The Greek writer Thucydides both took part in, and then chronicled the Peloponnesian War. But he was hardly praised for either effort.
In response to criticism of his literary work, he said:
“The lack of the fabulous may make my work dull. But I shall be satisfied if it be thought useful by those who wish to know the exact character of events now past which, human nature being what it is, will recur in similar or analogous forms. It has not been composed to court temporary applause but as a lasting possession.”
Now, from the first moment I read these words, I related to them. It may not make much sense, seeing as my own work is full of elements of the “fabulous” — magic and the supernatural and what have you — but still, I relate to these words.
Though no one appreciated his work, Thucydides maintained his pride. Or, perhaps he was merely countering the many blows he received, in an attempt to keep himself intact. Perhaps he actually felt very badly about himself. Probably, it would have been very difficult for him not to have done.
There are millions upon millions of people, nowadays, who want to be writers. Well — I suppose they already ARE writers, but they want to be RECOGNIZED, SELF-SUFFICIENT writers. Very few of us are, however. Unless you’re fortunate to know someone in a close-knit inner circle: if you’re a former professor, perhaps, who knows many literary people.
But most of us don’t know any literary people. Most of us are UNKNOWN. But how to become known, you ask? Well, perhaps we never will. Perhaps we’ll keep writing, until there’s not enough electricity or alcohol left in the entire world to sustain our habits . . . and then we’ll fizzle out, with no one ever having known we were here. Or possibly, they’ll discover us after we’ve died, and they’ll say how talented we were! Well, thanks a lot, New York Times.
But anyway. This is about the pride of Thucydides! Maintain your pride; and though you may fizzle out, remember that it wasn’t for nothing. If it makes no difference to anyone else, at least let it make a difference for YOU.
Goodnight, and good luck.
(P.S. — This entire post may actually have been written in response to two one-star reviews and ratings which I received within three days of each other. But my “Thucydian” pride maintains that it was not.)