I think there is, at times, a feeling that you have done something really fantastic and it’s been a secret for so long. So, you have this thing that may feel nice and it may be a secret, then it feels like everyone is looking at you and you cannot tell what their facial expressions are supposed to be conveying. And you wonder if they know the secret too.
To the extent that “innocence” is somehow contradicted by experience, yes. If one can undergo awareness, especially but not exclusively connected to human interaction, without “los[ing] innocence”, then: no.
In the case of “publishing”, I think there’s a “necessary” entailment of exposure to people and evil, so, to me, the former condition obtains.
Kristen would want to be more specific about “innocence”, eh? –so that the “necess[ity]” of its “loss” would (or could) be clearer.
No, I don’t dispute or look down on those ‘first flushes’ whenever they occur, though I think that, at some point, one might become a little, eh, wry about one’s own re-inventions of wheels or entries into crowded magical kingdoms.
How does “publishing” entail a “loss of innocence” specific or particular to it? –Maybe, if publishing has a “certain” loss of innocence connected to it, that loss stems from whatever is particular to publishing itself.
I think it has to do with seeing writing as a business, versus that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ideal we start out with. It’s a business, and you’re going to get fucked one way or another. You have to sort of harden your heart, which is a very un-innocent thing to do. Don’t you think?
No, no, no…. Actually, maybe poubellication doesn’t harden a heart, but its ruses help you to know whose judgment to trust. Once it’s out there, people may talk or comment, etc. But you find work you love, and the people whose work you love are often good critics of yours. And if they’re willing to engage with your work critically…. (Still I cringe at some of what I’ve published.) #NewSincerity
No, I don’t think money has much to do with it for me, a poet. But there’s the currency of acceptance and rejection at play. You put your heart/mind into a thing that gets put into the world and you have to contend with the fruits of your labor; the “payment” for your services being the reaction to the work, whether by editors or the public…
Well, yes; had one thought that a piece should be popular, or approved of in some other way, and it’s not, then that learning of what one’s writing honestly ‘looks like’ to other people might be (or at least feel like) a “loss of innocence”. This sense sounds to me close to “innocence” being another word for ‘delusion’, “los[ing]” which might be a Pretty Good Thing.
There’s another sense you might be referring to obliquely, where “acceptance and rejection” are tools for people to gratify themselves with at what they suppose is one’s expense. In this case, the quality of the writing wouldn’t even be being assessed; the thumbs-up/thumbs-down would have to do with perceived vulnerability, gain/loss to an enemy, and such Sun Tzu, game theory, MBA crap. –To me, finding these, eh, priorities in other people might be a kind of “loss”, but is still a Pretty Good Thing to know about the human world. Also, it seems to me that most people are exposed to this kind of social modality earlier in life than writerly ambition blossoms in them.
You mentioned “business” above, and I’d thought of the to-me dreary mechanics of contracts and such. It’s good to be rid of naivety in this regard, but, as you suggest, when you show something you’ve written to people and money isn’t really involved, something personal – to do with assumptions of, what, ‘good faith’ – is on the line for you (at least with that person, say), hard heart or not.
I guess I should chime in before deadgod does his thing — There is a certain amount of loss, and what that loss is maybe isn’t your innocence, but maybe it is. Who am I to say. You lose the buffer of, as Alexis said, secrecy. Because something is a secret you can treat it a particular way and formulate arguments to complete support yourself in a vacuum. Now, that buffer is affected. Nothing is necessary gained or loss, I guess, to correct myself, but affected.
A lot of what’s above (by Laura and Alexis in particular) pins down a lot of what I meant. Of course, ‘losing one’s innocence’ applies to almost every moment of getting older and/or gaining experience. Publishing, here, and more broadly, one’s relationship to one’s own work, is the context. (Which is to say, to deadgod, that I’m not claiming any special privileges for the innocence–>experience continuum; rather, just trying to hone in on what this looks like and means for the writer who wants to, seeks to, publish.)
I just found a notebook I kept at age 13. In it is an as-yet-unfinished 41-page story (story #3, “The Unforgettable Voyage”, in a series). I’m pretty sure I thought it was amazing. I’m pretty sure nobody else read it. I didn’t give it to anyone to read. I think I entertained some romantic fantasy of it and my whole oeuvre being discovered posthumously and hailed as the greatest sentences ever written. Blah blah, you know this one already; it’s become sort of the twee cliche of many people who write. My point is, I operated in an entirely closed system, innocent in its closedness. I was innocent and I suffocated happily.
Ugh I just had the realization that this comment could become its own boring post so I’m going to try to hightail it out of here soon. Years later, when I realized I could try to publish, choose to publish, I unwittingly succumbed, by entering an ‘open’ system, to a structure of power. (It’s called “submitting” work for a reason.) And my naive understanding showed me that editors knew things about my work (i.e., that it was bad) that I didn’t know. And that evolved, over time, into a kind of writerly adolescence: “fuck ’em.” And then, as when you think your parents are God and then you learn they are human and then you hate them a little for it and then you settle on, best case scenario, liking and even loving them for that, for all of their handicaps, because whatever’s underneath them is, in some way, sustaining, I came around again, to accepting the human error-riddled caprices of publishing, and feeling GOOD when something gets accepted, and ONLY SLIGHTLY LESS GOOD when something gets rejected. Not made, not broken–at least that’s the goal.
Because I am mature (!) Because I lost that cherry (!)
I think it’s tough, if not impossible (hence the use of ‘necessary’ in my original post) to retain the sense of innocence I’ve tried to pinpoint here, while submitting your work to scrutiny, while striving to participate in that kind of public space, while desiring to ‘be chosen.’
I like what you’re saying and have been thinking about “web publishing,” the vicissitudes of that (read: there is still somewhere within me that adolescent who might say “fuck ’em” to certain editors, only because I think I place value on a sort of Hardt/Negri approach to interactive reading and writing, Bernstein’s “wreading,” maybe).
I think there is some truth to the editorial position, but editors are subjective, yes, and the good thing (!) about the post-post-hierarchical approach to reading and writing poems, stories, essays, reviews, etc., is that one can, say, publish for oneself. So there is less a loss of innocence in that (one is not really represented but simply presents work) yet also a space that feels, still, well, entrepreneurial. And then there is the truth that those of us who don’t want traditional teaching positions in writing can afford to make sense of these ways of reading and writing with a little less fear, etc. or at least not so much concern about legitimacy.
And there is always the nice feeling when a couple of people you respect notice self-published work, maybe your audience is different, &c., but you are able to somehow find a niche that is not the mainstream version of what a publication experience “feels like.” Nothing is owned, maybe responses are more genuine and less structured. I like that thought, I guess.
I wish we could submit work to the animal world, though cats would fuck us all in the end. But…dogs! We’d feel so good about ourselves. What about squirrels? They’d hoard our work. What about sharks? They’d eat our work, better than rejecting it.