An orgy of writers?

“Overcapacity has been something generally acknowledged across the writing industry for at least 10 years. In a 2002 essay in The New York Times, the onetime best-selling novelist and story writer Ann Beattie mourned the situation of the modern writer, living in a world where people are more interested in “being a writer” than in writing itself. “There are too many of us, and M.F.A. programs graduate more every year, causing publishers to suffer snow-blindness, which has resulted in everyone getting lost,” she lamented. That Ann Beattie must now compete on Amazon with a self-published author named Ann Rothrock Beattie is proof of how enormous the blizzard has become.”
From “Bail Out the Writers!” by Paul Greenberg, published in the NY Times 12/9/2008

Comment: So what! In reading this article, I had to remind myself why I write in the first place. I write, as many writers do, out of a freakin’ unstoppable inner drive to understand. Would it be such a bad thing if every single one of us tried our hand at being a “writer”? I don’t think so. In fact, it could be something resembling utopian. The idea of making money off writing is a potential perk so far away from the heart of why I write in the first place, that I can only bring myself to attempt entering the strange and complicated world that is publishing in short-lived bursts of oh, what the hell energy. I feel about that endeavor the same way I feel about the fact that as a high school English teacher I have to assign my students letter grades and participate in team-building activities in which I am encouraged to “cross-pollinate” with other teachers, but during which the entire time is spent musing on why in the hell we are doing that particular thing anyway. Since we could die at any moment, shouldn’t we spend as much time as possible doing what is meaningful? I prefer to work for a living and write to see.

 

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