I’ve had no success in getting my writing published. I am on my ninth novel now. Yes, nine completed novels and nothing. I’ve written six screenplays, two novellas, too many poems and articles, and this, my 757th blog post. And nothing.My publishing success is limited to a momentary sports column, a handful of advertorials for British Columbia Tourism and failed copy for a toilet company. Once, I posted a comment about the paparazzi the day after Princess Diana’s death and got a positive reply. Yes, 19 years later, and I still remember that one comment. My most successful blog – 1,200 hits – was due solely to the image of Bachelorette hopeful Jade Elizabeth posted along with it.
Over these many years, I have accumulated hundreds of rejections from literary agents – all kindly phrased – while friends have listened to my writing ruminations with fading patience. Acquaintances are more interested because they don’t know any better.
It’s not that I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m just trying to figure out what I’m doing with all of my time. It’s a dream of something – recognition, immortality, dinner with the president, a night of naked adulation, an admiring smile. I am well aware of Orwell and Didion’s thoughts and agree that it must be in my nature and that I am my only I, but it doesn’t feel like that very often. Not today anyway. It seems more like I’m being stubborn or, more accurately, a dumb shit.
George Orwell’s Burmese Days is not a well-crafted tale, nor is it compelling; however it does remain a vivid portrait of Orwell’s own Colonial days in Burma.
Brutally vivid, it serves as a clear reminder of how civilized the English have never been: No natives in this club! It’s by constantly giving way over the small things that we’ve ruined the Empire. The only policy is to treat ’em like the dirt they are. It’s an English tradition to booze together and swap meals and pretend to be friends, though we all hate each other like poison. Hanging together, we call it. We should all go mad and kill one another in a week if it weren’t for that. Booze is the cement of the empire. Most grotesquely compelling of all is Orwell’s portrayal of the English hunt, first shooting birds from trees: Flory took one of the little green corpses to show to Elizabeth. ‘Look at it. Aren’t they lovely things? The most beautiful bird in Asia.’ Later, they corner a leopard: The leopard was writhing along on his belly, sobbing as he went. Flory leveled his gun and fired at four yards distance. The leopard jumped like a cushion when one hits it, then rolled over, curled up and lay still. Flory poked the body with his gun-barrel.
According to Buddhist belief, those who have done evil in their lives will spend the next incarnation in the shape of a rat, a frog or some other low animal. (Zuckerberg) intends to provide against this danger. He would devote his closing years to good works, which would pile up enough merit to outweigh the rest of his life. Probably his good works would take the form of (a for-profit charitable organization). Four (billion), five, six, seven – (his wife) would tell him how many – with carved stonework, gilt umbrellas and little bells that tinkled in the wind, every tinkle a prayer. And he would return to earth in male human shape – for woman ranks at about the same level as a rat or frog – or at worst as some dignified beast such as an elephant.*
(*Adapted from pp.3-4, Burmese Days, George Orwell)
George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language concludes with advice* for the writer:
1. Never use a scientific word or jargon where an everyday equivalent will do.
2. Never use a metaphor or simile you have heard or seen many times before.
3. Never use a long word where a short one will do
4. If it is possible to cut a word out, do it.
*I have taken the liberty of restructuring and editing Orwell’s list