The Pains of Publication
Recently I’ve had two pieces accepted for publication — I’ve mentioned these in other blogs. (See September 14th and September 21st.)
The word ‘publish’ means ‘to make public.’ Because we live in such a results-oriented culture, a writer can be seduced into thinking that the act of making the work public is the important thing, the critical thing, the thing without which a writer can’t go on, and the frustrations of not being able to make the work public often make some writers throw in the towel.
It’s necessary to get back to basics. What IS important in the writing life?
Last week I wrote about the writer’s voice, so it seems right to begin with this quote from poet Allen Ginsberg, who said, ““To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” This is because a writer’s voice and a writer’s soul are pretty much interchangeable, and soul cannot be traded in the market place. It’s a private, not a public, thing.
So why do we write, if publication isn’t the goal?
Poet, playwright and novelist Enid Bagnold (her story, National Velvet, made Elizabeth Taylor a star) provides an excellent reason:
Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
Pin this up on above your desk, right in the middle of all those rejection slips!