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Criticism, Fiction, Publishing, Ruminations, The Writer's Life, Writing and Depression, Writings

The Literary Conversation

I intimated in a previous blog that a lack of publishing credits meant failure as a writer. There are many in the writing world who take issue with that sentiment—anyone who’s ever taken a writing course or participated in a writers’ group has probably heard the maxim that we write because it is our passion.

This is only part of the truth.

Don’t try to tell to me it’s about writing for passion alone, for personal satisfaction, and that I shouldn’t be concerned with being published. If that were the case I would keep a diary. If that were the case I wouldn’t bother with a writers’ group or with comments from editors suggesting changes that might make my writing more publishable. I wouldn’t attend writer conferences or subscribe to writer magazines in an effort to improve my craft.

We write to be published. We write to know that someone out there in the reading public shares our views, that our voices are part of the literary conversation. And, to be honest, each rejection a writer receives is a way of saying, “No. What you have to say isn’t important enough to hear.” Writers don’t stop writing because they’ve lost their passion, they write because it seems no one is listening.

We can mitigate that lament somewhat by pointing out the writing industry is inherently unfair. Not enough people read literature, and there are not nearly enough outlets for good writers. Many journals and publishing houses give preference to well-known writers, whatever the quality of the work. Far too many good writers remain unpublished for no other reason than there just isn’t room enough for them in the conversation.

Writers and editors, we must make that room.


About Joe Ponepinto

Co-publisher, with Kelly Davio, of Tahoma Literary Review. Author of "Curtain Calls," a featured Kirkus Review. Married to Dona. Dad to Henry, the coffee-drinkin' dog.


5 thoughts on “The Literary Conversation

  1. I agree with you Joe, we do write to be heard, whether it is on a blog or in a literary magazine. I admit that I have not been rejected by a publisher, yet. However when someone doesn’t like what I have written, I don’t take it as what I’ve written isn’t good enough. I take it as their personal preference. This is not to say I am not open to criticism. I truly welcome ideas that will help me improve my craft. However, I also know there are some very celebrated writers that I, if I were an editor, would not have chosen to publish. Ultimately, no matter how good you are it is about connecting with the right audience.

    Posted by jetepper | April 14, 2011, 1:07 PM
    • You’re right, Jeanne, connecting with the right audience is one of the keys. Until you do it can seem as though your writing is like SETI, beaming ideas out into the universe and waiting for a response.

      Posted by jpon | April 16, 2011, 1:06 AM
  2. I write. I like it when people say nice things about my writing. The more the better. That’s pretty much it.

    Posted by jonzech | April 15, 2011, 3:02 AM
  3. reading this is very discouraging… especially when I see a long list of publications and accomplishments beneath your name. and especially when I know how hard you work and how talented and intelligent you are. it’s discouraging, too, when all that I want and am working toward at this moment is to work harder, be clearer, write stronger. I’m not even thinking, yet, about the publishing world. I am only thinking about my own standards, which I’ll never live up to. I don’t know what to say to this except this is the world and the life we’ve chosen, sacrificed and trained for… and all we can do is keep trying and keep fighting and keep the faith. all my best to you and sending you positive vibes. hoping you keep believing in your work and that other people (and publishers) do, too.

    Posted by moondaria | April 19, 2011, 3:19 AM

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