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My roommate gave this to me today. My entire Salinger collection was lost in the last move, and this was a fantastic gift.

I don’t have to see
What’s ahead of me
Let’s just take our time
And Shine

Sara Niemietz
W.G. Snuffy Walden

A friend of mine told me once that she would rather be 9 people’s favorite thing than 100 people’s 9th favorite thing. I took the words to heart because she was an artist whose work I admire and respect. I don’t believe she was the first to say it. I believe she even said she was quoting someone. But, regardless of the original author, the words helped to reshape the way I see Art, in general. Or, perhaps a better way to say it would be that she sharpened my view of it.

Salinger said the same thing. It’s about the Perils of Mediocrity.

“I’d swear to God, if I were a piano player or an actor or something and all those dopes thought I was terrific, I’d hate it. I wouldn’t even want them to clap for me. People always clap for the wrong things. If I were a piano player, I’d play it in the goddamn closet.”

Holden Caulfield

I secretly write for an audience of, perhaps, 9 people. The opinions of the rest of the world mean little to me. That said, please don’t make the assumption that because we don’t know each other you’re not on that list. More than one of the people on my list is someone of whose existence I am entirely unaware.

The others are friends of mine, and they have no idea they are on The List. I can’t tell them. It would miss the point if I let them know that when they click “Like,” or even better, make a comment on something I’ve written, I experience Joy. If it’s only to be nice to me, it loses its meaning. It’s the idea that who I am has connected to these people in a way that moves them deeply enough for them to have felt the desire to respond in some way; that feels good. I am all but a hermit. Social situations scare the hell out of me. What I enjoy most is the connection of minds, or, perhaps, for lack of a better term, souls. For a few moments we are sharing our thoughts.

People are like music for me. Each piece of music creates its own unique feeling. And I keep a large music collection because there are some days when I need to feel what Mozart brings, and there are others when I need Chicago.

Friends are songs in my collection. Sadly, I can’t just have them at the moment I feel like they’re what I need. So, I have music to do what friends can do. This week it’s been almost exclusively the new Sara Niemietz album. I just got it, and it helps me write. At the end, she reminds me to Shine. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Some of you make me smile. Some of you are people whose opinions and ideas I respect deeply. Some of you make me want to write. And one of you is the most important reason for me to write. All of you, however, to a greater or lesser extent, make me want to Shine. I can enjoy as many different people as I can pieces of music. But, like music, I need more of some and less of others.

I have accepted, and even learned to celebrate, that my Art will never be popular. But, if I can join raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens on the lists of 9 people, I feel like I have done all I could hope.

To those of you who take the time to read my words, I offer my sincere gratitude. It matters more than you probably think.