I hadn’t meant to ignore your gracious request that I write for your new project, One Tongue Johnny. I just wasn’t sure how to phrase my declining to, politely. Maybe I’m still not.
A number of people behind various publications have either reached out to me or been good enough to reply personally when I had approached them, by now. The way it has gone in either instance has sort of left me ambivalent on the whole idea in terms of it fitting how or why I write at all.
For one thing, for several months now I have been concentrating primarily on the “art of the reply.” I have seen comments and responses on a lot of venues done so badly and crudely and even cruelly (Youtube is by far the worst I have seen), that it occurred to me that to reply is as valid a form of the writer’s art as any other. It is done so much and by so many, that it might as well be done skillfully now and then.
That’s one thing. Another, is that the various editor/curator/publisher types with these online publications, bless their hearts, always seem to be trying to project a message, and looking for people to write things compatible with it. Even for as “open-minded” as anyone I ever met calling that impossibility a virtue ever was, it always comes to a point where someone trying to manage multiple voices ends up saying, more or less, “I didn’t mean THAT open-minded, I meant THIS open-minded…” and then feathers just get needlessly ruffled, and minds needlessly closed even further.
And another is, between the obtuse and rather condescending tone taken with me when I have tried to submit something, and the fact that a few who had approached me to begin with fail to follow up with any meaningful establishment of a writer-editor process between us, I’ve mostly come to the conclusion that people are thinking “I need you to write what I want you to write” a lot more than they think they are thinking it.
So I have made a rule for myself after a few years at this bizarre activity: I write for and as and in behalf of myself, and if this means that I run an average of, say, nine views per post these days, great. Nine people read something I had to say, and maybe one of them can make some sense or some use of it.
But for me to compromise this absolute liberty to say exactly what I want to say, means I start saying something else. Don’t even bother to re-assure me that I can do that with you: I know better, with anyone, and really don’t want to be in the position of saying I told you so when I had told you so.
My other rule as regards readers is: nothing I write is ever, ever a thing I think of as belonging to me. It belongs to the reader, or I would not have bothered writing it. I do think that courtesy and consideration are served by crediting a quote accurately to its source, and ask that for no other reason than that. But if you ever find that something I write speaks to you, then quote me. I’d be honored and you don’t even have to ask. Giving me source credit is just good manners, but permission is already granted, to everyone.
So good luck, and no hard feelings that it just doesn’t suit my own aims.