Friday, June 8, 2012

- Laziness And Insecurity

Today is the official anniversary of this blog which is now 5 years old. I've been reflecting on my 5 years of writing it and it occurred to me that I'm on the same basic moral ground as someone like Michael Moore - although less successful. I have become, for all intents and purposes, a propagandist. I'm someone who contributes nothing except to reinterpret events in a light and language that makes my view of things seem the most persuasive. On my best days I come up with snappy and clever ways to foist my views on others, on bad days it's just not that snappy or clever. I call it fashioning "weapons in the war of ideas", but really it's just propaganda.

Of course, No one's paying or forcing me to do it. The word 'propagandist' conjures images of some poor sap being carted off to a gulag while someone like me calls it a "rest camp", but that's not me at all. I'm just a guy with strong opinions who doesn't have enough sense (or the good manners) to keep his mouth shut. I'm literally doing it because I believe in it - I believe my side is right. And while that makes it worth more in some ways, it's worth considerably less in others. Sincerity is virtuous sure, but since it's just the virtue of some unpaid amateur schmo, who really cares?

I'd like to say that I didn't really set out to become a propagandist, but it's not true. I started writing this blog 5 years ago because I thought my side needed better (or at least more frequent) telling. Back then the left still had the right completely drowned out. In the last five years I think that's changed somewhat. Having a Republican President and Congress had made the right complacent, and all sorts of leftist nonsense was creeping in. But that all changed with Obama's election, Obamacare, and the Tea Party. Now the right is energized, and remembers what's important. But it's made my contribution to the discussion a little redundant.

These days there are so many more voices that agree with me out there that I don't know if I'm being helpful anymore. I'm demonstrating no real courage in the things I write like my friend John Derbyshire recently has. I'm revealing no greater truths. I'm not really moving the political ball down the field at all. In fact, I'm not even discussing my area of expertise where I might have a somewhat greater chance of doing so. I find myself saying "surely everyone knows this by now" an awful lot while writing things. And with a rare exception or two, I don't think I'm contributing anything that isn't already being said by lots and lots of professionals with greater skill than me. I'm just a propagandist. In fact, I'm not even that. I'm just an 'amateur' propagandist who can still only aspire to be a real propagandist someday.

I've been told by several people, that I should write a book. "No money in it" they say "but great personal satisfaction." I hear them and I find myself thinking "Personal satisfaction sounds pretty good... I can always make money elsewhere." But then the thought of deadlines, and editorial meetings and the unmet expectations of others always stops me in my tracks. Even worse is the idea of trying to sell myself to the various agents, publishers, editors and whoever that would be necessary just to get a book deal - forget about actually trying to see the thing through. Passing off a far right wing dyslexic hedge fund manager and gun nut to the literary world as worthy of their attention, does not seem like an easy sell to me.

I guess I'm like most people in that regard... lazy. I really only write because it's easy for me. Very easy if you believe the stories my friends tell about how hard it is for them. And I don't really have any interest in doing the hard work it would take to make a book happen. It involves coping with tons of rejection, and writing on command instead of as the whim strikes me. There is a big difference between rowing yourself around the lake for fun, and doing in the bottom of a Roman galley. And I don't think the modest acclaim that comes with a book being published would be worth all that grief to me.

So here I am then. Doing more of the same thing I've been doing for the last 5 years because I'm too lazy and insecure to go to the trouble of getting real credit for it. I'll probably be doing it for another 5 - assuming I continue to be lazy and insecure, and I see neither of those things ending anytime soon. Maybe one day I'll need the challenge, and I'll finally face down the publishing industry - probably right around the time that the combination of pirate bay and the kindle drive the last publishing house out of business. Then for all the grief and distress brought to my life by the process I won't even get to see something on a shelf someplace. And whatever my effort, it will all end up being cast to the heavens as random electrons when the Chinese set off an EMP to start the next world war. That sounds like just my luck.

And that would also mean that the sum total of this blog - fifteen hundred posts, hundreds of thousands of words over the course of five years - was all done out of laziness, and for free. That sounds like me too. It's one hell of a hobby huh?

Last year my daughter made me a T-shirt for my birthday. It had a hand drawn hammer, saw and power drill on it to form a sort of Nike swoosh, and underneath were the words "Just OVER-do it". She said it nailed my personality to a T. That's seems to be truer than she knows.


Chess said...

Our little guy has turned 5..The next thing we know we will be having the sex talk. Then you will want the keys to the car.Sorry. I hear my friends go through that...Congrats...You have givin me some hope and alot of great places to look at when the market is kicking my ass.

If Mitt wins it will be interesting how the "tilt" of your writing changes...

Keith said...

I'll take that question concerning the revelation of greater truths. What may be strikingly obvious to you needs clarification for some of the rest of us. My IQ may not be north of 150, but it's way north of average (thank you, Lord), and you provide a lift to me on a regular basis. I never miss a WSJ editorial page, and your combination of insight, style, wit informs me at least as well as those pages. You are not shouting to the wilderness.

Tom said...

Very nice of you to say Keith, thanks.

Steven P. Beaver said...

Tom, When I last commented, I stated that it was silly to Congratulate you, that rather we should all be thanking you. That sentiment holds today. Thank you for clarifying and reinforcing my perceptions of the world, providing useful banter to mock my liberal mother-in-law with, and for brightening my day with you wit.

So, congratulations of finding a hobby you enjoy, and thanks for providing mental stimulation for the the rest of us.