Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poets & Writers

Okay, so I lied. I'm back. Deal with it.

Because today, my friends, I need to vent, and vent I will.

Last year, I got an offer in the mail for a year's subscription to Poets & Writers for some insanely cheap rate. I had to send them a banana and I got a subscription, or something like that. Considering myself a writer/an aspiring writer/a guy who tries belittle people more successful than him in a pathetic attempt to boost up his own decimated ego, it sounded like a great deal. So I jumped at it.

However, the other day I was reading the recent issue of Poets & Writers which had an interview with some distinguished agent in the literary field, and by the time I was finished, I wanted throw everything I'd ever written into a giant dung pile, douse it in gasoline, and use myself as the torch that ignited it. Seriously. According to this agent, I have about as much chance of selling a first novel as I do learning to sing the soprano scores of Pirates of Penzance. It was demoralizing.

And this wasn't the first time. Often I find when I read this magazine, which advertises "From Inspiration to Publication" on the text of the front cover, that as soon as I put it down I'm searching the house for sharp objects. The articles are inundated with horror stories from the industry---bad book deals, predatory agents, the general futility of trying to sell a book these days---and interspersed with goading spreads on writers who are far more successful than 99.9% of readers will EVER be. Nothing like some gentle taunting to inspire creative work. The front cover should read "From Inspiration to John Kennedy Toole", and that's not meant to be flippant. This magazine slowly sucks out your soul through a straw.

It's an existential nightmare on each page. Yes, I realize on an existential level that everything, even the things we find meaningful, are essentially pointless; therefore, we need to embrace the struggle itself as meaningful--- Camus and boulders and hills and blah, blah, blah. I'm not that heady. I find the magazine to be a swift kick in the gonads each time I open it.

Now, I realize that it really is that difficult to get published these days. I know. The writing industry is near-impossible to penetrate, and Poets & Writers is not trying to sell any illusions. But the writing industry is also haughty, pretentious, and self-congratulatory. Don't you think there's a good reason that few people aside from practitioners of the craft, college professors, and people in the business read "literary" fiction or poetry anymore?

I'm done being a masochist. I am not renewing my subscription to Poets & Writers and freeing myself of these manacles. Maybe I'll start my own magazine titled People Who Write but Don't Necessarily Want to Be Referred to as a 'Poet' or a 'Writer' (Especially with the Capital Letters) Because We Don't Want to Seem Like Pretentious Douche Bags to Our Families and Friends. I anticipate the layout of the front cover will be problematic.

P.S. Check out the Rip Torn speech on the clip from Wonder Boys. I'd wager half the audience subscribes to Poets & Writers.


Anonymous said...

Stop your bitch'n. It could be worse. You could be laying in a pool of your own vomit after a night of Yager.


christopher cunningham said...

or laying in a pool of someone else's...

and: use a small font; good title.

Nate Graziano said...

Worse yet, I could be in a black room with a couple of longhairs coked to the gills, blasting Black Sabbath, and forcing me to drink a fifth of Jim Beam in one sitting.

Imagine if that really happened?

Mr. Phish, how the fuck are you?

CC, you can be my co-editor-in-chief for the magazine. We'll do this baby up.

christopher cunningham said...

it's perfect for me because I'm already seen as a generally pretentious douchbag.

this gives me perspective.