Quoting Montaigne

I am very ignorant about what I am. I marvel at the assurance and confidence people have of themselves—while there is hardly anything I know for sure and that I could guarantee being able to do. I do not possess a checklist of my abilities; I learn about them only after they have done their job.

No matter how many times I go over my own writings, rather than please me they disappoint and irritate me. I always have an idea in my mind, a fuzzy image, of a far better expression than the one I used, but, like in a dream, I can neither grasp nor develop it.

I know how neither please, delight, nor titillate the best tale in the world dries up in my hands and drones on. I know only how to talk seriously. I am quite devoid of that facility, which I see in several of my acquaintances, to chat away with every newcomer, keep an audience on the edge of its seats, or engage a prince on all outs of topics without boring him.

From Essays, as quoted in The Art of Solitude by Stephen Batchelor

Montaigne is a great example of how someone who isn’t a natural storyteller, isn’t a born self-promoter, or a raging extrovert can, through careful introspection and honest self-appraisal, resonate with so many people for so long.

I find that in most of my writing I studiously avoid including “me” and instead write about “stuff” I’m interested in. Maybe revisiting Montaigne will change that.

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