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The Deluded Writer

September 13, 2014

Writer

This Deluded Writer would be committed to the Asylum for Amazon Rejects if everyone around him did not also buy into his delusions of grandeur. He denies the existence of television, or at least that people would rather watch colorful, flickering images than read a book. That includes his enablers, who pat him on the back for his literary talent, though the closest any of them have ever come to perusing a text, much less his own solipsistic drivel, is to pour over each sentence in a Craig’s List ad selling used tires. They, too, imagine a reading audience that is now extinct along with mutton-chop sideburns and the term “I do declare!” For the target audience of the Deluded Writer is America in the 1920s, when radio was just a novelty and there was no television – in a word, in the days when people had attention spans that could retain more than a five-second sound bite featuring a beer can juxtaposed with a set of silicon-enhanced boobs.

He may lament that the internet has decimated the book-reading population, but he also feels lucky to have Amazon around to give him the opportunity to publish his own books, to say nothing of the millions of other books written by people of his ilk who confuse their exaggerated opinion of themselves and their resistance to cogent thought with what qualifies as a competent work of literature. It never occurs to them that the only consequence of their cyber vanity is to occupy dozens of square miles of web-servers situated in the Utah desert that may have been put to better use storing data on the best places to buy a tie. But that is why our boy is called The Deluded Writer. He will go ahead and compose a treatise, or a novel, without having to heed the rigorous process of a genuine book publisher, with actual offices and editors, that once saved the public from meandering, often disconnected narratives rich in clichéd asides about Believing in Yourself and that happiness comes from being with other people. Such a waste of server space could be entitled My Life with an Alcoholic Dad and My Dog, Spot. Worse, The Deluded Writer will still believe that somehow a readership will arise from the Twitter- and Facebook-induced ashes of a once literate society for the sole purpose of buying his incoherent and uninteresting book, and even more implausibly, will actually read the damn thing before they once again subside into IM-abbreviating, mushy-brained habits of the new electronic media.

The main impetus behind these tedious and derivative titles is the advice from paid creative writing instructors that a writer must write what one knows. This would be sound advice if the writer in question knew about things that are little known to the reading public, for instance all the details of how the Qin Dynasty founded the Chinese state. But ninety-nine percent of writers opt for the lazy interpretation of this literary rule, and so they will tell the boring tale of their own quotidian lives that, contrary to their deluded opinion concerning their unbelievable uniqueness, differs very little from the quotidian lives of all the other undistinguished people on this planet. The moral of these books is always the same: Did you know that life is a hard road? And, most exasperating to the truly erudite reader who may have wasted a week on this narrative, is recognizing that the solemn writer may have expressed this moral as if he were the very first human ever to stumble upon this most obvious of truths, and, furthermore, that it is somehow the fault of SOCIETY, with the underlying and stupid belief that SOCIETY is a sentient entity responsible for the unfairness of Life. Then there is always the second part to this moral, and the one that makes the reader want to bash his head against a stone tablet copy of The Iliad, and that is the belabored hint that the writer is a bigger-than-life heroic figure for having put up with an alcoholic dad or for having been acquainted with a high school classmate who had four nose-rings.

The most deluded type of The Deluded Writer is the Poet, who is usually a young or very old woman who has strong feelings about her feelings, and thus wishes to express those feelings in a spontaneous way. She has heard about, without ever having read the works of, truly great poets like T.S. Elliot and Ezra Pound, and how their poetry can be understood only by other accomplished poets or at least by the multi-lingual cultural elite, but she confuses their cryptic lines that are informed by a vast reservoir of erudition and classical restraint with her own undisciplined ramblings about “the sun/ being a milk carton/ bearing a picture/ of a person happy/ to have just learned/ that Oprah has managed/ to cut another centimeter/ off Stedman’s penis.” In other words, she takes any old sloppy thought that, in her egomaniacal opinion, is a profound truth BECAUSE it issued from such a sassy, brave oracle of a brain, and then breaks the innocuous sentence up into arbitrary lines and calls it the work of a genius poet, since to return later to the composition with a cold editorial eye would betray her feelings. The next step is to self-publish a collection of these poems, each of which were written in less time than it takes to snap a selfie on her iPhone. Thereafter, whenever in the break room at her job at an aluminum siding business, she will refer to this work as “a slim volume of poetry,” a phrase that, in the literary world of the 1950s, connoted wit and elegance, but, today, goes right over the head of the guys loading the trucks with aluminum to be nailed to the homes of people addicted to Reality TV.

Still the most representative member of The Deluded Writer Club is our nutty boy who wants to believe that America is a nation of book-readers rather than a country of illiterate narcissists forever distracted by whatever can fit on the microscopic screens of their smart phones. In the end, the only person who does read his stuff is his mommy, a woman even more deluded than her son in that she will boast to friends at her scrapbook-making class about the amazing thirty-five-year-old literary talent that she spawned and thereafter nurtured using her own stock of well-worn homilies like “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” which just happens to be the title of her darling’s newest autobiographical novel about the four months he spent working the refrigerated section of a supermarket, a life-altering experience that taught him about “real people,” which any perceptive reader would interpret as an admission that this literary hack is more fit to replenish the inventory of soy milk and cottage cheese than to attempt to transform the experience into a mythical personal odyssey.

That leaves The Deluded Writer with only one option: to incinerate the entire world population and replace them with six billion mommy clones – one way to create your own market. The downside of this guaranteed fan base would be that whenever the Deluded Writer went outdoors, everyone would yell at him to bundle up, or, when in a restaurant, that he chew his food before swallowing.

(Check out my website: http://www.authorjamesfjohnson.com)

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