Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't Think About It, Jen

It's a wonderful thing that the process of publication has become more obtainable to the average Joe or Jane.  One needn't watch the nepotism of literary families from afar, reading some works with awe and others with a cinched brow, wondering why, and knowing that s/he will never infiltrate the circle, no matter the talent or drive.  Now, beginning outside of a circle is still tough, but doable.  Small publishers are finding lower costs and taking on new voices in a desire to find the next best thing.  And, if a writer is truly confident (and in a financial position to do so) s/he can even self-publish, which I suppose was always around but is now a more consumer-friendly process.

OK, so publishing is more obtainable.  This is good because it allows a greater variety of voices, not just the mentally tormented upper-class or literary namesakes.  BUT it also means that it can be very, very tempting to publish prematurely.  To write a book for the sole purpose of publication.  This, to me, is pointless.  Publication should be something to consider after the work is birthed, in my humble opinion, anyway.  Publication is a side effect, a privilege of having written a damn good story.

My point?  The art of writing can only be fully realized if it is done for it's own sake.  When I wrote Musical Chairs, I didn't think of publication because I didn't know it was an option.  I thought, the business would come later, if at all.

I'm talking to myself here.... Let me explain why:  I have a few hundred pages worth of short stories, and I've found the little devilish version of myself on my right shoulder, barking that I should work on it because it would be publish-worth sooner.  The little creative, angelic version, on the other hand, is telling me to work on Absurd Hunger, which won't be done for a year or two or three, because this is the project that consumes my artistic self right now and it is likewise a project that would be compromised if I abandon it for the short story collection, which promises sooner publication.  Absurd Hunger is a work I want to spend years on.  I want it to be exactly what I envision, not one word short, and I will follow my favorite writers' examples (Jeffrey Eugenides, Vladimir NabokovJonathan Franzen and others who have not compromised their vision for the business, despite their opportunities to publish (I say this because of interviews I've read by these particular authors)) and work on it for ten years if I must, to get it where it needs to be (God, I hope it doesn't take ten years!) to ensure that it's wholly my own work and not the hodgepodge of my vision and an editor's over-worked hand.

I'll follow my writing instincts, but I just had to share... I figure if I write it publicly, I'll have to live up to it.  And, to acknowledge the distraction, the lure of publication, gives it less power.  I've rushed into things my whole life.  But right now, I don't have the luxury.  One day, perhaps I'll write full-time and won't have to make such difficult choices.  But for now, while I'm working full-time and writing on the side, it's a crucial choice.  Should I feed creativity or should I feed the dream of being a writer?  No easy choice, but I chose art.

1 comment:

  1. Now that you've told us, you gotta stick to your guns.


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