I find joy in obscurity (and sarcasm). Most of my favorite authors, musicians, artists are/were relatively unknown. I think that specific taste taints the projects I choose to work on. I easily find myself stepping out of obscurity into oblivion. The breeze of disinterest can often fell my house of cards. That’s when I put forth the argument that art isn’t about numbers…and if it is then I should at least put on a pair of rose-colored glasses when I read them.
Let’s do the numbers!
Here is a list of the “Top 5” most popular short stories I’ve written.
#5 with 86 downloads… SILENCE: An Amigo Yarn Read Loudly
#4 with 220 downloads… LANDSCAPE OF LIFE: Why Vincent van Gogh Is Not Dead
#3 with 229 downloads… FLYING VIRGIN: A DecAmigo Short Story
#1 with 287 downloads… JAX & THE GODFATHER: Follow the Magical Map of Mystery
Huge hits, right!?!? Perhaps I should do a reverse list, a “Bottom 5”, if you will. By my logic, those are probably my better stories anyway.
Lately, I find more readers overseas than here in the states, which makes the whole experiment in free downloadable short stories a pretty worthwhile one. I’m big in Europe. Oh, yeah.
Now, I could rest in the thought that the numbers will grow over time. Certainly, it won’t always be like this, right!?!? Well, it might. It just might. There is absolutely no promise that I (or you or anyone else) will make the right connections at the right time in order to actually find an audience. I just may need to suck with no one knowing that I suck. “You never know,” I say as I pat myself on the back for not quite giving up yet. “It could be worse!”
Let’s go back in time!
It’s 2007 and I’m walking down Main Street in the bitter, 3 a.m. chill of Roosevelt Island. There’s a woman who keeps posting broadsides & open letters, taping them to light-poles. They’re heartbreaking accounts of nursing home abuse. I follow and photograph the story.
It’s 2008 and I’m reading random blog entries by Warren Ellis. He’s ranting about people making their own PDF newspapers and distributing them through the web. He mentions the word Papernet. It’s like taking the medium of our future and plunging it back into the past.
It’s 2009 and I shrug and give in to the quiet.
It’s 2010 and I’m feeding my newborn son at 2 a.m. We’re reading the life’s work of Eugene Peterson, specifically his translation of Joseph and his rainbow jacket. I find I have something to say. I find some old folders. I press together a week of introspection into PAPERNET (LITTER ROCK).
It’s 2011 and I do believe it’s vital to speak into the silence.
It’s 2012 and I’m stressed and tired.
It’s 2013 and I remember my old government job. One day, a paper rolled off the printer with only the word “worry” printed at the top. No one claimed it. Of course, I stuffed it into a folder. Now, I should go stuff these broadsides in odd places. I should litter rock even when no one is watching.
Bottom Line: Grab as many moments as you can. Speak to everyone who will listen. Someone may actually dig it and respond with more art.
Just do yourself a favor and avoid the comment threads or “reviews” of your stuff, especially on the Barnes & Noble website. You’ll thank me.
I’ll leave you (and me) with this final thought:
“We’re deathly afraid of that stabbing word pretentious, the word that students use to curse each other’s ambition. It’s a young person’s word, a shortcut-to-thinking word. I’m a big fan of pretension. It means ‘an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment.’ It doesn’t mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow.” – Warren Ellis