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The lead columnist at IntellectualConservative.com, who has been with us since we started, announces his pending plans to retire from writing.
I have always written, except for that block of years during my late teens in which alcohol and females proved themselves much more entertaining. (Come to think of it, alcohol has always been more entertaining; females lost all entertainment value years ago.) At age eight, it was twelve page scripts for movies I hoped to make; at twelve, it was ghost stories; at fifteen, it was whatever passed for satire; at twenty, it was commentary at book length; at twenty-four it was column writing, first for a weekly paper and then for a variety of Internet sites; three weeks from now, work will begin on a new book; and next August twenty-seventh will mark the tenth anniversary of my modern, relevant writing career. But six weeks from now, a pivotal, even numbered birthday will descend, and the occasion has caused the mind to wander in directions other than opinion-giving, in the interest of the rest of my life.
Writers want nothing more than to be remembered for their most profound work, and in turn spend their entire lives trying to outdo themselves, in search of the inspiration that will deliver the most profound work they can manage. It is truly the silliest thing imaginable, yet Mankind positively overflows with writers, all of varying degrees of talent, all convinced they have something unique to say, all believing they should be heard if only they could reach the people. If there exists in the world a collection of un-unionized egomaniacs with numbers greater than those of writers of no consequence, they have yet to show themselves. And yet they all believe, to the man, they are the exception, and that the world would embrace them if only it would take the time to read.
In the weeks preceding the launch of the In Dissent column, its home web site posted this: “If you like William F. Buckley, Jr. you’ll love Brian S. Wise.” On a separate occasion, that site’s editor told me I was the Buckley of the 21st century. Each time I was flattered, but each time I thought, Now wait a minute, that cannot possibly be the case … can it? It’s the uncertainty that sits in the back of each writer’s mind; “I would stop this nonsense, but what if?” The writer is not like the athlete, who by the time he reaches my age can honestly say, “If I haven’t made it before now, I’m not going to make it” and go on with the rest of his life. In that writing is purely an intellectual exercise, and in that one thinks better as he grows older, there is never an expiration date on a writer’s potential, lest some disease of the mind grip him.
So when I say, and I have lately, that if I were meant to be a successful writer (defined here as merely being able to write for a living) it would have happened before now, well, it’s not necessarily true, because whatever stands around the next corner cannot possibly be known. What can be known is this: I’m tired of waiting, even more tired of trying, and need to get on with the rest of my life, not unlike the failed athlete. And so, I am doing just that.
Next August twenty-seventh, the last of my regular columns will be released; that date because I am enough of a sentimentalist to want to go out on an eventful, even number. In the subsequent months, equal attention and energies will be dedicated to both the regular column and the new book, and consistent efforts will be made toward the end of writing for a living. Should those efforts prove successful, then clearly there is a reason to carry on. On the other hand, should those efforts continue to prove unsuccessful, I have the utmost confidence that an unwise decision has not been made.