Let me just say a bit more about why I’m doing this Buy Me a Dragon thing. My thinking can be condensed into three simple points.
First: I’ve never been able to get published the things I am most interested in writing. I do not blame editors for this – they are professionally required to think of what won’t lose money, or what fits with their periodical’s mission and purpose, or what the people above them in the hierarchy will tolerate. And look, I’m a pro at this game – I have rarely even asked editors to publish my less marketable thoughts. I have trimmed my sails appropriately in advance. (Though I remember with great delight the rare exceptions – for instance, when John Wilson warmly agreed to let me write a 30th-anniversary essay on Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos. That was a red-letter day for me.) But…
Second: I have been thinking a lot about this from the English novelist M. John Harrison: “The idea you have when you’re young, to reach the edge of what can be done with your abilities and find out what might happen if you went past it? You promise yourself you’ll try but then wake up fifty years later to discover that you were in fact always too sensible to push things until they fell over, in case people thought less of you. In your seventies, though, it doesn’t seem to matter any more what other people think. That’s probably the first phase of your life in which you can actually do what you want. And certainly the last.” I’m still several years from my seventies … but I’m ready to be in that frame of mind now. And this blog may be the only venue where such exploration — as Eliot said, “Old men ought to be explorers” — is possible for me.
Third: I have been genuinely moved by the messages I received from people when I suspended this blog last month, and by what they have written on my Buy Me a Coffee page. I had no idea that this blog meant anything to more than a dozen people. This recent encouragement has given me heart to resume my writing here – after a period in which I felt it was a completely pointless activity.
So that, in sum, is why I’m here. Buy Me a Coffee allows me to continue this work that’s meaningful to me without feeling that I’m losing money. It allows me to get paid — some, anyway — for what I really really want (and on some level need) to write. And that’s a wonderful feeling. So massive thanks to all who have supported me in this endeavor.