Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Publish or Not to Publish...

In my Creative Writing class, I spend a small fraction of the semester talking about publication - the dos/don'ts, the ins/outs, the rewards/pitfalls. But the first thing I do is to ask the students a question: Why do you want to get published?

Sure, not everyone wants to get published. I acknowledge that and absolutely respect it. Publication is a personal choice. But, I guess I would offer the same question to those people, as well: Why do you NOT want to get published?

A former student of mine - let's call him Alex - approached me after class one day and said, respectfully but firmly, "I don't want to get published." This lead to a fascinating conversation. He was of the opinion that his writing (which was GOOD) would be instantly commercialized the moment it was transferred into print. That the purity of his art would be suddenly deemed impure, that he would be "selling out." I nodded, listened, and told him I completely understood. I respected his choice.

What's interesting is that 3 months later, at the end of the semester, Alex approached me after class and said, "You know, I've changed my mind. I do want to try and get published." I asked him why. He said, "Well, I've decided that what I write is personal, but important. I've decided that it deserves to be seen, to be put 'out there.' But most of all, I really want other people to read it."

Either way, to publish or not to publish, I think it's important that every writer searches himself/herself and asks that question every now and then. Because sometimes, over the course of time and our "life journey," we just might change our minds. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. I think that, as writers, when we have something important, meaningful, inspirational, share, there is no doubt that publication is the goal.