Success: Deserve Has Nothing to Do With It

“It’s fashionable now to object on principle to the idea that writing is hard. Writing isn’t hard, this camp says; working in coal mines is hard. Having a baby is hard. But this is a category error. Writing isn’t hard the way physical labor, or recovery from surgery, is hard; it’s hard the way math or physics is hard, the way chess is hard. What’s hard about art is getting any good—and then getting better. What’s hard is solving problems with infinite solutions and your finite brain.

….The thing about success, good fortune, and maybe even happiness is this: You can see that there are people who “deserve” whatever you have as much as you do but have less, as well as people who “deserve” it less or equally and have more. So, at the same time, you want more and feel you don’t deserve what you have. It’s a source of anxiety, guilt, and resentment and troubles the very idea of what one “deserves.” In the end I believe you don’t deserve anything; you get what you get.”

-Elisa Gabbert, “Why Write?The Paris Review. July 6, 2022

A number of nice nuggets in this piece. The second paragraph reminded me of that scene from The Unforgiven.

3 thoughts on “Success: Deserve Has Nothing to Do With It

  1. Thank you for this…”you get what you get” this morning came across a piece and in the middle there was a bit about intention. “The intention is there you say. The intention is there.
    The intention is there because intention can always be defined as pure, without the filth of words and feelings and the mess of reality”

    I woke up this morning with the intention to write the words and feelings rotating in my head down but the mess of reality intervened. You get what you get.

    1. I’ve always had mixed feelings about intention. On one hand, intention drives action. Without intention, nothing gets done. But, on the other hand, there are people that believe intention is all that matters.

      I tend to take the opposite view. Intention matters, in so far as it gets the ball rolling. But, results matter more. Our intention invariably gets subverted. What then? Has our vision, desire or what have you been sullied? Or, is it as Leonard Cohen phrased it:

      “Ring the bells that still can ring
      Forget your perfect offering
      There is a crack, a crack in everything
      That’s how the light gets in.”

      1. Strangely enough that particular phrase from Leonard and a story of how some american south western tribes when they are weaving a blanket ‘intentionally’ put in a fault in order for the spirit of the weaving to be released have been in my thoughts this morning. The proverbial crack. My poem/ writing that is still brewing as I garden is about something an honoured mentor said the other day that has me pondering….he pointed out something I had said, he smiled and said well, that sounds a bit judgemental, I had to agree. Later he sent me a quote from Jung “lower our pretentious a little, and instead of striving after the ideal of perfection to content ourselves with te more accessible goal of approximate completeness. Approximate completeness…..that feels like a doable goal, hence my thinking this morning of Leonard’s song and the First Nations fault. 🙂

Comments are closed.