Forum / On Publishing

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    David Ackley
    Aug 07, 04:37pm

    A previous thread on the anthology I recently came across and bought, NEW MICRO Exceptionally Short Fiction, and the responses in the thread has kicked into partial focus some thoughts on publishing in general at the present moment.

    First, it seems clear that the traditional model of publishing that we may carry around in our heads of wise curating editors and paternalistic institutions like Houghton Miflin and The Atlantic have crumbled in the face of the international conglomeratization of publishing in general. A novel, story or poetry collection that has any 'literary' aspirations has little chance of making it through the commodity maze to publication, and still less chance of commercial success. Accordingly, forget making a living as an author; invest your hopes in lottery tickets: the odds are better. This is all well-known, but I begin with it as a reminder, since otherwise intelligent people I know, with books to peddle, still are investing their hopes in this dead system.

    For my own part, I still see a vestigial belief in the system( which is essentially, I would argue, a dead hierarchy) in the way I will send out stories to 'quality' literary magazines , where presumably , those wise curators of the past have gone to live out their days in a kind of benign, ineffectual dusty obscurity, presumably fostering literary aspirants who think ( as I have) that pubishing in say AGNI or The New England Review would actually mean something by way of say, critical attention to one's work, or a more elevated audience( whatever the fuck that might mean.) It's probably a harmless delusion, a further way of 'eating the air, promise-crammed,' except for the fact that I see good writers doubting the value of their work because of an failure to 'break through,' even into print.

    It's easy to say that rejection is an inevitable part of a writer's existence, but fairly hard to continue under it as a constant response. And I'm not sure that anyone benefits from the interposition of editors as curators in the present climate where determinations of quality are purely functions of taste, however it might be tarted up with 'aesthetic values,' or some other reified corpse.

    I had/have in mind to go on from here, but I think I'll suspend for the time being and ask for responses from anyone else who has thoughts on what it's like to live as a writer in the present 'climate,' of publishing, which like other such seems to itself to be changing, or perhaps, who knows, in a kind of crisis.

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    strannikov
    Aug 07, 07:27pm

    David: Renewed thanks for posing these questions and concerns.

    In no way, shape, or form that I can discern has our insidious, invidious Internet shown itself a close, caring friend of fiction in any form, of verse and poetry, of functional criticism, of drama or farce, and I would say it has shown itself a determined enemy of satire.

    Finding any welcoming niche online (as I and many have found Fictionaut to be overall as an online showcase) always feels something like an accomplishment: but as we hear from others or know for ourselves, for writers of any kind, writers of all kinds, posting anything online or more formally getting published online often enough is an indulgence in self-marginalization.

    We might well remind ourselves what a squirrelly ontological domain the Internet occupies. It is NOT "the real world", only its defective image and its warped mirror. The Internet can thus aspire to no more than a "deficient ontology": and because "virtual reality" is not ever "completely real", we earnest practitioners may be entrusting our work to a media environment ontologically incapable of treating the work on its terms, which come down to arrangements of words and their sounds and the meanings they suggest without any necessary assistance from audio/visual prompts and cues.

    Just this week I picked up the Collected Poems of Galway Kinnell and found a stimulating anecdote from his "Biographical Afterword" (by Barbara K. Bristol): in the 1990s (just as the Internet was emerging, I note) GK exchanged poems with Sharon Olds almost every day by fax machine.

    The venerable fax machine might (perhaps possibly maybe) be the technological choice for a REAL alternative to the deficient realities afforded by the Internet.

    Networks of fax exchanges among fictionists, poets, dramatists, essayists, critics "could" become the basis of a rich and thriving system of American samizdat. ("Samizdat" was the Soviet-era, unofficial and underground exchange network of literary work in manuscript form: "sam- + izdat" [self - published].)

    Fax exchanges of original work with trusted correspondents could begin to build ACTUAL communities of writers. Should enough actual communities flourish in time, some new form of offline "critical mass" could begin to pose publishing solutions of its own.

    I very much prefer to regard the Internet, that is, as a transitional technology for writers, and not for very much longer, whatever else we may do.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 08, 12:33am

    Thanks Edward. Not inclined to have this be a binary, agree with this not with that kind of conversation, I am happy to read your contribution and let its ideas perc.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 11, 02:57pm

    In my experience, being a superficially self-abnegating egomaniac, communities of artists (perhaps writers especially) quickly take on characteristics of a hypothetical community of cats. It's quite evident here on our beloved Fictionaut, where a perhaps timid presumption of collegiality keeps our hisses and growls sublimated in passive-aggressive degrees of recognition or non- with corresponding comments rarely reaching beyond the polite, unless with overwrought effusions of adoration for the rare exceptionally magnificent triumph of artistic craftsmanship.

    I have found, here and in reading about famous writers groups of yore, that most wordsmiths, being hypersensitive, self-absorbed, complex personalities, secretly loathe each other, and, to paraphrase the presumably original words of a recent Nobel laureate who played guitar, would rather see each other paralyzed if not outright dead. Thus, I would argue, the urge to have one's precious work reach beyond the parochial bounds of his own kind, to have it read by dogs, zebras and alligators (to carry the ridiculous metaphor forward), which is best done by the marketing wizards with legacy publishing houses hip to what's de rigueur in the passive arbiter of appetite piped into sentient heads, thus enticing their hosts to seek admiring feedback from acquaintances by appearing to read or have read "the book" or "books" behind the series everyone but everyone had to watch in order to be able to speak to with familiarity amongst the madding crowd of whomever.

    So in an attempt to answer what I recall is the original question, yes, I certainly believe we must conntinue to butt our precious, tender, underappreciated heads against the gates of commercial curation no matter how bad might be the breath on the other side.

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    James Lloyd Davis
    Aug 11, 05:26pm

    We... the community of writers are an incomparable lot. Everyone who writes is a writer, acceptance being a matter of innumerable benchmarks beyond the writer's control.
    When I was young, there were protocols that had nothing to do with academic or corporate acceptance and everything to do with seduction. If you could tell an interesting story and in terms of a style most people could digest, you could make a little money... some being able to make a living... some even got rich... and the "market" for writing was huge, because virtually everyone read. They read books, magazines, newspapers... and the institutions that published paid for the content. Writers expected compensation and they got it.
    Today?
    I don't have to describe it to any of you.
    We're fucked.
    But we don't quit because we are writers.
    The actions of writing define us.
    We're still fucked, but hey... we are irrelevant.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 12, 06:43pm

    Each of your arguments opens ways to think about the question(s) of publishing, which mainly seem to be Where, and what are the chances? At least from the submitting writer's perspective.

    I do think that taking "Why write ?" as a given, when the possibilities of publishing in the present day are so unappealing and unavailable, is to risk the despair that follows a purposeless activity that consumes time, energy and thought.

    In the not so distant past, writing was nearly inseparable from notions of communication with a large, interested audience; producing income for the writer, intellectual relevance, reputation, influence, and even occasionally power. Witness Tostoi, who aside from enormous sales worldwide, was referred to as the "other Tsar," in Imperial Russia. Disraeli was both a popular novelist and Prime Minister. People pushed each other off docks jostling for the latest installment of a Dickens serialized novel and revisions in English Poor Laws owed something to his depictions of the hard lives of the lower classes. It is hard to think, I grant you, of an American equivalent.

    I do think it's a fair question to ask at present: Leaving aside publishing, and "because I have to," (No-one's holding a gun to our heads), Why write?

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 13, 11:42am

    The muse. That one person, whether real or imaginary, you believe will get and appreciate what you say. What other reason could there be (leaving aside publishing and "because I have to")?

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 17, 04:26pm

    I used to define success as "get a teaching job." I have a friend who faulted my cover letters as the likely culprit when I didn't land a teaching job.

    So I am impressed when two writers we all have heard of landed publishing deals that allowed them to quit their teaching jobs!

    The hope of a teaching job long behind me, I now set my sights on securing a publishing deal. I have heard recently that I ought to go to major publishers albeit without an agent and that I ought to self-publish.

    I know my opinion of self-publishing. It is that it is a lot of work for little return, maybe even a waste of paper, considering the relative merit of trees.

    The literature needs to be read and to be available to be read. It should not be a vanity excursion. The author needs to wish for the writing to appear as a book that invites to be read. If self-publishing has saved writers much anguish in not having their work in book form, then it is worth it.

    I have paid to play and flown to faraway cities to join in the group belonging of self-publishing writers and some who are on a mount of having publishing contracts and whose fees for services are paid and travel fees waived.

    A hierarchy. But do you compare what you wrote to what the chosen ones wrote? Does it necessarily dim by comparison? Or is it partly based on chance? Are there two groups paid and unpaid? Is that the same as read and unread?

    I have to say that I am no longer much of a reader of books, though I own a lot of books, and I buy books usually once a year. And that I wish I was in the habit of going to the public library.

    I wish I was devouring books, reading for its own sake. I would feel more in the fold of writing and publishing for their own sake. Or for money where there is a way to figure that in.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 17, 09:22pm

    As some of you may recall I'm in the midst of reading <i>The Last Night of the Earth</i>, Charles Bukowski's final collection of fairly spontaneous thoughts arranged in the intentionally much-broken lines of a poet. Having only just now stumbled across this tidbit in a poem called Wandering in the Cage, written near the end of his life, it seemed appropriate to add it to the mix, tho it likely will pinch some of us where it hurts, provoking smirks, eyerolls, off-page snorts, and whatnot (I'm putting the words down as a lump rather than arranging them in Chuck Buk's poetic fragments--not to disrespect him but simply from laziness):

    "on writers: I found out that most of them swam together. There were schools, establishments, theories. Groups gathered and fought each other. There was literary politics. There was game-playing and bitterness. I always thought writing was a solitary profession. Still do…"

    Of course, this doesn't even touch on the root question, as I understand was the prompt for this discussion. Several poems later, in Upon This Time, Bukowski addresses the question itself:

    "Fine then, thunderclaps at midnight, death in the plaza. My shoes need shining. My typewriter is silent. I write this in pen in an old yellow notebook while leaning propped up against the wall behind the bed. Hemingway said, 'it won’t come anymore.' Later— the gun into the mouth. <i>Not writing is not good but trying to write when you can’t is worse</i>. Hey, I have excuses: I have TB and the antibiotics dull the brain. 'You’ll write again,' people assure me, 'you’ll be better than ever.' That’s nice to know. But the typewriter is silent and it looks at me. Meanwhile, every two or three weeks I get a fan letter in the mail telling me that surely I must be the world’s greatest writer. But the typewriter is silent and looks at me…. This is one of the strangest times of my life. I’ve got to do a Lazarus and I can’t even shine my shoes."

    [I wish this forum had a preview option, so I can see if the coding for italics works.]

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    David Ackley
    Aug 18, 04:36pm

    I want you both, Ann and Mathew, to know that I've read both your responses several times and will probably do so again. So there is one provisional answer to the question, which is to find someone to read your work who will take it seriously.

    I liked reading Ann's reply because of, in part, the way she lets your attention fall into and consider the silences, or spaces, between statements. There's a lot going on there in those spaces, or at least so my imagination has occasion to contribute.

    I like the way Mathew opens our conversation to Bukowski--to include him in the conversation--

    but which also in a way is an answer to Ann's unstated question ' Why don't I (Does Anyone?) read anymore? The latter question/ statement posing another complicating factor to 'Why write?'[If there's nobody out there reading?'] I think it's a very good question, since I would automatically exclude from what I understand as
    'reading' (and its purposes) as anything appearing on the NY Times bestseller
    lists-- for which the alternate category of 'consumption' can suffice--leaving who?

    But to go back to "Why write?"

    I became, toward the end of my college days, a lazy student, bent it might have appeared on not finishing. Which happened to be true, since I saw nothing much out there that appealed to or was available to someone who really liked doing anthing but to read and keep reading. I foresaw that the available work was likely to be more alienating than the alternative--whatever that might be.

    A Marxist might say that this is simply the nature of work under capitalism where almost everyone is separated from the product of their endeavor. Be that as it may, there was simply nothing I could see myself doing with any commitment or enthusiasm.

    A friend of mine, a painter, told me much later on( it would have helped earlier) that we are animals who make things. In writing at least, as with painting, sculpture, composing, we are, you might say at one with the product of our work, which you might also say is our self.

    Let me cut to the chase, though

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    David Ackley
    Aug 18, 04:38pm

    Sorry, I meant to delete that last line, but it slipped through.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 19, 12:04pm

    Which brings us back to the explanation you precluded at the start, David, and which several of the contributors here give in their profiles as their raison d'être, "because I have to." I've evolved (some would say devolved) to the category myself, now that I'm retired and have nothing else to do for which I have the aptitude, and without which I would collapse to a barely animated, mumbling wraith on a park bench feeding imaginary squirrels.

    As for recognition, that's one reason I'm here--even if most of the feedback approximates merely the equivalent of a polite or friendly or nod and reciprocates the polite or friendly nod I give their work. Even there, tho, beneath the surface civility one can see what to many serves as the true currency here, those coveted little numbers that can elevate a piece to greater visibility on the "recommended" feed. So even here, David, that competitive "animal" drive to be seen is alive, if not especially "well," in the most basic sense.

    And is it really consensus we seek, that our work appeals to others whose intelligence and sensibility we respect, or is that even possible with a society in which popular consensus can shift willy nilly from one carefully articulated whim to the next thru academia as well as the wider marketplace? If so, is it truly there, the cloistered or commercial markets, for which we ultimately dance, albeit coyly and with the self-abnegation that enables us to retreat into our modest camouflage if we misgauge the value of our presentations? And would this, too, be where our "muse" resides? The one sensibility--real or imagined--without whose validation we feel stranded outside ourselves in an alien tableau?

    I enjoyed a long and relatively satisfying career as a reporter/writer for the slowly dying industry of print journalism. Been retire a little more than a decade now, and write solely for my own pleasure--keeping active, of course, those occasional sidelong peeks at a readership beyond my immediate purview. I've learned, quite happily to minimalize my needs, surviving on Social Security and Medicare without what I consider the current frivolous accouterments--TV, "smart" fone, even wifi (I hijack the neighboring brew pub's fairly reliable signal--shhhhh...)and maintain my physical health by eating carefully and walking 5 miles every morning. I'm divorced, and our three children are grown and thriving (more so than I was at their age). I preserve my illusion of sanity doing what I'm doing at this precise moment, as you preferred in your college days, and, I suspect, still do: reading, more reading, and, ultimately, writing. For me, anything else no longer really matters.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 21, 01:35pm

    I understand "have to," to mean not having a choice or doing something by inner necessity(like eating) or outward compulsion (like gun to head.)

    I don't see that as operating in either of our cases, Mathew, since clearly there is choice. In the case of writing, it is a continuing, not to say perpetual choosing. Do I write today? Do I write or finish this line, the next, this story? etc. I find this one of the wonderful things about it, an activity that exists in a kind of perfect freedom.

    I admire your choosing to write.

    Again I cite Dinesen: I write every day, without hope and without despair.

    I had a belated thought about publishing, at least in print. Maybe the desire to appear in a book or printed magazine, black ink on white paper. With hard covers! Comes from a kind of object envy where we wish somehow a material object with heft,
    something to be held in the hands that in its materiality certifies the value of our work, permanent(relatively, until remaindered and pulped) tangible, with a price! That asserts an equivalent value to that of our more object productive artistic coevals, who produce real objects like paintings and sculptures. When secretly the thought that we deal in ephemera (words, ideas, stories) that are no more than the brain's exhalations dogs us.

    One has to remind onself that even Williams's famous dictum , " No ideas but in things," was itself an idea and a plaintive one at that.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 21, 03:31pm

    I hear ya, David. Hence my "occasional sidelong peeks at a readership beyond my immediate purview," which could be realized, I would grant, by "a material object with heft." As to the "have to" drive, very possibly an obsessive/compulsive disorder, but preferable--for me, anyway--to smoking, drinking, eating, nose picking, etc. To each his own, eh?

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    eamon byrne
    Aug 25, 11:48am

    Friends. Take heart. Good writing is not dead - far from it. Me, I read a lot, in bursts. Nothing to go through a thousand pages in 4 days. I've just finished a Murakami 900 pager which I thought was drivel, and I chastise myself for having got to the end. But that's me. Masochist. But here's the thing. In 30 years of writing I've inked, typed and word processed a total output of .. 900 pages. Does that make me a worse writer than Murakami? No way. On the contrary I now tell myself that I'm a better writer than Murakami. Quality, man. It's down to the quality. I should mention also that I'm a deluded masochist. One thing I've noticed is that most of the writers who seem to have made it started out when they were teenagers. That's right, when they were young and stupid. Me, I'm also stupid, so I share that estimable quality. That gets me half way there. Unfortunately the second half of the theorem is a worry. I'm too old to be "starting out". Starting out at my age doesn't make for rosy prospects in the book writing game. Anyway, my thoughts are that if you're a heavy reader you should also be a light writer. Though you should still revise. That goes without saying. As far as writing goes, I'm definitely one for assiduous revising. Especially the commas. If you can't manage commas you'll never make it as a serious writer. Never mind that a lot of the really heavy serious writers have lately been abandoning commas. Hey, but they started out in their teens.That must be it. Start early. Just think. I coulda been a contenda. Happy days.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 25, 09:31pm

    I seem to remember reading a Beckett work of pages and pages sans comma or in fact any punctuation apart from full stops. It must be catching.

    I agree with you, Eamon, about Murakami, his writing seems to be long stretches of ennui leavened by perfunctory doses of fantasy.

    Speaking of long works of fiction, have you tried Vasily Grossman's WWII novel, LIFE And FATE?

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    eamon byrne
    Aug 26, 12:31am

    I haven't. But I'm adding it to the "must check out" list. Speaking of long books, few would beat William Vollmann. Boy, does he churn them out. And weighty. Doorstoppers. His excuse? Probably that he's the best American writer now working.

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    Chris Okum
    Aug 26, 07:55pm

    Vollman's gonna be the next American to win the Nobel. He might be the last, too.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 26, 09:17pm

    I have read Vollmann, but the one that sticks in mind most vividly is BUTTERFLY STORIES.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 26, 11:01pm

    William T. Vollmann, The Atlas

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 27, 09:24am

    Richard Powers, The Echo Maker

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    eamon byrne
    Aug 27, 10:46am

    I'm in awe of writers who can produce BIG books at a rapid lick and maintain a high standard. That trick always impressed me with Henry James. But your man Vollmann is something else. There is a great video on the tube of him reading from his latest. I gather it's about humanity's bad treatment of the planet. A big theme. V has a black pessimism about the state of global warming. In his view we're all fooked. That is a worry to me more than the CO2 level, because V is someone whose judgement call I respect. On hardly a less sanguine but equally freaky note is the Portuguese writer Antunes. This guy is a fricking metaphor machine of the first water. Translators are having no success at all in keeping up with this man's output. Forests outside Lisbon are being detreed to feed his rampant imagination. I sampled some of his on Amazon several months back and, bang, there went a hundred bucks! The paperback of one, Fado Alexandrino, was so fat and full of small print that it threatened to fall apart after five days of me just sitting there looking at it. Then I took the plunge and started reading. Damn, if I knew it would be so good I'd have bought the hardcover. Speaking of hardcovers, and back to Vollmann, the hardcover of Dying Grass is a masterpiece of the bookbinder's and book designer's arts. All 1356 pages of it. So much respect, nay love, has been lavished on this book, it's quite extraordinary. Really showcases the superiority of the printed word over "e".

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    David Ackley
    Aug 27, 12:54pm

    What was it Henry James called Tolstoi's great novels for their length and multiplicity? Boggy Monsters? Something like that. Was it length envy--in the non-Freudian sense, of course?

    But in the end, for me, Chekhov wins. Brevity beats length, I think. I like the feeling that every word counts, and I think collectively, Chekhov's multiplicity of subject, story on story provides a wider sense of people, Russia, and the possibilities of art, than Tolstoi's great novels. The world lost a great short story writer when Joyce turned to novels and some have argued that his twenty four hour novel is a stylistically padded short story--a radical perspective, admittedly.

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 27, 03:26pm

    Dostoevsky did both, rather well, I should say. And he takes us deeper into the dark corners of the soul than Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Lermontov, Ilf, Petrov, Pasternak, and Solzhenitsyn combined, especially in the richly complex Russian tongue, (the translations are heavy enuf). In English, I remain in awe--and undoubtedly will so long after the curtain comes down on my mortal remains--of Emilia Bassano, who published her plays and sonnets under the nom de plume, William Shakespeare. Beauty? The quality of mercy... She's in our DNA, friends.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/06/who-is-shakespeare-emilia-bassano/588076/

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    David Ackley
    Aug 27, 10:43pm

    At least you left out Bulgakov, who I'm rather partial to, and of late, as above, Vasily Grossman. Nobody wins in the ranking game I have to say and I'm sorry I started it by comparing the apples of Tolstoi to the pomegranites of Chekhov. However, no less than Nabokov rated Gogol very high in the Bernard Guerney translation, specifically for his rendering of Gogol's cornucopian imagination, spilling homuncili characters out of every metaphor. I mention this because I'm re-reading at this moment "The Inspector General," whose soap-bubble main character, Khlestakov, both undermining and re-creating himself with every fabrication out of his mouth eerily anticipates Trump. And Gogol thought he was inventing!

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 28, 12:25am

    O lort, I forgot Gorky, too. Maybe tRump's reading Gogol...oh, wait...73 IQ? Saw that today somewhere. Unless there are graphic versions out now.

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    Chris Okum
    Aug 28, 05:12pm

    Trump's reading comprehension won't allow him to read his own books, let alone Gogol.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 28, 06:56pm

    Well since he didn't write " his own books," as his ghost writer keeps insisting, they fall into the category of "someone else's," as well and therefore of no interest. But then why are we talking about the reading tastes of a functional illiterate anyway?

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 28, 08:30pm

    Is there certified proof he can write his own name?

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    Amantine B
    Aug 30, 03:45pm

    I've pretty much given up on any ideas regarding success in literary terms. These days without coming up through the entry gatekeeping network of MA's in Creative Writing or participating in selective editor driven seminarsor writing classes, through which one's work is deemed 'safely worthy' of being punted further up them mainstream publishing food chain, outliers stand a fairer chance of regular rejection.

    The other day I opted to follow Johnny Geller on twitter, where he tweeted a comment regarding a piece published in the UK Guardian on Rejection by Sophie Mackintosh

    Geller comments: "Interesting piece on perennial question of rejection in publishing. I've always thought that rejection is wired into the creative process and longevity and success is mostly down to how you deal with this one issue."

    Ms Mckintosh's debut novel The Water Cure was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. What I find striking about these 'opinion pieces' and hers, for me is no exception is how it glosses over the topic ending with a balm of more openness about rejection being part and parcel of 'process', by which we might be kinder and more understanding of ourselves and to others, really rather annoying. The fundamental message I get through both individual's comments is about how sucking up rejection is the better thing to do, for it comes with a blanket assumption that the editor /publisher / agent - ie all the venerable gatekeepers know best.

    By and large this is true, but only to an extent; they do not and should not hold absolute writerly knowledge on what's to be tossed from the slush pile into the bin of no return and what is then favoured; and these days,, such selections are mostly driven by marketing departments' seasonal promotional ideas than actual good writing...

    What Ms Mackintosh fails to acknowledge, as does Mr Geller's quip, is the stamina and power that has historically, and occasionally still drive exceptional publishing choices, when it is authors supporting one-another's work. And herein lies, for me, the real potential of publishing.

    Literary history is shaped by these richly endorsed literary partnerships. As Edward points out between Galway Kinnell with Sharon Olds; Anais Nin and her handpress publishing of Henry Miller, thereby creating a unique collaborative partnership that remains deeply influential, among others; Ezra Pound's and TS Eliot's mutual commitment to each other's work - look how their collaborative engagement pretty much became the tour de force underpinning the modernist poetics in both the UK and America in the 20th century...
    Henry Matisse's etchings in 1935 for James Joyce's' Ulysses and the even lesser known, the 12 heliogravures by Salvador Dali in 1969 for Alice in Wonderland.

    So much collaborative genius is generally swept aside by this perennial focus on mainstream publication and acknowledgement and inevitable rejection. It should really be clear by now just how subjective rejections really are when one reads accounts of how many defining books which eventually saw and see the light of day were rejected over and over and over again... surely we should be paying more attention to what that really says about those who reject as a matter of procedure and dare I say it out loud, personal taste!

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 30, 04:22pm

    A story about whales? Are you shitting me? Send it back...wait, don't waste the postage, drop it in the trash!

    So why do we write? I'll say it one more time, for myself: because if I don't write I'm no longer busy being born, I'm busy dying. Anyone wants to read my shit--ANYone--and my life has one more whit of purpose.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 30, 08:32pm

    There was a long period, decades really, where I couldn't write, not for lack of desire but lack of time--and energy for the task. That was in the nature of my job, about which nothing need be said, except that it was a job and not a bad one as jobs go. The one thing that kept me even thinking about writing as a possibility was a long-running correspondence with my friend, John Baskin. My only publication in this period was a quote he included in one of his essays, published in his book IN PRAISE OF PRACTICAL FERTILIZER. Y

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    Mathew Paust
    Aug 30, 08:37pm

    At the time that must've felt like a drop of heavenly water on the tongue under a Sahara sun. Those wee blessings magnify in our memory over time.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 30, 08:38pm

    yet oddly, it was enough to keep me going, and more his belief that I was against all appearances still a writer. Or rather that I could write, since the only way I will I will accept the label is when I'm more or less actively writing. Writers write, that's it. But this is to say I entirely agree with what Amantine said, and frankly if at least there is a community of peers, or in a pinch even one other writer whom I can reach, that's about all I need to keep going. The rest is frosting, nice but not essential.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 30, 08:39pm

    That it was, Mathew.

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