What’s up with the constant fucking writing, anyway?

I can’t get away from it, however quietly these words fall in the woods.  It makes no sense to write, in a sense, if the writing is not read by readers.  We write by imagining the reader when there is no actual reader.  Writing is part of that oldest human longing: to connect with another.   I suppose that’s what most posting on the internet is driven by — the seeking of connection, the desire to have a conversation.   

Kurt Vonnegut always wrote to his perfect reader, I think it was his sister.  He always imagined her intelligent face reading the words he was writing and he wrote in a way that would tickle and provoke her.  If he knew she’d be happy with it, it was ready to send out to those who sometimes buy such things to publish.

Not saying it was any easier then than it is today for someone like the hardworking Mr. Vonnegut to find readers who would pay for his writing.  To be sure, it was very hard.  We know his work only because he persisted, kept writing, being rejected, rewriting, waking early to write, writing after a long day as a hack in some public relations department, making connections and gaining the support of people in the publishing world who championed his writing, what today would be called “his brand”.  I’m not saying there was anything easy or inevitable about Kurt Vonnegut’s great success, or anything unmerited about it.

I’m just imagining living in an era where there are dozens of popular magazines that millions of people read every month.  Actual paper periodicals that tens of thousands of people would pick up periodically, buy and read.  These magazines published all kinds of writing for every imaginable audience.  When a writer (and not everyone felt entitled to be a writer back then) found an audience, that magazine would apparently pay enough, buying four or five pieces a year, for the writer to pay all his bills and spend as much time as possible writing.  

The publishing world of a few decades ago was more diverse, not quite as uniformly bottom-line focused and demographically-driven as it is today.  There was seemingly a bit more variety out there being put into print, as far as I can tell.

I clearly need to focus my research and outreach techniques and come up with a platform-based, metric-driven targeted and leveraged five to seven pronged marketing plan, if I intend to be able to call myself a writer rather than another of the twenty million pretentious clones with a blahg.  If I can’t sell these words, most people would not blame anyone for saying I’m largely wasting my time on a hobby, day after day, year after year.

But for now, a brief exercise in pettiness:

I found one guy who pays $250 a pop for easy-reading 1,000 word real-life based Baby Boomer pieces he puts on a corporately owned website he curates.  He bought the first couple I sent him, then started behaving like a petty, quibbling gatekeeper hack.   One was very moving, and beautifully written, he wrote, but, ironically, a bit too personal; the next one, while undeniably harrowing, oddly did not move him, was somehow too impersonal.   One he accepted for publication and later wrote that he could have sworn he’d told me he’d changed his mind about publishing.  His prerogative, really, as the man with the checkbook.

Left a bad taste, that particular jerk-off and his shoddy practices and mercurial tastes, I told a friend.

“You mean the guy who paid you for your writing,” my friend said.

“Yeah, that arbitrary, language-challenged, assbiting assbiter,” I remember thinking.

 

 

This entry was posted in writing.

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