Thoughts on being "published"

Why the quotes, you may ask?  Well, I have been thinking that writing a blog is a little similar to zero-cost vanity pubishing.  A large part of the impetus for me to start blogging came from a desire to have some sort of motivation for me to write.  I plan to participate in [[NaNoWriMo]] and am hoping that after November I shall continue to write.  One of my poems (albeit a piece of [[doggerel]]) has already appeared in my blog.  I have addd a number of links to writers resources to my links page and several on my blogroll are there in connection with writing.

But despite all of that my feelings about being published are ambivalent and contradictory. I will openly admit that I pretty much detest J.K. Rowling.  She and Jodi Piccoult might make good examples to typify publication that I feel sense of dismay rather than any cause for celebration.  I do not see them as role model authors, though many would (presumably their agents especially!).  J.M. Coetze, Joseph Heller, the late Kurt Vonnegut, and even Hemmingway and the like - these I hold in high regard.  But they did not shy away from publication.  Perhaps it is a luxury and a vanity to shun publication?  Perhaps I have some weird snobbery going on?

If I dig further back I hold as examples of greatness Swift, Shakespeare, and Goethe. Shakespeares primary medium was the play and for a play to be properly appreciated it must be performed.  For it to be performed publication is more or less required, though I am sure there are plenty of examples of plays being performed and passed on from word of mouth, but is that not a form of oral publication?  Swifts primary mediums were essays and books, and he has a much sharper political and journalistic mind, but there is no doubt he was a brilliant writer. I do not have any particularly negative figures in the past, perhaps they did not stand the test of time?  Will JK Rowling be remembered as more than a footnote in literature come 2200?  Only time shall tell and neither you nor I will ever know.

But thinking on these examples gives me some clue, and actually modifies my feelings about publication.  I recently attended a library visit by a recently published author.  She talked of her experience of the writing process.  Asides from a few cliches which she glossed over like "writing about what you know" I was rather engaged by her description of the process she experience - how she would always dedicate fixed time and attempt to engage in conversations with the characters in her novel, how she felt when she found herself dreaming of the characters, certain motifs and activities, such as the clothes and cooking in the book.  Overall it was a vivid description of not just creating and not especially crafting the book, but rather of animating, of bringing to life.  So surely a books life is incomplete if it belongs only to the author? Surely that is a little like [[Schroedingers cat]] and how can one know there is a novel in there or not?  Does not a piece of writing exist only in the mind, and is not the art of it for the writer to have something in their mind and then create something in the minds of the readers?

So perhaps publication is a "necessary evil"?  At least that's my thinking at the moment, that I need to overcome my scruples/foibles/reservations and embrace the possibility of publication wholeheartedly.  After all the prospect is quite likely a remote one.  And a pen name is always a possibility.... I think on making this post it becomes apparent that it is not the actual publication that bothers me, and hopefully not the associated criticism, I think it is the fear of being popular and populist.  I want my writing to transcend that.  But I do not want it to be especially exclusive.  Were I gifted enough, disciplined enough, and dedicated enough with a real talent then I would aspire towards being a poet perhaps, and I believe poetry lives more in the recitation that on the page.  I believe we all have to recite a poem as we read it to grasp it.  I enjoy poetry enough when it is done well to know that my talents in that regard are very limited and I am easily daunted by the prospect of attempting to produce something I feel deserves to be published.

I hope I shall not develop similar feelings about whatever writing I produce from NaNoWriMo.  We shall see.

12:20 AM | 1 Comment | Tags: , , ,


  1. Good luck with NaNoWriMo! :)

    Funky dredd on