– Hearing the words “writer,” “reading,” “poem,” “poet,” “the author of,” etc. more frequently than should any human regardless of his or her particular fondness, hobby, or paid work
– Ego, and reflection of ego onto others’ actions because the nature of ego is often that one can only see one’s self in another self
– The absence of self identity that seems to come along with so many of the more flagrant perpetrators of said ego, giving them even more excessive ability to flaunt said ego without losing any sleep
– Twitter and facebook feeds of writers who think about these “tools of social media” as personal sales pitches aimed at you, the “friend,” often unrelenting in their use of the terms of the 1st list item and w/o any form of layering of else that might lead you to believe they are an actual person
– “Tortured” updates on same social networks over how “crazy” today or tomorrow is going to be while editing or writing
– People who retweet Kanye West
– Kickstarter and other similar fundraising systems, which somehow have quickly become the means for acquisition of literary food stamps, even if a lot of people I like have used it to do some cool shit
– The simultaneous bent of many personalities or commentmakers to go on about how evil, ugly, mean, nasty, etc. in general negative or shitty a certain outlet is, matched with an equal to less bent of also complaining that things are “too positive” or “you forgot to include me” when said person or entity has made little to no effort to “get involved” on their own end
– How almost no writer ever has done a good job writing about what it is like to be obese
– How many writers are atheists and yet are proud of themselves as creators
– How the writers who are christian usually suck at writing
– How there are so many books now I can’t think
– How I’ve been reading so many of those books that I seriously am finally starting to get carpal tunnel from holding them up while on the stationary bike and from all this silly typing
– How I don’t quite have enough books now to build a new house out of them so I can sell the place I live in now and get out of this loft complex and live somewhere quieter
– When people don’t mention that their ‘is the author of’ refers to a chapbook, or call chapbooks books, or say chapbook out loud near me at all really
– When chapbooks cost $10 even though they might cost $2 to make most of the time
– People who “won’t read” chapbooks even tho some of them do some amazing shit a full book couldn’t really ever do
– Web magazines who have so little design skill that it actually hurts me more to not look at them than to look at them because I know the damage they are doing to all aura and yet people still submit to them and bitch about their slow response times
– Print magazines that look like they were designed in 1991 by someone who had bad taste even then
– Anyone who bitches about response times ever, usually signifying that they’ve never worked a day on the side of the editing table or even volunteering or trying to pay for the books that sit on the tables often unselling and just trying to break even and hardly reading anyway
– How proud people are of celebrities who talk about a book, like it’s some winged beast descending to kiss their face
– How at least a handful of people will hold this against me at least in a comment and think I think my shit doesn’t stink because I said any of this or that I hold myself to some other standard or that I think I’m special when really I’m just hanging out like anybody else I just sometimes will run my mouth and I like to think I have a lot of faith even when I bitch and this is all a big try
– People who pimp their social state of having or not having on either end, trying to justify lack thereof or surplus because someone has this or that or doesn’t have this or that or went here or there or didn’t or wanted to and didn’t and etc., as if anyone needs to or doesn’t need to experience anything or not anything to write a word down on paper and have it be something, as if those with money can’t think, as if those without money can’t think, as if everyone’s out to kill you because you are male female black white red candy sugar sandwich
– Gmail chat status updates that change every few hours
– Gmail chat’s winking box that goes back and forth until you click it and look at who said what even if you are on invisible and were trying to ignore the thing entirely but don’t have the balls to just log the fuck out
– People who don’t mind saying flagrant things about what other people say or do but won’t do anything flagrant on their own or outside the realm of people who will back them up
– People who think that because you made something that must mean you have to have it or you worship it or yourself for having had it or that you are out for glory in every move
– People who only ‘Like’ or comment on things when it involves something about them
– People with no sense of humor and/or who can’t laugh at themselves
– People who never get crunk READ MORE >
I spent the past year and a half of my life writing a dissertation. It is about 250 pages long and is filled with thrilling news from the land of Foucault and Etienne Wenger and other such folk. For a long time, I thought my dissertation sucked but I had to defend it a few weeks ago and so I re-read it to remind myself of what I had said and I realized that it didn’t suck. It’s not publication ready, no dissertation ever is, but I’m excited about what I found in my research.
Writing a dissertation is a strange thing. When I first set about the task, I was certain it would be easy because I am arrogant and academic-related things come easily to me and I assumed that this would be one more thing that came easily. I could not have been more wrong. Writing the dissertation was the second hardest thing I’ve ever done, as it should be. It was a miserable, torturous endeavor. I was overwhelmed by the futility of all, conducting an overly ambitious research project, tying practice to theory, writing something fewer than 20 people will probably ever read, knowing ultimately, it wouldn’t be what I wanted it to be, feeling like I was stating the obvious rather than contributing unique scholarship. There were times when I genuinely thought, well, if all else fails, I can move home and work for the family business. That literally became an option. I entertained elaborate fantasies of hanging out with my mother, running errands with her at Costco, sunning on the lanai. Those fantasies got me through the darkest days, of which there were many.
There are very prolific writers in this world. I’ve learned this because these writers seem to have a bottomless queue of writing they can submit–I’m talking arsenals of hundreds of stories or poems. I don’t mind that many writers will submit every seven days like clockwork. I’m generally excited to see what they’re going to send next and a week is usually enough time for my reading palate to be properly cleansed.
What I do mind is how oftentimes, a new submission from a writer is very similar in tone, subject matter, aesthetic, or form to a previous submission(s). I am fascinated by why a writer would send a story/other creative work that’s exactly like the story rejected a week earlier. To me, a rejection implies that something about a given submission isn’t working so probably, we’re looking for different, rather than more of the same.
June 10th, 2010 / 5:09 pm
If you have questions about writing or publishing or whatever, leave them in the comments or e-mail them to roxane at roxanegay dot com and we will find you some answers.
Most places I am interested in submitting to ask for ‘no previously published material.’ But what constitutes previously published material? I understand why editors wouldn’t want a poem or story that is already available somewhere online or in a widely circulated journal. But what if your piece just shows up in your friend’s ‘zine, which he has only made 50 copies of and gives away for free? What if he has made 500 copies? What if he is selling them? What if they are only circulated in a single city? Ultimately my question is, where is the line drawn for previously published material? When is something considered published?
If it’s been in your friend’s zine and he only published 50 copies, feel free to submit it, unless you think there’s a realistic chance that one of those 50 copies got to the editor of that magazine. There probably isn’t. The line is arbitrary.
READ MORE >
March 9th, 2010 / 5:02 pm
“Writers are frequently seen as being unworldly figures, but, as it turns out, the White House and the CIA would have been better prepared for 9/11 if they had read American novelists and dramatists rather than field reports. After the attacks, the intelligence community reportedly consulted Hollywood screenwriters about likely future threats, having spotted that movies such as Die Hard anticipated the methods and level of terrorist threat to the US, but they might just as fruitfully have called in DeLillo, Charles McCarry and Kushner.”
1. Writing is not mysterious to them, so they will not romanticize, mythologize, or idealize what you do.
One part of me—the part editing The Broken Plate and about to teach about copy-editing—is paranoid. Many magazines feel less (or no) errors are related to the quality of the publication.
Some feel like a typo in a book is a human gesture, a beautiful mole, unsymmetrical ears, the smudge in the painting, the flaw that makes the thing.
How much is on the editor, the writer?
How closely do you look at your galleys (if you get them)?
Do you have a technique to catch errors? The writer, too near, as the worst diagnostic?
War story? One time a magazine had my word “years” changed to “ears.” That smarted a bit. Years, ears…
(image by Mr. Eggers)
Mean Mondays: A play about how writers have big egos and think they are special and will never get along with each other
EXT. DAY – A VERDANT PASTURE
A group of three men squat naked on a hill, each quietly contemplating life while shitting. A spring cloud approaches from the east.
(jumps up excitedly)
I have created something beautiful! Look at my shit turd! Gaze upon its fullness! Take note of its deep color! Oh how special my turd is!
(pointing at his excrement)
Yes, I have created also! My beautiful jagged turd how I appreciate you! You are unique and different! A turd not of this world.
I too have created. My turd is small and compact.