dagNotes: on the common and insipid sentiments about publishing and writing and their relationship with living well
How young writers love to talk about their dedication and publishing and the value their work should be afforded/should possess—because it’s dedicated and they’ve been published. Or, they write to publish. Or, whatever. It’s a poser’s struggle.
The worry about publishing always results from either unearned ambition or competition for a teaching job. The latter is unavoidable for those of us who’ve decided to teach while the former is the result of privilege. Always. Talented writer or not. We all know the writers who were raised in pools of privileged cash who were taught that all the free time they spent reading and writing should pay off for them. All the tuition mom and dad paid to insure appropriate introductions would be made in the most elite workshops and studios should lead to the right internships should lead to the right publications. It’s about getting what you’re worth as a result of paying/knowing who you know.
My contempt is visible, no? Too bad. This much I’ve earned. I’m the guy in your workshop who wants to stick a fork in your thigh, even when I’m the instructor. (Unnecessary but useful Bataille reference. I’ll buy a drink for the first person to get it. And anyway, it’s all a form of sadistic seduction. It’s the appropriate literary violence. It’s just, accurate, precise. And painful.)
It’s worth exploring the relationship of living well to publishing and contrasting to publish with to write.
- to publish can be the result of writing that is not intended to publish;
- to publish is not a reward for properly dedicating your life to writing;
- to live is not a privilege, though the privileged live well;
- to publish is more often a result of privileged living than writing well;
- telling others you’ve dedicated yourself to writing in writing can not rise above self-parody;
- when you’re dead, we might be able to determine to what you dedicated your life;
- after all, living is not the result of publishing;
- to publish is not to successfully live, but to successfully live may depend on being able to write;
- writing and publishing are not synonymous; therefore, to dedicate yourself to publishing is not the same as dedicating yourself to writing;