The Brownline

It’s funny, how people assume you’re good at something because you do it for a living. I could be a shit writer, the worst one alive. You don’t know. Nobody knows, apart from my boss, and he might just think I’m good. He might not know better.

I’ve just spent my morning reading a friend’s manuscript. He’s querying agents, and wants to be sure he’s not sending them trash. (He’s not. He’s so not. He’s an excellent writer. But I could be anyone. I could be full of shit. People can be that way without even knowing. Take me, for example, when I was an artist. I wrote this tutorial on colour, only I was colourblind, and I had no idea. I got the theory across, but my example was brown. It was all brown. It didn’t work at all.)

My generous friend thinks I won’t brownline his book. But maybe I will. I might brownline all over it. What does he know? All he’s got is my word that I know what sells—and I didn’t say that, even. All I said was I write sci-fi, and that got his trust.

If you’re reading, by the way, don’t think I’m poking fun. Just, maybe find a backup reader, some writer of renown. Someone who shows up on Amazon when you search them by name. (Depending on who you pick, you might still find me. I am a ghostwriter. I haunt all sorts of shelves.)

I find it sort of enchanting, how trusting folks are. You see so much anger, such discord online. But people you’re kind to, even a little, still think the best of you, quite without reason. Maybe that’s not enchanting. Maybe it’s upsetting. Should I worry about my friends taking candy from strangers? Being sucked into cults? I suppose that’s unlikely. We’re all middle-aged. At worst, I’ll brownline them, and they’ll be all “you suck.”

That’s what I’ve been thinking about today, how maybe I’m good and maybe I’m pants, and it’s a mystery for the ages. Here’s a flea with a tail.

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