When I first saw Sam Abell’s book, The Photographic Life, I remarked to my long-suffering spouse that I felt somewhat defeated. Actually, I believe my precise words were, “Fuck it. I’m throwing all my cameras and lenses in the trash.” At which, of course, she merely shook her head: here he goes again, round 1,397 of endless self-flagellation. Yes dear, and while you’re at it, can you do the grocery shopping?
Well, I didn’t. Throw my cameras out, I mean. I may well have done the grocery shopping. I don’t know. It was a long time ago. Instead — instead of the camera-trashing, I mean, not the damn grocery shopping; this post is not concerned with groceries; these divagations that take on lives of their own will be the death of me — instead, I went out and tried to take better pictures.
What I am working around to, if you can just kindly pay attention here and ignore that whole thing about groceries, is a suspicion of those people who declare, “Oh, I love so-and-so. She’s the writer who made me feel that I could be a writer, too.” That, it seems to me, is setting your sights pretty low.
The only writers who interest me are those who make me feel I’d best burn the manuscript and go fishing. My long-suffering spouse, it need hardly be said, is often heard to say such things as “Yes, dear, and while you’re at it, can you light the barbecue?”
Somehow, I never do. Burn the manuscript, that is.
Perhaps I’m alone in this. No, not in lighting the barbecue. Everybody does that. Can you stop with these distractions? I mean, perhaps I’m alone in this desire to be defeated, or in this vulnerability to defeat. But I hope not.