The Inclusion of ME
In the comments of an earlier post today, Justin Taylor referred to the concept of people commenting over and getting upset about things in relation to ‘the inclusion of ME,’ which he is dead-on right, is often a big reason anyone whines about anything in writing. Writers, by nature, are often a very self-obsessed and self-aware bunch (‘Oh cool, nice on your story coming out, I have one coming out too…’) and probably somewhat in many cases by sheer means of survival, in that it’s such a slim game already. But I also think that this phenomenon, while perhaps at least in some way bent in their own mind to keep them afloat, is not only often troublesome and awkward, but part of the reason why in the end many writers give up.
There’s no argument that to get work published over time, no matter who you are, really, (unless you’re like Salman Rushdie’s son) takes a hell of a struggle. There are a limited number of venues out there and definitely limitless folks with things they want to say, so the idea that someone should get upset or angry about receiving, say, a form rejection letter ignoring their work (no matter what the reasons they feel this happened are) is ludicrous. Sure, it stings some, but in the end, we’re really all just people in the same boat and things happen for a reason. It’s an achingly cringe-worthy thing when people take it as a personal affront, or believe there is a conspiracy against them wherein the editors only publish their friends (which, yeah, definitely happens, and probably a lot, but there are reasons for this, which I will head into after the jump…)
The reasons for this are this: people who have put themselves in the place where they can be solicited by journals or met editors often have done a hell of a lot of work to get there. You don’t end up the editor of a journal of the author of several books overnight. It takes years and years, and maybe decades, and while there are the 1 in a mil quick successes who seem to get everything handed to them, you have to realize that no matter what, they spent hours putting words down on paper the same way you did, and well, shit, took the time and effort to meet people in their ‘field.’
They probably also have a stack of rejections big enough to swim in. I know I do.
It seems too often there’s a kickback stemmed from those who feel slighted, but who, to be truthy, maybe haven’t put in as much work as they could have, or haven’t taken time to read and buy and consume the words of the journals they want to get in so badly (I mean, what percentage of submissions to journals come from people who’ve never bought an issue, I really wonder), and in the long run, if you ask me, if you aren’t getting involved and supporting other writers and doing something yourself other than just sitting in your room making up your stories, well, you don’t necessarily ‘deserve’ to have that outlet.
‘Why do these elitist fucks not love me too?’
There’s a whole idea of ‘necessity of inclusion’ and ‘social sphere’ in the game that while disgusting on certain levels, and vile in my mind in a whole lot of ways, in other ways in its expression over time just shows that you give a fuck, and comes naturally to those who are interested in writing for glory, but because they love language and words.
If you don’t care about that, if you’re just writing entirely ‘for yourself,’ if you just wanna make words and don’t care so much about buying and reading and paying attention, well, why the hell are you mad when those ‘schmantzy’ lit journals don’t acknowledge you? You should just be entertaining your hard drive or your facebook friends. You can’t have one and the other both.
And if you do care, and feel like you show that, and still feel like you haven’t gotten anywhere, well, keep going, if you want to. If you really want to, you will anyway. There’s always someone who took longer than you to get there, and some who never got anywhere at all.
Anyhow, I just wanted to stamp this kind of clarity on my posts for this week in case any of it was in danger of coming off as angry for inclusion, or concerned for the wrong reasons, or attacking those just because they’ve become known for their work. In the end, we’re floating in a boat that has enough holes stuck in it (‘the literature business’), and yet I still come in the mind that there is a lot right and a lot wrong about the whole mess, and yet it will go on.