To Lose Sight of the Shore
French author and Nobel Prize winner André Gide once famously said, “one does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time”.
I came across that quote approximately seven months ago and it settled into my chest like a branding iron… or a sleeping cat. Either way, it was hard to breathe.
I spent a lot of time wondering how often I’d set sail for new destinations and how often I’d splashed along the shoreline, pretending that I’d set sail. I spent a lot of time looking at previous posts I’d written in various venues and came to hate all but a few, for which I reserved a special kind of loathing only writers and Catholics know about. And I spent a lot of time asking myself just what the hell I thought I was doing.
At the end of that period of time, I resolved to be a less shitty writer/blogger and set out in search of this fish we call: talent. And in order to do that, I argued, I was in need of new beginnings.
Coates Bateman and True/Slant offered one such beginning. They gave me a home and some pay and more than a little encouragement. In the stark wilderness that is the Internet, a smart wayfarer does well not to dismiss the discovery of an outpost like True/Slant. You only find so many rivers in the course of your travels, you know?
Many of the outgoing contributors to this site have asked what True/Slant’s legacy will be or for what it will be remembered or what the lessons we ought to take from its near year and a half life are. I don’t know the answers to those questions. Any website that involves more than two hundred people is bound to be sort of like an electron: it depends how and when you look at it.
But the highest common denominator is what I personally think the legacy/remembrance/lesson that is/was True/Slant should be.
The explicit idea behind this site was that if you engage quality writers, give them some space, and let them do their thing, they will generate quality content. The bet that Lewis Dvorkin, Coates Bateman, Michael Roston and the rest of the True/Slant team made was that people would respond to that quality.
They were right.
Left to our own devices, we — all of us — tended towards the highest common denominator, not the lowest. In a sea of free pornography and moronic You Tube comments, that fact is a subtle miracle all its own. It is a real and tangible reason to hold out a thumbnail of hope. And it repudiates much of what we hear and are told about ourselves on an almost continual basis.
That is ultimately what I will take away from my short experience at True/Slant. That new lands are possible, but it takes work. When you set sail, you have to mean it. And when you lose sight of the shore, you’ve only really just started.
So, if after today you want to find me, you’ll know where to look. I’m right beside you, still trying to work up the courage to set sail.