I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing. Writing on the blog, writing at work, writing a book or two. And one of the things that has been eating at me as I felt these writerly urgings is the predominance of self-help books in the world and on *-seller lists.
Everyone seems to have a lesson to teach these days. Everyone seems to want lessons. I think it is a symptom of the troubling times we live in, not to mention the mixing of work and life to a degree that everything becomes “investment” rather than sometimes being just for fun, or a good scare, or whatever motive one might have for reading other than self-improvement. The fact that so many deem themselves fit to teach suggests our collective self-critical faculties are shaky, or shaken by the deeply fucked up times.
Then I ran across this in the newly released Authoritative and Complete Autobiography of Mark Twain (first volume — two more are coming):
That’s all I want. I only want to interest the reader, he can go elsewhere for profit & instruction
I can afford to take a lesson from Twain and concentrate on keeping your interest instead of improving you. I’ve never had any expectations that you be better than other folks, so sit back and enjoy. I’m going to let the writing muscles stretch a bit….