Print, Applause & $$

Page from Tirant lo Blanc

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Fellow blogger Wordgathering has asked me a challenging question in response to my claim, “Writing isn’t about getting published; writing is about community”: Why bother getting published at all?

I’m going to do my best to try to answer this difficult question.

1) Imitation is the ultimate form of flattery. Everyone wants to hear their words repeated by someone else (with correct attribution, of course). So I would say that all writers hope to get published–to see their words in print together with their name blazoned boldly on the book cover or above the article.

2) Nothing succeeds like success. The payoffs for publication go way beyond payment. Most powerful of these, I think, is glamor: an author is understood to be important (and wise) enough to merit the special attention of having his or her words distributed to the public. He or she acquires a reputation for being successful, something that draws other people to them like bees to a flower.

3) The written word is powerful. What writer hasn’t hoped to influence public thinking about a topic? A well-written letter to the editor, a clever and pointed musical lyric, a magazine article or book about a controversial subject all can sway public opinion, sometimes with dramatic effect.

4) Only the powerful are allowed to speak. The powers that be in any society are aware of the considerations I’ve just pointed out, so they typically allow only those people who share their views access to a society’s ears. Say the wrong thing, embarrass the supreme leader, question authority, and you could find yourself in a world of trouble.

5) The intelligentsia sift their information sources carefully. With most of what we hear through the big media riddled with disinformation, the intelligentsia (i.e., those educated persons who are working peacefully and openly for a better society and world) does its best to screen out the distortions and find the most comprehensive and accurate information it can. In the case of the arts, those people with taste seek the most beautiful and moving works of art.

6) Why are you writing? All of this means that the writer faces a difficult choice: to work towards publication as soon as she or he can or to spend the considerable time and effort it requires to produce true and beautiful writing free of political distortion. It might seem that writers can straddle the fence, walk the tightwire, eat their cake and have it too–but let’s get real. When you are writing about topics that have broad social and political implications, there are few neutral positions available (and the ones that are tend to be boring).

7) A writer has only two obligations: to write as well as he or she can and to tell the truth. If you believe this, then you are writing for your community, whether it be the one that surrounds you, sympathetic souls on the other side of the world, or people who won’t be born for a thousand years. You may be published or not (or only in a minor way), but what counts are your words (not you) and the healing they bring. Many good people have died as a result of telling the truth as they see it.

With that sobering thought, ladies and gentlemen, pick up your pen, sit down at your keyboard, and write…     RT

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Photo: page from 14th century mss; src: WikiCmns; License: Public Domain

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& thanks, Wordgathering, for your challenge (& I know that your question was, Why not just write? Put it down to poetic license ;))

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  1. January 20, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I like the passage:
    you are writing for your community, whether it be the one that surrounds you, sympathetic souls on the other side of the world, or people who won’t be born for a thousand years. You may be published or not (or only in a minor way), but what counts are your words (not you) and the healing they bring…
    +
    I hope to bring some healing too, yes. and if it does not heal others, it heals at least me. having said + written something, makes me satisfied, soothes my soul, produces an empty table and I can start to make new things …

    • January 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      frizz: you are healing yourself…and others. Thanks for quoting me on your blog! RT

  2. January 20, 2011 at 6:24 am
  3. January 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you, sir! I am writing my second post today on the topic of publishing, so will quote you on a couple of things. Your answer is timely.And you do articulate so well.

  4. January 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Margo: i am waiting with curiosity (and a bit of trepidation) for your post(s)…you’re not so inarticulate yourself…& again thanks. RT

  5. January 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Write on!

  1. January 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm
  2. December 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

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