Dear Ink Servants

Why, you simply don’t understand. . .
I wanted to write an article
an article that well describes you
and your woes
with your crooked pen (may i add that it is worn-out and rusted)
and your dog-eared notebook reminding you that a literary life is for the most part an unhappy life; because, if you have genius, you must suffer the penalty of genius; and, if you have only talent, there are so many cares and worries incidental to the circumstances of men of letters, as to make life exceedingly miserable. See, besides the pangs of composition, and the continuous disappointment which a true artist feels at his inability to reveal himself, there is the ever recurring difficulty of gaining the public ear.

Many at times young writers are buoyed up by the hope and the belief that they have only to throw that poem at the world’s feet to get back in return the laurel-crown; that they have only to push that novel into print to be acknowledged at once as a new light in literature. Ahem! You can never convince a young author that the editors of the magazines and the publishers of books are a practical body of men, who are by no means frantically anxious about placing the best literature before the public. Nay, that for the most part they are mere brokers, who conduct their business on the hardest lines of a Profit and Loss account. But supposing your book fairly launches, dear ink servant, its perils are only beginning. You have to run the gauntlet of the critics, regardless.

See, to a young author, again, this seems to be as terrible ordeal as passing down the files of wounded hounds or angry beasts, each of whom is thirsting for your scalp. When you are a little older, you will find that criticism is not much more serious than the bye-play of clowns in a circus, when they beat around the ring and the victim with bladders slung at the end of long poles. Look, a time comes in the life of every author when he regards critics as comical rather than formidable, and goes his way unheeding. But there are sensitive souls, you see, that yield under the chastisement and, perhaps after suffering much silent torture, abandon the profession of the pen forever. Your mentor, perhaps, is the saddest example of a fine spirit hounded to death by savage criticism; because whatever his/her biographers may aver, that furious attack of societal injustices and penning of issues to touch the hands could not, undoubtedly expedited his/her death. Sorry.

But no doubt there are hundreds who suffer keenly hostile and unscrupulous criticism, and who have to bear that suffering in silence, because it is a cardinal principle in literature that the most unwise thing in the world for an author is to take public notice of criticism in the way of defending himself. . .

For what it is worth
I wanted to write an article
a bitter article better for you,
reminding you that silence is the only safeguard,
as it is the only dignified protest against insult and offence
but my pen is blunt
and the publisher is hesitant. .

Yours truly.


Wendo Kenyanito

Wendo Kenyanito

For hope i live. Not because yesterday was full nor because today is fresh. But because tomorrow is fertile. Hope. For hope i live. And hope does not disappoint me.

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