T-shirt. But if you still have tears, or an abundance of optimism, these links should take care of that. Well ... except for the TED talk. Where do they find these guys? And how can I be like that?
In the past five years of blogging I've pointedly pushed my tone away from the splenetic, chiefly because the majority of the web seems taken up with the wrong people venting their spleens to no good purpose. My wife faults me for my reticence, says I'd attract more readers if I just let loose on, say, religious ridiculousness for starters. God knows I've plenty of spleen to vent on that subject, but, geez: it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Except the marksman has become fond of the fish. Maddening though their (mostly) barrel-constrained antics might be.
But I digress. Here, courtesy of The Academic Ivory Tower (via The Atlantic), is an example of an attitude that makes me call for the guillotine. Wow, is Richard Bausch ever special. First of all, he's a writer. Secondly, he's a writer who turned down a $10,000 advance for a snap assignment. Why did he, a writer (read: "nearly impoverished arty-type"), turn down the easy money? Because said proposal was for yet another "How To Write" book, and Bausch is waaaaaay above such grotty stuff.
I have my own take on "How To Write" books: I think they're fab. I consume them the way some folks consume detective stories, pastoral guides or erotic vampire romances. Occasionally one of these books is insightful and unique enough to turn me on to the author's works of fiction — surely a bonus for any writer struggling to be heard above the fray. If the vast majority of them are easily forgotten, who cares? They're a subset of the self-help genre, and let me tell you: some of those books can change your life for the better, if you give them half a chance.
Bausch could have rolled up his sleeves and attempted something as grand and humane as John Gardner accomplished (twice). Hell, he could have dusted off a few wheezy lectures he gave at George Mason, then cashed the cheque on a pleasant vacation with the missus. But, no: "This work is not done as a job, ladies and gentlemen, it is done out of love for the art and the artists who brought it forth, and who still bring it forth to us, down the years and across ignorance and chaos and borderlines."
Well, fan me with a King James Bible: this man's never written a word to get himself laid! I don't trust him — and neither should you.
WP Flashback: my John Gardner post, which continues to attract comments.