Thursday, February 21, 2013


There is a little column on the right side of my site and it's called news. I put news in there, but it's not really news by the time it gets there. But the latest news is that I've been lucky enough to be on the longlist for the CBC awards again this year. (Not false modesty--I like my story a lot, but really, there is a lot of luck involved, too).

But there are two sad things going on that don't get in the news column of my site. One is that the Canada Writes website seems to be full of publicists exclaiming about the importance of authors using social media. The other is that the rejections continue.

There is a lot to be said for social media, I suppose, but I am quite tired of authors being judged by their use of it. It's odd the argument even has to be made. It's always been this way, I suppose; all but the best have to sell themselves. I get it. But do we need a ton of stories about publicists saying authors should tweet?

The second one is related, I suppose. I am used to rejection. Who isn't? Every tiny motivational speech at a conference about writing aimed at those who want to write begins with a testimonial about the "successful" author papering his walls and the walls of his neighbours with rejection slips. It's a contest, it seems, where writers trot out their failures to show how low they were before the one big break. It reminds me too much of religous testimonials that depend upon the speaker hitting rock bottom before finding salvation; there is a competition to make your rock bottom lower than the previous person's.

Anyway, Hemingway said a number of good things about writing and one of them in A Moveable Feast applies now. He called himself something like a goddam phony martyr for whining about the difficulties of making a living.

I hear him. But, as the writer Ed Allen said in a workshop once when I was at USD (as he slammed his open hand on the seminar table), it should hurt.

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