The Art of Getting Published

I have already written more than once on the distressing tendency I find for writers to be more interested in playing the role of author than in actually writing anything, but the very interesting and polymath man who was refinishing our floors the other day, and who stopped to have an extended conversation with me on this and other subjects, summed up this problem in a phrase so succinct that I thought I should post it.

“Most writers,” he said, “are less interested in the art of writing than in the art of getting published,” and this reflects my experience exactly. I make no claim to having mastered the art of writing, not even to having made any great progress in that direction, but I can say without reservation that I am deeply passionate about the art of writing, that I am always striving to write better, and that I desire very strongly a community of writers who feel similarly.  This is why I am endlessly frustrated to find that so many writers are motivated, not by the art of writing at all, but by the art of being published.

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5 comments
  1. John Jantunen said:

    Though Luke, you have to admit that you would have not been able to read any of your favourite authors had they not been published. Writing is meant to be read. In fact you had a blog not long ago lamenting that “much of what comes across my desk now fails entirely to account for its audience” which would seem to reinforce the idea that writers must write for something other their own vanity. And what is that, if not to be published, to be read, to find an audience, to inspire and to find community in this, the sharing or words and ideas on the written page. I don’t think that one can so easily dismiss the drive to get published, and the benefits there-in. One should instead mourn the loss of our ability to derive substantive meaning from the world we live which, in an ideal world, we would then translate to the page.

  2. John Jantunen said:

    Bolano wrote to get published. Gardner wrote to get published. Borges wrote to get published. Lessing wrote to get published. Saramago wrote to get published. Hemmingway wrote to get published. Writing to get published and plumbing the depths with open eyes and translating your experience to the page are not mutually exclusive.

  3. John,

    I am not rejecting publishing altogether, I am rejecting an attitude among writers where the art of getting published has all but replaced the art of writing. Yes, a writer must be published in one way or another in order to be read, but I reject the idea, as I think you do too, that the art of writing should be reduced to a set of techniques and strategies that might get an author published.

  4. John Jantunen said:

    Dance monkey, dance!

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