It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Here, we get together to show support to all our fellow writers and unload our insecurities. To sign up and join, click below.
I've been revisiting A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I would usually skip the forward introductions to all books in my twenties. Now, that I write preludes and forwards to almost every project, I paid more attention when revisiting this old dog eared copy of mine.
The forward is by Walter Percy, the man who 'discovered' the manuscript. In his own words he describes how a lady contacted him with a preposterous proposal. Her son had committed suicide, and she wanted Mr. Percy to read her dead son's manuscript, because she thought it's a great novel.
It wasn't until she stood over him in his office that he read a bit of it, which he wanted badly to be 'bad'. Then he could honestly tell the mother her dead novelist son wrote the heavy manuscript in vain.
Protagonist, Ignatius Reilly is a mad philosopher. A flatulating tortured genius trapped in modern times. Ignatius's lunatic rages and pyloric valve closing adventures continues on as, Dunces is still on the must read book list at all three of the indie bookstores I've worked in. Still, this artist never tasted success.
It's not an uncommon story, and after he was a awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction ten years after his death, Toole's is a famous one. The rejection of Dunces contributed to his suicide.
A friend of mine asked me, "Are writers like show people? Even when all their efforts seems futile, they just can't consider anything else?"
"Yeah, pretty much." Right after answering I thought of my running shoes, and debated on how to transition out of the conversation. Then I remembered a book of mine signed by Chuck Palahnuik who was rejected countless times.
I think this is good advice for all of us.