How important to you is it to get your writing published? We’re probably all familiar to some degree with the feeling of “flow”, that creative euphoria you experience when immersed in creation, and we’re also probably acquainted with the intense (and rare) sense of personal satisfaction that comes from having created something that resembles (or even exceeds) something we conceptualized before we sat down to create it. And then, of course, there’s that very different experience: the clotted/congested sensation of ushering it into the understandably indifferent world that reacts with form rejections or silence. So do you care? Or to phrase it differently: Would you still write if there were no chance of getting your work published?
Ok, George Saunders first published in that little Conde Naste magazine out of New York City. But this was (I think) my first publication. They claim to be “Reviews from Rural America.” The last two pages are poems, and this is where I appear, with a little ditty about squirrel hunting. Mimeographed, 10 pages, 3 staples, out of Healdsburg, CA, a Misty Hill Press production. This was 1996. I can find nothing about the publication now, though I did locate a Misty Hill Press, in another California town.
I was/am happy to begin with a stapled together newsletter. There is a sort of ladder (naturally subjective) to these things, and the process of climbing makes one a more serious/less serious (not a contradiction) and humble writer. Possibly. I certainly look back now at the title and have to give a chuckle. I teach a lot of beginning writers, and many, many of them need to understand it’s a hard row to hoe. Not impossible, just hard. Some of them seem to think the writer’s life is a water slide–just chuck yourself down. Wheeeeeeee. I prefer the image of the dirt field. Here’s your seeds and your gardening tool. Start hoeing and pray for rain.
Where were you first published?