I mentioned to a poet friend of mine, one of the few I respect, if he believed a writer could consider himself a success by the amount of nude photos women and surprisingly number of men send to him.
I’m not sure how to measure my efforts as a success or as a failure. My point of view is if I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do as a profession, then I have achieved success.
I’ve mentioned my somewhat modest expectation to others when discussing the subject and it has received a variety of comments. But the comment that has been most popular is, “Bullshit! You can’t tell me you don’t want your book to be a bestseller or have your books made into movies and make a shit load of money. C’mon, everyone wants to be famous, and I’m not talking the fifteen minutes kind.”
“Famous isn’t good for a writer,” Ken Kesey once said. “You don’t observe well when you’re being observed.”
Fame and fortune would be wonderful perks, without a doubt, but these have never been among my motivations for being a writer. I sincerely am not concerned if what I write is accepted or rejected. Rejection letters are just fuel for my creative fire. I selfishly write for myself not for an audience. Twisting your prose to fit the perimeters of an audience is a fucking trap without any hope of escape.
A true writer knows this predilection is actually a curse we’re born with. It manifests in our souls, an insatiable need to be recognized. I described a writer in a poem written years ago:
A Poet is an Artist that paints in darkness
Words of the poem are colors creating light
A Writer is blessed with all of the answers
Cursed with the search of which questions to ask
It’s the first time I’ve ever directly quoted myself.
“Okay, but get back to the naked pictures, will ya. No one is interested in this boring literary mumbo jumbo.”
I couldn’t agree with him more.
“So, I’ve been receiving what I consider a large number of nude photos on my WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Gmail accounts, and I’ve concluded it is a direct correlation to my success as a writer. I’ve researched the subject to investigate if other writers have experienced the same anomaly. I haven’t discovered any mention of it being so. I surely can’t be the only writer out there that has received this type of appreciation in response to their work.”
My poet friend said he’d get back to me, it was something he had to think about. Although I judged him as an accomplished poet, he turned out to be an unreliable counselor. He would’ve been a terrible bartender. After a week I contacted him to ask if he had made a decision concerning my question. He first apologized and then started laughing, commenting he didn’t think I was serious. He believed it was all a joke, a setup or research for a story. Now I had his complete attention after convincing him my question was authentic.
“In order to make an educated decision, I’d need to look at the pictures. Do you think that could be possible?”
“I’m not sure how seeing the photos would help in determining an answer to my question. Besides, all the senders asked me to keep them private and not share them.”
“How many photos exactly have you received? Are the women totally naked, and can you see their faces?”
“I guess close to twenty five, including the three photos of men.”
“Were there suggestive messages with the photos? Also, are you sure they were sent in response to your writing? Are you on some type of dating site?”
“Yes, some included sexual messages. Most mentioned my poems and I’m not on a dating site. So, what do you think?”
“I rarely receive more than fifteen comments on my poems when I post them,” he said with a sarcastic tone. “So I’m going to conclude yes, it does have a relevance in determining your success as a writer. Although, the most viable explanation is that your poems appeal to a unique audience of sick, twisted and perverted readers.”
The phone hummed a dial tone without a goodbye.
And I thought, why did he say that like it’s a bad thing?