Making the Most and Wishing For the Best


Is there a good reason for writing and posting anything on the page? Seems to me there is and in a few brief turns I will show you my reasons why. For you serious writers out there wishing to make a lot of money I would think procuring a steady job would probably serve you better. Of course, you could learn to write what sells and discover who is buying it, but then that wouldn't make you the serious writer you thought and said you were. How about we sort of just make believe and dream about making history? If that is the position you are taking along with me then this is the perfect place for you.

Writing in order to make history is not a novel idea. Many writers before us labored with just that goal in mind. I really can think of only one great writer worth his or her salt who made it big early in their career, that being J.D. Salinger and he handled his fame admirably. Fact is, most historically great writers are tossed to the side or abused for taking pen to paper for their absurd ideas and formulations. A partial listing is remarkable: Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, Samuel Beckett, and we could go on and on but what is the point as you already must get the gist of what I am saying. The popular writers of our time are almost never the writers who make history, not the great ones remembered long after they have gone missing from our mundane lives.

Years ago I spent, like you, several hundred dollars on copy paper, stamps, envelopes, not to mention countless hours searching through books and sites online that listed just where exactly to send my work with the very best chances of it being published there. I enjoyed some success, but the enormous amount of time it took to search and send I felt was better spent reading or writing about something more interesting. I learned for myself that fame and celebrity were really not good formulas for long-term success at making history with my pen. On the contrary, if I wanted to be known and remembered for my dashing looks, destructive or insane behavior, or known for all the women I have joined members with in bed, then working my current plan for publishing would also not be a productive use of my time. But it is my plan now and I intend it always will be.

I write most every day, at least something for the page, a letter, or a piece to be tucked away for later distribution after several revisions and severe editing. When I do decide to publish, the piece is not to be rejected, as I decide these days what's good and worthy of the page. No longer does an editor not of my liking have any say in what I am, or what I am not, except in the manner of my ongoing working relationship with Gordon Lish. I have seen some talk about, and irritable mannerisms associated with, the opinions of some of my contemporaries regarding this matter. The fact that I allow Gordon Lish to still accept or reject my work, mark up my grammar, ask me for a better word than the one I placed here or there, or whatever else he wishes to give his time for in the advancement of my poetry career is something I am forever grateful for. My position on this seems to bother some writers who think it too sissy of me, too weak of me to not stand on my own, that my own self-editing is perceived by them as maybe not severe enough for me to trust as others think they can do so for themselves, and for that I am a lesser writer for it. Ridiculous arguments from writers who obviously cannot pound sand. Ugly grunts I would gladly stand toe to toe with if I hadn't fallen off my roof and broken so many bones and cartilage in the process. It is perhaps a stinging tinge of jealousy I feel emanating from these writers, and I do understand. I would be myself so very envious of somebody who had the ears and eyes of Gordon Lish looking over their work. You will never hear from me the first complaint. He pushes me always to do a better job of it, to make history on the page. But it is my poetry only where Gordon gets his say. I make and edit my own films and write my own articles. Any fiction I might also present to the world would undoubtedly go through the hands of Gordon Lish first. It is the right thing to do. And he, of all people, knows what it is like out there in the publishing world of fiction. So I do my own thing here at my hub and I wish for all others the very best for their own accomplishments.

There are some pitfalls to this eccentric, if not audacious, behavior of mine. In the world of self-publishing we all know the mountains of drivel and dung we are endlessly subjected to. Often the recreational writer thinks there are readers interested in this stuff. And to no ones surprise there is usually always another mountain of bad readers just waiting to compare their own awful crap with those they are commiserating with. It really isn't much different than academic journals that publish within their own tribe, these loyal bands of professors sweating away at their keyboards everyday in order to get their lofty words on the page. And it isn't much different than the drivel magazines such as The New Yorker publish weekly except for the occasional Jack Gilbert poem some fellow literary buff pressured them to pretend to give some little credence to. Once in a while there will be discovered among the cartoons and sages an Anne Carson poem worth mentioning. But most of the time you'll see some goofy narrative poem written by a poet with nine books to her credit, or a bore and a half by somebody like Donald Hall or Charles Simic, or a translation that I guarantee nobody has read or ever will.

For those of you who think this matters too much to a person like me, you're right. It does. It matters too much because it promotes bad poetry, lifeless poetry, or stuff I call agenda-driven whether it be somebody's perceived rights, political views, religion, or sexual orientation. When I read I am looking to get my socks knocked off of me, and this pathetic gruel we're constantly subjected to just sickens me. So what is the reason again for writing on this page? The only reason for me to write is to make history. But it is obvious you can do much more than that here too. You can write any awful thing you like provided you do not offend too many people in the process. Your topic can be as boring as you want it to be and it still might make you money if it helps to show others how you do it. You can write about your old friends and acquaintances, and make new ones in the process to be pen pals with. You might also present yourself as an expert in something, as I do with my poetry, and without the usually required academic credentials in which to officially do so. And there is also a chance you will be taken seriously by someone like yourself, and by that chance encounter you may find another way to prosper enough to get yourself again inhaling, blowing your awful breath on the faces of these people with their too wide-open, frightfully happy and toothy smiles.

Comments 2 comments

Barnsey profile image

Barnsey 4 years ago from Happy Hunting Grounds

As ever your words inspire me. If I am unwilling to change my style and morph into someone else for the pleasure of a publisher does that make me a bad writer?

mewlhouse profile image

mewlhouse 4 years ago from Louisville Author

Finding your style is paramount to you being the writer you can be. Morphing into someone else is not. But lying and stealing from others is OK. Thanks for reading. And commenting.

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