Search
  • Waterhole Branch

Souls for Sale: Dingleberries on the Derriere of Art

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

By Suzanne Hudson

Image (above): Authors Sonny Brewer, Joe Formichella, and author/publisher Joe Taylor (Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama) at Waterhole Branch Productions


It’s been over a year ago that I submitted an essay to an anthology for publication. I poured my heart and soul into it, pored over and picked at the scab of it until it oozed literary merit, was so damn proud of the work. Nope, “they” said, the deciders, the chosen ones, the powers that be. It’s too angry, “they” said, has nothing to contribute, too negative. My skin is thick, so it only took about one breath to realize how right “they” were. I was freakin’ piiiiiissed! I revised, re-submitted, and am honored to have been included in Southern Writers on Writing, edited by Susan Cushman and available in May.


It had been only a couple of years before said submission that I soured on the world of publishing and had held that anger so close it had tainted my feeble pen scratches, those weak attempts at my art. Repeatedly. Looking back, I’m amazed that it took me over a decade to see in publishing what I saw so clearly in other areas, like music, film, visual arts: that the business model, mostly in the last half of the 20th century, had so infected the creative world that the Bottom Line was the ultimate standard for what passed as quality. Musicians and authors were pre-packaged in pop-world cynicism, with publicists barking orders like carney hawkers, with book store turf likely staked out by the passage of bills under tabletops. Moreover, there were folks up close and personal with me who were perfectly willing to sell out, scrap their souls, divorce themselves from all decency in order to maybe have a shot at a bestseller, a taste of fame, or, the Holiest of all Holies, a film deal. Maybe I was naive, that lovely euphemism for “stupid.” Or, I hope, maybe I was so trusting in the kindness of friends and strangers that I could not fathom that they would betray me. But appeals to the ego can gain a decided edge over one’s core values and good, common sense. I should know.


My ego was seduced like a sailor on weekend liberty. “Hey, baby,” whispered by a streetwalker as she crooks her finger. While my gut screamed at me, I followed the shiny object dangling in front of me. So damn pretty. I really want that thing, whatever it may be. And I rationalized, denied, equivocated, and justified my conscience into a bad habit. Ultimately, of course, it all turned out to be a con, a deception, a fool-making moment for me, stripped of gut-function, for all to see as a shallow, self-centered attention-whore. Mea culpa.


I’ve always had an issue with the profit motive, am fond of saying that no one gets into this game--into any form of art--for money. There’s a reason the word “starving” goes in front of the word “artist.” And those who do make “good,” make fame and money, realize, if they are honest with themselves and not sold over to sorry ego, that they have hit the lotto. They KNOW, they really do, that there are better artists, writers, musicians, out there. Better movies than award-winners. Better everythings. But when those mad middle men get in line, with their promises and their publicists, with their willingness to snap up as many souls as they can afford, it tends to work a strange, dark magic on most of us mortals. And many of us let our souls be taken in, in the style of a smarmy ho.


Now to the 21st century, which, in its first couple of decades has turned the old model on its head, where we can, as Joe says, cut out “the mad middle men.” Buh-bye. We’ll go over here and do it ourselves, thank you very much. (But not you, Joe Taylor. We’ll never cut you out. You get it. You’re in on the joke. Witness the Livingston Press jester.) Buh-bye. Smell ya later. We’ll just go over here now, and make some magic.


And that is what we do here at Waterhole Branch--bring artists, writers, musicians, artisans, and others together to collaborate, in an honest, independent way, without the spirit-dragging blood suckers attached. And we’re refining the nonprofit to support residencies, bringing creativity to come and stay a while. Buh-bye to the parasites of the business world, who bring personal agendas, greed, and their own kind of stupidity to the mix. They are but dingleberries, shiny, tar-colored, shattened detritus that clings to the arses of all things with potential profitability, co-opting the arts, stealing others’ ideas to file away like old-time Dewey Decimal cards in a wooden library file drawer, and swallowing up creative properties for their own self-enrichment and aggrandizement. We had berries, that dingle-dangle-dingled. Buh-bye, bye, bye.


7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All