This About page is now all wrong. But I liked writing it so I’m keeping it.

I’m Andrew Wickliffe. You may have read my quote in a 1999 issue of “Entertainment Weekly.” My one publication. And it’s a shameful one.

When I started Summing Up, I had a few intentions. I wanted to get into longer post writing, which has worked. I wanted to get into the habit of writing daily, which hasn’t worked. I wanted to be able to put something out at the end of the first year of Summing Up in print, equaling the length of Maugham’s The Summing Up. That idea flopped early. Lots of things flopped since Summing Up started. Like, you know, the world. The fucking Nazis might still win. And Chris Evans is fine as Captain America and all, but he cashes a check working with some incredibly problematic people. Captain America he ain’t.

I personally like the idea of Jeff Goldblum as real life world saver more. If you aren’t going to having superheroes, at least have Jeff Goldblum.

In other words, the world get too serious to think about W. Somerset Maugham for a year. Maugham and Me wasn’t going to happen, which is probably good because I think I’ve overestimated the reluctant Maugham enthusiast. He’s a guilty pleasure–with some significant not-guilty ones, but “stanning” his work is questionable. Maugham’s not a serious writer. He’s an often over-serious author, but he’s not a writer. He’s kind of a writer because he’s a snot about things, but he’s more an author. His craft isn’t in the ingestion but the digestion. Except when it’s the other way around. He’s also got a fantastic ego.

I’ve always assumed Ed Burns was my genial problematic fave. But I think it’s Maugham. And he’s only genial because he was long dead before I was even born. I’m sure he’s real problematic.

So long story short–too late (RIP Madeline Kahn)–Summing Up has been floundering. Until now. Now I have a bold new vision of the blog as a weekly post with a 650 word minimum. No idea what the content is going to be. But it’ll be weekly, 650 words at least.

“This is not an autobiography nor is it a book of recollections.”

W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938

Until you actually get into The Summing Up and it is a bit of autobiography and recollection. Not sure where else it goes, I’m still working on it.

Back in undergrad, my best friend and I would exchange short stories to read. I don’t know if we had tried doing the shared writing space thing since high school—and maybe early in high school. Lots of writers like writing together. It makes you work. But we never exchanged personal essays, if they were such a thing in that far flung past. Small college writing department, when did undergrad writing students attempt them as their primary medium. When I got to MFA school, I went in thinking it was Fiction and Poetry. Turns out it was more like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Plays, Screenplays, everything but comic books. Though I did know a guy who wasn’t getting his MFA in Writing but would sit in on our classes and he wanted to do a comic book. I wrote a TV episode once as a gag. “Cheers.”

But no personal essay. I don’t like it. You’re not creating a reality, you’re adapting it to someone’s existing one. That darned reader. They exist far more in the personal essay than they do in fiction. Fiction’s indifferent to them. Usually. With some great and terrible exceptions. A great one is that one Vonnegut with the chase scene.

Breakfast of Champions.

Even before undergrad, I liked W. Somerset Maugham. I’d discovered The Razor’s Edge back sometime after my first failed year of undergrad (pre-story exchanging, pre-lots of things). The movie, then the book. A guy I worked with loved the book. We barely agreed on anything—books, movies, music—but we agreed on Razor’s Edge.

Over the years I read more. Maugham gets into a lot of intellectual readers’ hands at one point or another. Or at least he did. No idea what the kids today do, though I swear I knew an undergrad who’d read him. Though I knew her years ago. I can’t keep up. I don’t really, you know, read a lot anymore.

While my friends had read some Maugham, they didn’t really dig him as much as I did. It’s been ages since I’ve read Razor’s Edge—I don’t think since the first time, actually—and it took me forever to get through Of Human Bondage but Moon and Sixpence is amazing. And I’ve read some of the short stories and so on. I always liked how Maugham was popular and pop culture back in the forties. There’s a line in Shadow of the Thin Man referencing Maugham. As a kid, it got me curious. Though not enough to track down Razor’s Edge. AMC did me that favor, I think. Leave Her to Heaven and Razor’s Edge double feature.

After I’d seen Leave Her to Heaven, I wondered how anyone would’ve intentionally casted Cornel Wilde. After Razor’s Edge, which aired later in the night, I wondered if Maugham’s book really did everything the movie did, because the movie does so much. So I tracked down the book, read it loved it, started hunting up Maugham books in used book shops. Back when spending a day going from used book store to used book store was the thing to do.

This book must be egotistic. It is about certain subjects that are important to me and it is about myself because I can only treat of these subjects as they have affected me.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938

Every blog should be forced to open with that quote. You get a free blog but that quote has to be in the header.

I’ve not yet read The Summing Up. I have started it. It’s not a long book, but I’m a lazy reader. Summing Up, this blog, is not just about The Summing Up. Some of it will be. Except wonderful quotes and imagine Herbert Marshall saying them. And if you can imagine such a thing, try to imagine Clifton Webb saying all of the rest of the text, my text. Not many people sound like Clifton Webb, but—and you can listen to any of my podcasts—my voice isn’t in the same dimension. You could imagine it being read in Montgomery Clift’s voice, that one would be fine. But not Orson Welles. Not even Joseph Cotten.

Maybe Michael Murphy. Maybe.

Summing Up, the blog, will have at least four posts a day. Each post will run between sixty-five and 145 words. They will relate to one another as anything written in the same day relate to one another. Or they will relate to each other more. It’ll be a mystery.

And there will be commentary about The Summing Up, the book. Starting from the beginning. Lots of awesome Maugham quotes. I just need a paper copy of it first. I can’t do the ebook thing. I thought I could, but I can’t. Maugham means strange edition, yellow pages, musty smell.

In this book I am going to try to sort out my thoughts on the subjects that have chiefly interested me during the course of my life.

W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938

I’ve wanted to do a micro-blog for years. Various platforms have come and gone. I remember a really cool one with a yellow background. It didn’t last. Tumblr lasted. I don’t like Tumblr.

Feel free to click through to posts, but there’s nothing extra. Everything’s on the front page. If I could afford the self-hosted WordPress headache and expense, I’d turn off clicking through. Read the page, let the eye wander, follow the columns, follow the rows. I wish I could set it to zoom out to do a mega-view. Maybe I’ll Photoshop it somehow.

And to the reader. Thanks for giving this a shot. I won’t forget you’re there.