The barely visible author

bazille mericJean-Frédéric Bazille, The Terrace at Méric (Oleander) 1867 Oil on canvas, Art Museum, Cincinnati. Image source: WGA


I like being invisible. I reject the meek life of a wannabee. I don’t want to spend a life in waiting for a dish that might never come, or that I’ll have to send back when it’s served cold.

I’d rather be a successful fraud than a failed tryer. Chameleons are the best of nature’s artists. If people don’t understand or like what you’re saying, change colour to communicate the same thing.


Anna Ancher Sunlight in the Blue Room. Helga Ancher Knitting in her Grandmother’s Room 1891
Oil on canvas, Skagens Museum, Skagen. Image: WGA

As I write to please myself by following trains of thought to their derailment, reaching success station was never likely. After so long in the sidings, I started missing other people, even the voice saying “Eh? What did you say?” or “That’s stupid”.

I don’t think effort and/or self-belief are substitutes for talent and finishing skills. If something’s not working, shut it down. A hundred new beginnings are worth more than one bad ending.

lazinessRamon Casas i Carbó Laziness 1898-1900 Oil on canvas, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona.
Image: WGA

Rosalind was joking when she said good wine needs no bush. If truth is essential to good (as distinct from popular) writing, the possibility of being neither good nor popular should not be discounted.

Writers, artists, and actors have a professional duty to hold the mirror up to nature, not to reflect ourselves fumbling to hold the mirror up in the right position, in the right light, on the right day.

madameinthemirrordegasDegas Madame Jeantaud in the Mirror 1875 Oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Image: WGA

The selfie is the death mask of self-criticism.

While we were mesmerized by our own reflections, we slipped into akrasia. We have lost self-command and feel justified by proof of existence alone.

I work in anti-social media.


hammershoiVilhelm Hammershøi Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor, 1901.
Image: SMK

6 comments on “The barely visible author

  1. […] too much self-reflection. The more often they looked, the less clearly they saw themselves.“ Noelle Mackay, All the Rest […]


  2. PJR says:

    And there are writers who spend years striving to craft the naturalistic, truthful effects of Adrienne’s cousin’s journal…..I don’t think Noelle Mackay objects to self-portraits – they are an essential part of all portraiture, aren’t they? probably? written, acted or painted – you’ve gotta know yourself to know other people? – just the contemporary selfie which is a substitute for self-examination, a synthetic self-awareness. I’m glad Adrienne thinks selfies are awful, too. Are they more about impressing other people, or re-enforcing self-worth, and believing everything one does and feels is justified by posting it? A moral – and artistic- monitor – is being eliminated along the way?


  3. Selfies are awful but honesty even badly written interests me. I think Eric’s question is a good one: “aren’t I a part of nature?” Stumbling upon a journal from another time by an unpublished relative of mine made my heart race even though he wrote mostly the same thing each day: Today I cut wood, Today I cut wood. Today I cut wood. On the one day in the entire journal he said something different was on the day his child was born. Today I cut wood. My son was born.

    Now if we’re going for greatness (I’ve made my peace on this one) then talent is very important, but since we can’t produce talent only use it as a gift as writers we’re kind of stuck aren’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. She knows whereof she speaks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. erickeyswriter says:

    “Writers, artists, and actors have a professional duty to hold the mirror up to nature, not to reflect ourselves fumbling to hold the mirror up in the right position, in the right light, on the right day.”

    A very convicting remark. Makes me want to go back through my own small corpus and see how much I’ve tried to reveal the world to people rather than just my own petty concerns and struggles. But, at the same time, aren’t I part of nature? Or is that just a rationalization for self-obsession?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. beetleypete says:

    She has given this a lot of thought, and it shows in her writing. I love that story.
    As ever, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

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