Nearly not this because of that
The old ketch has creaked back into port. Sails torn, hull breached, and masts split—exhaustion the only shared blanket.
When I first set out, the big city dazzled. It didn’t whisper my name, it called it out with a megaphone and fabricated neon signs in my honour, brazenly promising the most ephemeral of goods: engagement.
“Come here,” it whispered, its siren song backed by millions of dollars in VC funding. “Look what you could become.” A brief arm gesture to the billboards of writers with millions of fans, thousands of people paying to read their words.
How intoxicating. How irresistible. So I leased a spot, paying for the privilege of custom DNS resolution, ignoring the part of my brain screaming the hard-earned knowledge of thousands before me, “Money flows to the artist.”
But in truth that was the problem. Surely my words couldn’t constitute that. No gates had been swung open, no keeper had nodded approvingly at my passage.
Even as I was decorating my new home, the niggling thought that, “I’m not seeing anyone I don’t already know”, wouldn’t go away. Margaret Atwood. Joe Hill. Various and sundry doers of written magic. But where were the practitioners toiling on the ground, not yet hoisted by the platform?
And then the realization that the platform was not hoisting anyone—it was merely offering space, and in some cases boatloads of money—for people with their own pedestals to come and place them in their garden. The walls were lovely, dark and deep, but I had promises to myself to keep, so I deleted my account.
This was when the Twitter lifeboats were overflowing, so I jumped on to a self-hosted Mastodon instance, and staked out a home at write.as. It was exactly what I wanted. I wrote words.
Until the restlessness set in, and the thief of joy re-appeared. Maybe I had been wrong? Maybe the platform could be the hanging lantern at night, drawing people close enough to make out what I had written. Yes. Going back would draw them in.
Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, but I never claimed clarity of mind. Weird is a badge of honour. But what the fuck does, “a new economic engine for culture” even mean?
So I figured out Hugo, and set up a landing page for myself in the vastness of the open seas. No more shelter in one of the only four closed harbours visited by anyone anymore on the interseas. Only ragged people adrift on homemade rafts can find me now. There is no lighthouse.
The desire of any artist, or at least the one hiding secretly inside of me, is not to make money, or be famous. It is simply to have someone see something that has been crafted and say, “I liked that.” Or if another layer can be peeled away, at the rawest level, simply to have been intentionally seen.
If these words splash across your eyes, I have been found.