How Are You Ever Going to Learn?
December 1, 2014 § 11 Comments
It’s easier than ever before to get published, and maybe that’s a bad thing. Sure, it sucks to be on the wrong side of a portal guarded by the triple-headed Cerebus of Agents, Publishers and Bookstores slavering and barking at the dauntless New Writer. But the function of gatekeepers is quality control, and the long and tedious journey to publication also helped writers refine their work.
Many of us (me! me!) keep blogs, and it’s our daily prerogative to release our thoughts in more or less-finished states. We send out work to literary journals and commercial magazines. We go to conferences and Tweet our little hearts out to make ‘connections,’ to get noticed, to get published. Sometimes we give up, format the doc ourselves, upload to Createspace and transform into someone-with-a-book-out with the press of a button. But along the way, we can lose sight of the purpose of the journey–not just to get published, but to get good.
And how can we keep our eyes on the prize of quality work when we’re poor, hungry, and sick to death of hearing ‘no’?
At Medium, E. Stephens laments the loss of the journalism apprenticeship:
…it does seem logical and obvious that a writer who is able to spend years sharpening his or her craft, who has an editor constantly critiquing their work and helping them sharpen and polish their prose, and who has a modest amount of financial support while doing so, will more often than not produce better work than a writer with no such backing, no such availability, and no editor.
Grad school costs. Classes cost. The constant submissions, the constant rejections cost our psyche and our esteem without actually helping us get any better (when was the last time you got helpful feedback on a rejection? When was the last time you had time to give helpful feedback to an author who wasn’t there yet?).
Stephens traces the history of the artistic apprenticeship of writers in journalism, and laments the loss of that path.
Allison K Williams is Brevity’s Social Media Editor.