Friday, December 12, 2014
On Writing and Publishing
I want to stop writing. It is like quitting smoking. I should stop. It is getting me nowhere. It may be bad for my health—not the writing so much as the trying to write, the trying to publish and failing, the emotional toil of dealing with the rejection, the extreme emotional toil of dealing with the rejection which signals that I will not become “professional” as a writer, that the kind of professional work I want to do (academic/teaching) I cannot do professionally without the right kinds and numbers of publications. And so giving up writing is, in a way, giving up the academic professional pursuit, which in some ways would be better for my health. Pursuing writing and publication in the hope of a full time academic, teaching job entails stress, self-annihilation, emotional destruction, critique, and devaluing of anything that is good about oneself. Instead, I have come to focus on the symbolism (everything bad) that comes with each rejection. I am talking about creative work (poems, creative essays, weird short fiction) as well as academic writing (critical essays on any variety of mainly contemporary writing topics). The academic rejections are easier to take—maybe because I haven’t been doing that kind of writing for as long as the creative, and haven’t sent/had rejected as much, and have internalized my own inadequacies as an academic (writer). But when one has been a “creative writer” for so long, and so much work is consistently rejected, one has to start to question the point of doing it at all, let alone continuing to send it out for inevitable rejection. Even when one know the editors of a journal from grad school, and still one’s work is rejected there, then it must begin to become clear that there is so much writing in the world that is better, smarter, more clever, more stylistically brilliant than one’s own. A real writer might argue that writing, and process, and the experience of writing are important, and publishing should not be the focus. But not having time to make brilliant writing is a stress that I wonder would be better just let go.
To find out more about this mini-essay project see the Introduction:The (Contingent)(Academic)(Teacher) in 2015