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On my laptop, there are approximately one hundred and sixty three poems, three (sort of) finished drafts of manuscripts, six(ish) definitely unfinished manuscripts, and twelve document folders jam-picked with half finished scenes, assorted chapters, and hopeless outlines.
Oh, did I mention that I’m nineteen-going-on-twenty?
My passion for creative writing began as soon as I could read. I have a blue plastic bin in my bedroom closet filled with wide-ruled spiral notebooks full of very awful (but equally adorable, if I do say so myself) stories that I used to write in kindergarten while the other kids were coloring or stealing each others crayons or, much to the dismay of my even then germ-a-phobic self, picking their noses as all kindergartners seem to do. Creating characters and plotlines wasn’t a hobby that my peers seemed to share in.
Now, as I’ve matured (a little bit), persevered through high school, and have almost completed my first two years of college, I can say that writing isn’t a hobby frequently prized amongst most of the teenage demographic, either. Sure, in high school even the “cool kids” were up to date on their cult-fiction titles (mainly the ones that were turned into movies). Yet very few were interested in actually contributing to the content of the bookshelves they found themselves browsing. Then, there was me. I didn’t just read books while I should’ve been taking notes in class, I dreamt up books. The majority of my notebooks were filled halfway with actual notes and halfway with sporadic scenes that I couldn’t get out of my head. I was a regular attendee of my high-school’s creative writing club, and our attendance peaked at ten and bottomed out at three.
Writing, no matter how much people love to read, doesn’t seem to be the “hip” or “in” thing for teens to talk about doing. This may be due, in part, to the public education system (I’m talking k-12 here) and how it seems to place a great emphasis on reading creative works, but not much emphasis on the importance of fostering that creativity in its students. Walk into any high school English class and the first question the teacher will ask is, “Read anything good lately?” when really a more introspective question might be “Written anything good lately?”.
We’re taught English by reading literature, but very rarely taught it by learning how to write it. Whoever decided this was the best way to teach clearly wasn’t a “learn-by-doing” kind of pal. Then, of course, teachers are aggravated when their students’ essays come out all too mechanic and scripted, and claim they need to be more fluid and thoughtful in their writing. But if all they’re taught is to churn out topic sentences and five paragraph essays, what do we really expect them to turn in?
Only in my sophomore year of high school did my then-English teacher encourage us to write creatively and give us a forum on which to discuss our work with other students. This experience stands out to me as a highlight not only because I enjoyed it at the time, but because I can look back on it now and see its value. One of my favorite research papers I’ve ever written, I wrote in her class. I can say with fair certainty that it has to do with how she made writing more than just something we did for a grade. Granted, all good things must come to an end, and by the end of the term we all shuffled back into SOL-taking mode and gone were the days of writers-group-Fridays. But I’m distanced enough from my then-fifteen year old self to appreciate the method behind the madness.
Compare it to cooking. You can either give someone a box noodles and a jar of sauce and tell them to follow the instructions, or you can give them the ingredients and let them figure out how to make it all by themselves. Now, I’m a college student, and I love boxed food just as much as the next girl, but there’s nothing about boiling a pot of water and pouring in some dry noodles that makes me a better cook. What does make me a better cook is when I experiment with different seasonings and flavors and make it up as I go. For example, did you know you could make alfredo sauce with butter, cream cheese, and that grated parmesan that comes in the green tube? Neither did I, until I did it. Granted, I’ve made some pretty horrendous things. But have I made some pretty great things, too? Absolutely.
I was lucky enough in high school to have several teachers who helped foster my passion and creativity, who gave me the ingredients I needed and encouraged me to create, who applauded me when I succeeded and encouraged me when I was struggled. I consider myself to be a continuing beneficiary of such luck now that I am in college and am still surrounded by wonderful people and instructors who are doing the same. My writing is continually being pushed, poked, and prodded by people who see something worthwhile in me, and I’m grateful for those people. But it shouldn’t be up to a select few teachers who want to spice up their lesson plan by adding in some creative flare. I think that if we’re going to change the landscape, if we’re going to get more young people like myself writing quality work and openly talking about it, then we need to encourage not just the people who ask for encouragement but also the people who don’t even know they could use it. I think, also, that this starts with breaking down the barriers of what defines a good writer or reader.
There is no specific box you have to fit yourself into to be writer. You can love reading Cosmopolitan and the New Yorker with equal measure. You can love classic literature and young-adult fiction (Divergent, I’m lookin’ at you). Good writing comes in all shapes and sizes and styles, and the first step in overhauling the way writing is taught in public schools is by changing the perception of who should be encouraged to, well, write. Then, and only then, maybe writing will be a “hip” and “cool” thing for teens to do.
Or, maybe, I’m just too hopeful for my own good.
We have extended the deadline for the Miller Audio Prize to Sunday, March 29th.
The Missouri Review is looking for your short audio documentaries, stories, poems, and humor pieces for our 2015 Miller Audio Prize. A $1,000 prize will be awarded to the winner in each category. The award has been renamed in honor of Patricia and Michael Miller, who have generously agreed to endow our audio competition.
Your pay-by-donation entry fee includes a one-year, digital subscription to The Missouri Review,complete with a bonus audio version of the magazine. Winners and select runners-up will have their work featured on The Missouri Review’s website and as part of our Soundbooth podcast series.
Entries will be judged by TMR’s editors in collaboration with this year’s guest judge, Andrew Leland, host and producer of the Organist (kcrw.com/believer), a weekly arts and culture podcast from KCRW and theBeliever magazine. He’s also a contributing editor at the Believer (believermag.com), has taught radio and writing at the Missouri School of Journalism, and has edited books for Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Vintage, and elsewhere.
For details, or to submit, please visit our submission guidelines here.
We are looking forward to listening to everyone’s submissions!
Today’s blog post is by writer William Bradley
But if you are a proud, searching “failure” in this society, and we can take ironic comfort that there are hundred of thousands of us, then it is smart and honorable to know what you attempted and why you are now vulnerable to the body blows of those who once saw you robed in the glow of your vision and now only see an unmade bed and a few unwashed cups on the bare wooden table of a gray day. — Seymour Krim
Much has been written already about Ryan Boudinot’s article in The Stranger, “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One.” The article is written as an insider’s revelation of the uncomfortable truths writing teachers dare not utter for fear of upsetting a lucrative status quo, and to be sure some people (or, to be precise, some of my Facebook friends) seemed to regard it as such. But many more, it seems (again, using the completely scientific sampling of my Facebook friends) found it rather boorish, perhaps even cruel, in Boudinot’s callous dismissal of “the vast majority” of his students’ efforts, and his claims that very few of the students he worked with in this low-residency MFA program were the “Real Deal.”
I don’t like to attack other writers online or in public. I used to do that, early in my career, and I’m deeply embarrassed by my own youthful arrogance these days. Good literary citizenship means supporting each other and promoting good work, not establishing our names by complaining about our fellow writers. However, this article has me rather frustrated.
I will say that, given his opinion that the majority of his creative writing students wasted his time, I agree with his decision to get out of teaching—it’s probably for the best for all involved. And I also agree when he says that you can’t be a serious writer without first being a serious reader. I might even go farther than he does and say that it’s not enough to know the “great works”—writers also need to be reading their contemporaries in literary magazines and journals in order to really know the field. I’ve known aspiring writers who couldn’t be bothered to read, and yeah, they were fooling themselves.
But I can’t get behind claims like “Writers are born with talent.” Everything in my experience—as both a writer and a teacher—tells me that this piece of conventional wisdom (which, I hasten to point out, is a cliché as old as the Muses) is wrong. Had I been born with talent, I don’t think it would have taken me three years of drafting, writing, revising, editing, submitting, crying, re-revising, re-submitting, etc. before I finally published that first essay. Of course, I’m probably not the Real Deal, but most of my writer friends—some of whom are very highly-regarded—could tell you similar stories.
I think writing is, largely, a skill one learns through voracious reading and practice. Now, I think there are some people who are naturally curious about the world and who want to use words to understand, explain, and interpret the world and its people. That, I think, is what motivates a lot of writers, and it’s the one thing that I can’t really teach students. But again, I don’t think anyone is born with the ability to write or craft compelling stories. I’m guessing that “talent” is what we mistakenly call habits instilled at a young age, habits that can often look like the creative impulse was somehow divinely-inspired or genetic in nature. For example, my father used to make up stories to entertain us, then– as we got older– he started reading to us. The Adventures of Robin Hood. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Tom Sawyer. Tortilla Flat. I wasn’t born a writer—to my shame, I wasn’t even born a talker– but I’m convinced that those early experiences of learning to respect and love storytelling and literature helped shape me into one.
I’m not sure I can agree with this, either: “If you’re able to continue writing while embracing the assumption that no one will ever read your work, it will reward you in ways you never imagined.” Well, maybe. And we shouldn’t write just to get praise (or Facebook “likes”), of course. But part of the reason I write is because I want someone else to engage with my ideas. Sure, not every idea needs to be let out into the world, but I’m not sure writing without any expectation of having an audience is really, well, writing– much like masturbating isn’t the same as having sex, to use a comparison I made in an essay published recently in The Essay Review. If you don’t think your ideas are worth sharing, why write them down in the first place, where they might be discovered? Why not just be content to amuse yourself with your deep thoughts?
Much has been written about Boudinot’s insensitivity towards those who write memoirs of child abuse and trauma, as he joked “having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.” I’ll admit, I flinched when I read that line too—not only because it was cruel towards, presumably, real people who had suffered real abuse, but because I could also see what he was trying to say, and it was painful to see him garble the message so badly. It is true, surviving abuse does not make one a writer, and having a traumatic situation does not necessarily mean that one has the skills to compose a compelling story. Had he said it like that, I think most of us would have to acknowledge the point. But instead, he decided to go with ill-advised dark comedy. He made the joke that some of us might make among close and trusted friends—the people with whom we play Cards Against Humanity, the people who know we wouldn’t really wish more abuse upon victims. It was a gambit, I think, designed to establish intimacy with the reader—a remark meant to be droll, maybe followed by a knowing wink. But instead, it winds up being the most alienating part of an already-alienating squib.
Far worse than the ill-advised attempt at dark humor, though, is this: “For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy. They want someone to feel sorry for them, and they believe that the supposed candor of their reflective essay excuses its technical faults.”
I’m sorry, but that’s just bullshit. And it’s the kind of bullshit student essayists and memoirists have been hearing for a long time. I taught creative nonfiction in an MFA program for two years, and I didn’t encounter a single narcissist. I think I have had a single student in my entire career who wrote nonfiction in an attempt to make himself look awesome (he was an undergrad, though). The majority were students who were genuinely committed to creating art out of their experiences and ideas. I directed three amazing MFA theses during that time, and I’m really proud of all three of those students for the amazing work they produced.
They were not, of course, the Real Deal, if I understand Boudinot’s use of the term to mean “born with talent.” I also do not believe that I am the Real Deal—it has taken me about a decade to finish writing my first book, after all. I am comforted somewhat, though, in my belief that most of you reading this would also be reluctant to describe yourselves as Real Deals—I’ve met very few people who were genuinely that arrogant. And I submit to you that, based on the backlash against an article that seemed designed to elicit smiles of familiarity from those “in the know” regarding creative writing programs, Ryan Boudinot is not the Real Deal either—the Real Deal, I suspect, wouldn’t have written (let alone published) such a flawed, divisive, and ultimately poorly-articulated article.
Perhaps Real Deals don’t actually exist? Perhaps those of us trying to get our voices heard through our writing are working hard, falling down, and picking ourselves back up again on a somewhat-regular basis? And maybe—and I know, it can be difficult to find common ground with people who seem really, really obnoxious—maybe, we can acknowledge that Ryan Boudinot is among our ranks?
I think it would be nice if Ryan Boudinot apologized for his article, even if he thinks he has been tragically misunderstood, because any misunderstanding must come, at least in part, from his failure to live up to his own standards when it comes to writing quality. I know some people have demanded an apology, even going so far as to suggest that he may not be the right person for his new job as the director of Seattle City of Literature. As irritated as I am by his article, I think those of us in the Not Real Deal Business ought to resist the urge to grab our (digital) pitchforks and torches or work to harm him personally. He wrote something that didn’t live up to his own ambitions for it—who among us hasn’t failed in such a way? Furthermore, his lousy article revealed its author to be one of us—that is, not the Real Deal. I suspect that for someone like Ryan Boudinot, that is probably punishment enough.
William Bradley’s creative and scholarly work has appeared in a variety of magazines and journals including Utne Reader, The Bellevue Literary Review, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, Passages North, College English, and Missouri Review. He is a contributing editor/ pop culture columnist for The Normal School and an assistant editor at River Teeth, and he writes about essays for Utne Reader. He lives in Canton, New York, where he teaches at St. Lawrence University. Visit him online at williambradleyessayist.com
Today’s blog post is by writer Q. Lindsey Barrett
The thing floating about the interwebs from a former writing teacher . . . ? Yeah, he makes a few valid points. Well I am a writing teacher and I say ignore him. This is what I have told my students about what they will need to do to sustain themselves as a writers in a world where this kind of virtual slap has become commonplace—You will need to create your own community of writers.
Here is the reality of the writing life:
The only thing that matters is the writing.
No reader buys a book or journal in order to tell the writer what they thought of the work. No one joins a critique group solely to offer feedback. Though many (many!) people write to create a record of their childhood trauma, not a single book buyer enters a bookstore (online or bricks-and-mortar) with the goal of finding a record of trauma in order to sympathize with the writer. If you want your writing to be read, your job as a writer, whether CNF or fiction, is to transcend your own life experience. Your life, ideas, skills, creativity are only vehicles for transporting the reader. Except for your mom, no one cares about the writer without first being moved by the writing.
The only thing that matters is the writing.
If you write for validation, for feedback, for grades, to get noticed, to be understood, or sadly, even to make a living, I urge you to seek another profession. When you send stories to journals, months, and sometimes years, will go by while you wait for a response, while you pray for at least feedback. You will not receive feedback; you may never get so much as a ‘no.’ That’s right, far too many journals never bother responding at all. Most agent queries are ignored. Publishers send their lowliest unpaid interns into the slush (unsolicited manuscripts) on the off chance one of them unearths a gem. Your chances of being struck by lightning are several times greater than the chances of getting a book contract. For every one of the tens of thousands of books published each year, the tiniest fraction earn the writer enough money to sustain her or him through the writing of the next one.
The only thing that matters is the writing.
To be a writer you must write because you want to. You must write because you need to. You cannot allow the lack of validation or praise or pay stop you. You must write because you are certain you have something worthwhile to say. You must constantly (constantly!) seek to improve your skills, because there isn’t a writer in the world who couldn’t write at least a little bit better. So get better. Find a better teacher if yours hasn’t the talent or motivation to teach you. I can say unequivocally I am a better writer as a result of my MFA program. Was it vocational education? No. Skill, desire, persistence, and determination are the only aspects of the writing life that are in your control. You write alone, you publish alone, and your reader will read what you wrote alone, without you ever knowing if your work touched, or amused, or frightened, or entertained them. You no doubt have noticed that the haters are many times more likely to publicly announce their hatred than the lovers are likely to announce they loved something.
The only thing that matters is the writing.
The value of a writing community of your own making cannot be overstated. Your family may love your work, but the world won’t care. Your family may be avid readers, educated and articulate, and still won’t have the objectivity to offer valuable feedback. Profit margins in the book biz are now so slim that editors no longer edit—they are all either ‘acquisition editors’ or ‘line editors’ (proofreaders). Writers are expected to get feedback from their peers (writers at about the same stage of development) on their own in order to get a manuscript ready for publication. Many traditional publishers (not self-publishing) expect the writer to pay to have their manuscript professionally edited before submitting it. (Of course, when self-publishing the writer must do, or pay for, all steps in the publishing process.) Agents do not take the time to say why they aren’t accepting your work or wanting to represent you—they either say ‘no’ or don’t respond to your query at all. Yes, there are exceptions, but the exceptions are more rare than you can possibly imagine. Someone once said that dancers are the only profession that requires more training, more years of toil, more ongoing effort for the smallest reward than writers. So why do they do it? Because they love to dance; they must dance. Do they love the endless practice, the lifelong classes, the blisters and bruises and broken bodies? I doubt it. They love the dancing.
The process of bleeding your soul onto a page isn’t fun or easy; the pay is miserable; the rejection disheartening. Love the writing. Love creating a world on the page. Love transcending life and transporting a reader you may never know. Love that marvelous community of writers who share your pain and passion and joy and sorrow.
Do I say all this to discourage you? No. I tell you all this because you need to know, you must know:
The only thing that matters is the writing.
You all have within you the seeds of a writing life, you all have potential—each of you who have chosen to read this. To be a writer you must commit to tilling and hoeing and watering and weeding before you’ll have a bountiful harvest of stories that the world wants to read, whether within or without an MFA program. You must create a community of like-minded writers. You must believe that, to you, the only thing that matters is the writing.
Thanks for reading ~
~ Q Lindsey Barrett
Q Lindsey Barrett is a short story writer and novelist, writing teacher, conference speaker, and member of the National Book Critics Circle. She exalts writers and rejects manuscripts as Assistant Fiction Editor of Hunger Mountain and taps out atonement in her ‘Writing Beyond Good’ column at The Missouri Review Blog. One of that elusive species nocte scriptor, she can be sighted on many a starless Pacific Northwest night at her treadmill desk, walking, endlessly walking, fingers arranging and re-arranging words, ever seeking the combination that creates story magic. Visit her online at qlindseybarrett.com.
Last weekend, the third season of Netflix’s hit series House of Cards was released. The show, a re-imagining of the British show of the same name from the 1980s, follows South Carolina Congressman Francis J. Underwood and his wife Claire on their vindictive climb to the top of U.S. politics. Filled with drama (or melodrama) straight from Shakespeare, the Underwoods use and abuse, seduce and betray, charm and belittle, just about everyone (including each other) all the way to the Oval Office, which is where season three picks up.
There is, of course, a very good chance you already know this. Starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, as well as a slew of talented actresses and actors and filmmakers, House of Cards has not just been praised for the show itself, but also for what it means as a distribution model for Hollywood, a subject for someone far more knowledgeable about technology and distribution than me.
One of my favorite essays on the craft of writing is Susan Neville’s “Where’s Iago?” I first read this essay in the collection Bringing the Devil to His Knees, and I’ve returned to this essay, both as a writer and as a teacher, ever since. I can’t truly do justice to this essay with a simple summary, but what Neville explores is the idea of a Iago character in all fiction: the one who is the catalyst for events, an exploration of evil, the fall from innocence, all of which is wrapped up in some sort of seductive delivery. Neville writes that Iago is “as much a victim, often, of his own evil as anyone.”
This all sounds like … well, Frank Underwood.
One of the reasons I love Frank Underwood is because he’s played by Kevin Spacey. No matter how good an actor is, viewers are always aware they are watching a television show or a movie or even a play. Part of the pleasure of watching anything Kevin Spacey is in is that you are always watching Kevin Spacey. There are certain actors and actresses that, no matter what, no matter how good you might objectively (try) to be, you know you just can’t be swept up by the performance because you just don’t like the performer. It’s nearly impossible to watch House of Cards and not think “Man, Kevin Spacey is having so much fun with this.” He is, and always will be, an entertainer; his performance as Bobby Darin in “Beyond the Sea” is, in part, a testimonial to the joy in being an entertainer.
Another reason I enjoy Underwood as a character is his boyish qualities that are often exhibited in the show. Early in season one, Underwood is shown in his basement, decompressing by … playing video games. He has a fondness for first person shoot ‘em ups, and wears headphones so as not to disturb Claire. Later in season one, when he drops in on Congressman Peter Russo to tell him that twelve thousand jobs are being lost in Russo’s district, Underwood is momentarily distracted by a PSP belonging to Russo’s son. Underwood seems genuinely intrigued by it (“I oughta get one for the car”) before laying the boom down on Russo.
Another huge reason I’m hooked on President Underwood is his love of Claire. On a recent Decode DC podcast, House of Cards staff writer Bill Kennedy discussed whether or not he and the others believed that Frank Underwood was a sociopath. He said, no; he and the other writers pointed to Frank’s love and devotion to Claire as the key reason they don’t consider him a sociopath Now, to be fair, I believe this is a gross simplification of what “sociopath” actually means, and is counterbalanced by some pretty damning words and actions by Frank. Nonetheless, they are the writers, the actual creators of Francis J. Underwood, and I do find that Frank is humanized and complicated by his devotion to Claire … especially given how often he betrays her.
There are other reasons to get a kick out of Frank—the way he devours a rack of ribs, speaking directly to the viewer by breaking the fourth wall (which, I’d argue, implicitly makes us his accomplice), his complex sexuality, his snark and his wit—none of which takes away from this simple fact: Frank Underwood is a villain. What in large part makes him so seductive and intriguing (to me, at least) is his complexity.
Even Darth Vader was a dad, you know?
In the last twenty years, Hollywood has churned out several charming villains: Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White, and Frank Underwood, just to name a few. One of the benefits of these serial shows is that there is time to show all the complexity of these characters (ex: Tony Soprano and the ducks in his swimming pool) in a way that a film, in roughly two hours, often struggles to do. Great film villains (Hans Gruber, Nurse Ratched, Hannibal Lecter) do tend to be, well, a bit one-sided.
Frank Underwood has more sides than a dodecahedron.
Above all, what I love about Frank Underwood is that I know he’s evil and even though I’m not rooting for him … I’m sorta rooting for him. He’s an indefensible person, but an indispensable character. And that’s what we want in a narrative. Without Frank, there’s no show, and I want to see how deep and dark and awful this spiral can become. Which is what great characters do: take us to a place that is unknown and truthful. In some ways, House of Cards is more a horror show than a political show, a visual pageturner that we cannot look away from.
Welcome back, Frank. I wish I could say more about season three … but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
Last week in my Internship in Publishing class, we were discussing online submission fees and our submission system, which is powered by Submission Manager, the program endorsed by CLMP and designed by Devin Emke. I’ve discussed this subject before with my class (and on this blog). For the most part, my students were untroubled by online submission fees, even when I did my best to steer the conversation into some sort of “Art is anti-capitalist!” angles. They didn’t blink.
What was odd to me was when I asked them about stuffing envelopes. No, not the kind of normal intern stuffing envelopes stuff where you get papercuts and are mailing press releases and all that other good stuff. No, I was referring to actually mailing out your manuscripts via the post office. Standing in line with a stack of ten envelopes in your hands and slapping stamps on those suckers.
I didn’t expect my undergraduates to be familiar with that. After all, they’ve grown up with the Internet being ubiquitous in their lives, and only about half my students actually want to be writers (as opposed to being editors or publishers). However, I also have two graduate students in my class, and while I am a little bit older than them, it isn’t by THAT much. And they both sorta shrugged at the concept of mailing out a physical manuscript.
When I was a graduate student in my MFA program, I used to block off Saturday mornings to mail my stories. I bought a big stack of manila and #10 envelopes from Office Depot, and made sure to stock up on stamps every time I went to the post office. Back then, I made sure to pay attention to see if postal rates were going to rise any time soon, in case I needed to snag three cent stamps to add to the SASE I needed to include with my manuscript. I suppose in that (very) small way, I was a conscientious submitter. On the other hand, I stocked up on all this stuff because I was cranking out a new story every six weeks or so, and simultaneously submitting my work to as many places as I possibly could, so I wasn’t really that conscientious of a submitter.
Let’s point out a few things here. First, constant submitters, like I was, really clog up literary magazines. My general attitude was to have a manuscript under consideration at virtually all times at every magazine I wanted to be in. It never quite worked that way, what with the cost of mailing manuscripts and the time to get to the post office and with reading periods being closed, but I tried. When one story was turned down by Journal X, I simply sent them another one, until I was all out. Second, you probably will not be stunned to read that most of those stories were never published and that my stories were constantly rejected. My work wasn’t good enough; I rushed stories out the door far too early, but even with a gestation period and revision, I doubt those stories were very good.
So I’ve never been one to think that mailing a physical manuscript was going to slow me down. And, I’m demonstrable proof that just because someone goes to the post office rather than clicking a button in a web browser, it doesn’t mean the writer takes any special care to make her/his story perfect before mailing it off for publication. Nonetheless, I wonder if we lose something if we skip those manila envelopes.
It’s hard not to feel that this is the first in what will now be a lifelong series of Crotchety Old Man blog posts, all that “back in my day …” stuff. But I think we’re capable of acknowledging that, yes, online submissions had made life easier for both writers and editors (and I’m both of those things), while simultaneously wishing, just a little bit, for the way it was. I prefer reading paper rather than a screen, a hardcover rather than an iPad. I’m certainly not alone with this feeling and attitude.
But I wonder what it means for a generation of writers who might never get beyond the screen with their writing. They might only work on a screen, finish their drafts on screen, send their work out on a screen, and then read their published work on a screen. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days, and I haven’t come to any deep or (even shallow) meaning behind this, other than it struck me as curious, and has stayed with me for several days. I recently finished a story that had been stewing, in various forms, on my laptop for almost three years. When something haunts me, I try not to shake it off. There’s just somethings that we should never let go of, and I believe paper, the good ol’ fashioned stuff, is one of those things.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye