy, or a bigger boy at school with his ears screwed on right figure to set Johnny straight.
P: Not following you.
S: Took that example from a Milestone piece I’m working on. Daddy finally hears of Johnny’s, um, misadventures and pounds a lot of dust from Johnny’s britches. Get that?
S: Or Duke, an older boy at school interrupts Johnny’s abuse of a younger lad and soundly cleans Johnny’s clock.
P: Johnny benefits from this?
S: Does or doesn’t. Younger kids and sissies do. Johnny thinks harder about the next opportunity to bully. May think hard enough or long enough to see error of his ways.
P: Teaching with fear?
S: Not fear. Respect. Johnny respects Dad’s or Duke’s ability to trim his ears. Pretty soon that respect matures into a little more respect for people in general. You get older, it’s tougher to know whether or not the little girl over there has a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. You don’t risk teasing her for her freckles, for fear she’ll put you on your butt. You think more, bully less.
P: Still, that’s fear.
S: You call it what you want. It works. But there are genuine evils we need to recognize and exorcise.
P: You have a habit of putting it right out there, don’t you?
P: You are outspoken.
S: Yes. Right after practicing crude, offensive, sarcastic and obscure, I’m a pragmatist.
P: A bit misogynistic?
S: I try not to be, but it seems to work out that way. Talk about not handling criticism! Excuse me, I know I’ll take the gaff for this, but women work at being offended if the writer is male.
P: You don’t believe that!
S: I do. My problem, I think, is I don’t understand women. That’s okay in itself. Even bigger problem is I care that I don’t understand.
P: Are you something of a misanthrope?
S: Not a point of pride, but who can not be a misanthrope? It seems rather unavoidable. Hasn’t always been this way. I used to believe people were, would be, good, given half a chance.
P: They’re not? They don’t?
S: Not anymore. Seems a product of the times.
P: That seems to be an undertow in a lot of your work.
S: Even in fiction, it’s easier to write what you know, what you believe. I write a lot but most of it never makes press.
P: You trail some of your post with “FF: some number.” What does that mean?
S: Interesting that you should ask.
S: I believe only one other person, that is one reader, asked what it meant. Means what I wrote was “fluff.” That’s a “fluff factor.” Not that the piece doesn’t have a message. Just that it’s not what I consider a serious work.
P: Why do you write “fluff” then?
S: To maintain a presence.
P: Whatever does that mean?
S: Means if you don’t show up in a “reader” list, people forget to look at what you’ve done.
P: So that’s to be in front of a potential audience? To get them to read your work?
S: Yes. But it doesn’t work well. It’s that or the bulk of what I write is crap.
P: Why doesn’t fluff work?
S: I don’t use pictures of kitty cats often enough.
P: You’re not serious?
S: Kind of. Defines the audience. More than once did pieces showcasing dogs. Got good traffic. Not because of what I said, but because, I think, there were “doggies” involved.
P: Aw, that’s cute!
S: I rest my case.
P: What does that mean?
S: Serious work is not a top draw except to specialized audiences. In the case of my generation, it’s because Mrs. Bynnington or whoever was your tenth grade Literature teacher, made you read Crime and Punishment. To this day, you have an aversion to literature.
P: Literature teachers still insist on exposure to the classics.
S: Classics Illustrated hardly qualifies as exposure.
P: Um. You think you write Literature?
S: Not hardly. But even when I’m doing satire or humor or just narrative pieces, I don’t think an emoji enhances the effort itself. I ask people to read. Think. And, when it strikes their fancy, to bellyache and tell me clearly why the work is scuzz.
P: What do you mean ‘specialized audiences’?
S: If you write about gardening, engine repair, Italian cooking, the latest initials-only mental difficulty, or care and feeding of Koi, you have a dedicated readership. Because they want to read what you have to say to learn or to pick a fight with you.
P: You don’t specialize?
S: Nope. Not qualified. Except as a curmudgeon.
P: You invest a lot of time in writing?
S: Is it that bad?
P: No, no, no! What I meant was, you’ve admitted to spending a lot of time writing. Why do you do it?
S: There are really, I guess something short of half a dozen reasons I write.
P: You’d share them?
S: Sure. No charge. I want to entertain. I wax serious and critical. When I can though, I like to make people laugh. At least smile. Be nice to educate about life a little. Encourage people to think. Funny thing about all that.
S: Makes me think too. Makes me work to understand. That’s education of sorts.
P: Is that all?
S: That’s a lot. But no. It’s also an ego thing.
P: You admit your ego comes into play?
S: Sure. To deny that would be to lie. Writers almost, that’s important, almost without exception write ultimately to massage their egos. They say otherwise, they need to grab hold of their britches, pull’m up snug, and start reassessing.
P: Not for the pure joy in creating something. Something to take pride in?
S: Joy? That’s bullshit. Pride? That’s the same thing as ego. If it concerns you, a matter of degree, but it’s still self-appreciation, narcissism.
P: That’s harsh.
S: That’s truth. You put a writer in solitude with a pad and pencil, take away her audience, she’ll learn to knit. A writer’s biggest audience is the writer herself.
P: You went feminine. Is that a slur?
S: No. It’s concession to the absurdity of our society’s preoccupation with social correctness.
P: That needs more explaining.
S: Okay. Can’t we just admire a writer because she’s a writer? Does good work? First, we are expected to admire she’s female and has simply by virtue of the fact she’s accomplished something unique or special, done something no man can do.
P: I ‘m with you so far…
S: Of course, you are. We are not allowed to recognize a mistake and compensate; we are expected to overcompensate in every aspect of life.
S: If descendants of Eve ask reparations, there’ll be hell to pay… Gee, there’s a short story in that.
P: I think we’re done here…
S: See, I knew you’d circle around to that misogynist thing. Not true, really.
P: Seems so to me.
S: Because you work hard at wanting it to be true. Puts wind in your sails to think you’re downtrodden.
P: And that bothers you?
S: Normally no. It does bother me when it’s not true and I have to deal with a male-basher who can’t see that as bad as misogyny.
Um. At that point, the interview was over. Never asked about my new album, “Snuggling-in with Prejudice”.
1 Not a new word for me, but trendy it seems. “Introspection” is bandied about when an author, intentionally or not, pretends to argue with himself on a sensitive or controversial subject. Since it is introspection, it’s not really firm conviction, is it? Therefore, no one can level blame for misguided conclusions. Right? Like your alter ego isn’t really part of who you are? Introspection is not so much who you are as much as it is ‘who are you?’
2 I write fiction, not MSM news or historical accounts. Portraiture bordering sometimes on bizarre or absurd. Seeking to entertain, I let my mind run amok until a character breathes, then I stand back and watch. Factual events make for good places to start to see if it’s possible to amuse or incense. Either result is acceptable, something of a success. It’s unnecessary to explain amusement. Rile someone, they start thinking to get back at you. Thinking is a good thing, though in short supply nowadays. I’ll gladly take that result.
Surrogate Episodes III and IV are posted. Of course, they’re NSFW. You’d be disappointed otherwise. If you’ve managed to get lost and found yourself here by mistake, you might first look at the introduction to Conversations. So you understand more of what you’re looking at. Otherwise, it’s akin to walking into a Bingo parlor thinking it’s a Republican Caucus.