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Fame at Last

Friday, 22nd June, 2001

I may be nowhere near my million word target yet, but I have reached one level of success at least. I have been quoted.

As Oscar Wilde once said, 'There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.' Behind his wit lies a major truth: there's not much point being a writer if nobody reads what you have written. That fate is exclusively reserved for Booker Prize winners. Also, once you have readers, it is fundamentally important that they then talk about what they read.

This instant validation to your work marks the beginning of the long and rocky slope to acceptance, then stardom and eventually a suitably debauched or romantic suicide, depending on your mood or the expectations of a rampant public and a rabid press. I am now baby stepping my way onto the slope, flushed with the blatant success of being discussed.

Given the sheer unadulterated importance of this, I probably should keep quiet the hopefully unnoticed fact that I was quoted by someone who, in his infinite wisdom, has chosen to call himself 'Negative Prick'. Unfortunately for me, this choice of name is perhaps his most astute move yet, if not his most accurate.

Negative Prick stalks the virtual halls of the Open Diary like a rabid mouse. He is dangerous to those who fear him, as his teeth are sharp and vicious, but easily ignored by those who don't. After all, it doesn't matter how many notes he leaves, as they can all be easily wiped out. Diarists don't even need to search for virtual rodent repellent.

I have yet to psychoanalyse this character to my satisfaction. He is certainly loudmouthed and anonymous, two adjectives that go together so frequently that they should become one. His chosen manifesto is simple. 'I'm here simply to slag your retched lives off and therefore make mine appear better,' he spits. Unfortunately this is far too simple to be anywhere near enough.

Though I haven't followed his footprints everywhere, I've seen enough to realise that he frequently talks fluent common sense. What makes this notably strange is that he does so with such vehemence and vitriol that any noble purpose he may start out with is soon lowered into an abyss of pointlessness. His sweeping generalisations often miss the point entirely, as many of the people he chooses to 'help' are far too complex for him to easily understand.

What fascinates me is the motive behind it all. How can anyone honestly expect to be a positive force in someone's life by being negative? Why would someone so apparently negative even entertain such a positive and philanthropic notion? There are mysteries here that may never become clear.

I've seen his name daubed here and there like the urinary graffiti of a cat marking its boundaries. I hadn't paid it much attention, as there are plenty of idiots loose in Open Diary, and his points were often good ones. Soon, however, the wall he chose to daub belonged to VenusDiablo, a voice of stunning clarity, depth and vision; someone whose talent I have admired with awe for some time. His words were harsh and unfair, but couldn't be ignored, for they carried a grain of heartfelt truth.

And so began my interest. I've never seen praise veiled in insult before. I'd never seen anyone epitomise paradox so obviously. He acknowledged her talent in the form of abuse; then promptly washed his hands of her, thus removing such talent from his sight. In contrast, I found that once I'd read her words, there grew in me a compulsion to read more. Her prose is intoxicatingly sweet, even when steeped in bitterness. It is certainly an acquired taste, but one for the gourmet.

Yet, in such polar opposites of phraseology, we were saying the same thing. That took me aback.

Negative Prick suggests that she is wasting her talent on such a few regular readers in an online diary. I also feel that she deserves a much wider audience, but don't accept that her work is wasted.

I see words cascading from the fountain of her pen through the near future of literature. I believe that her voice will echo in the halls of the praised. I have gently implied as much, just as Negative Prick has screamed it, but I feel that the time is not yet right.

She is working her writer's apprenticeship in Open Diary, just as I am learning my trade. When we are ready we will venture out onto the path of publication and find our way amidst the chaos of the industry. I feel that we each have a foot on that path already. Time alone will decree when we can join it with the other and begin our journey.

This much I've picked up from my reading, but more I can't say. Every slice of poetry, every dish of prose opens a window and offers a glimpse into the world of the writer behind it, but a writer's house has a thousand windows and all offer different glimpses. I can see facets of VenusDiablo with crystal clarity, but I realise that they are but a fraction of the complete gem and I have no conception of its full glory.

And here is where he quotes me. He takes my premise and pours scorn on it, rather than fashion reasoned argument. It isn't his style, which I can acknowledge, but there are glimmers of rational debate in his words, which tease and tantalise. I hoped that he would wax lucid and satisfy my curiosity as to his modus operandi. Unfortunately not.

Negative Prick just doesn't agree. Effectively, he suggests that one jigsaw piece is equal to the full puzzle. If he truly believes this, then I can understand where his negativity comes from. He hopes that there is beauty in the world, but he cannot see it. He can merely see its promise and it flusters him. Maybe if he cannot create anything of worth himself, then he feels a need to create by proxy, to claim credit for pushing someone else's talent into the limelight. Altruism can be a two-faced benefactor.

I wonder how long I can debate someone who refuses to debate. It's well within the bounds of possibility that he refuses to let his real self spill out onto the page for fear of being classified. Right now he knows that nobody has him accurately pegged. He's happy as an enigma, and joyous in his mixed publicity. After all publicity is good publicity.

Have some more, sir.

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