No, I Don’t Want to Read Your Manuscript
September 6, 2019 § 36 Comments
By Mary Sojourner
No, I don’t want to read the manuscript of your novel, memoir, musings as a favor and comment on it. No, I won’t give you a few writing tips. No, I won’t blurb your self-published book. No, I don’t want to talk on the phone with you about your book. No, you can’t buy me a coffee so we can chat about your book. You are too late.
I have been a working writer for thirty-four years. I wasn’t able to start my serious writing work till I was forty-five because I was the divorced mother (and full support) of three kids. I chose to not go into academic work because I saw what was happening to good writers trapped in hours and hours, then days and days of reading student writing, good writers who were underpaid and over-worked as faculty, good writers whose words died in that airless atmosphere of low pay and high demands.
I finally gave in two years ago, thanks to the exclusive nature of contemporary publishing, and applied to the local university and local college to teach creative writing. I was told that I don’t have an appropriate degree, despite a resume that includes eight nationally published books, years as an NPR commentator, hundreds of op eds and magazine articles, being featured at national academic writing conferences – and serving as Distinguished Writer in Residence for an Arizona university.
So, no, you who are looking for a volunteer mentor, I won’t work for free. I have done just that for at least thirty years, in the spirit of kinship, in the belief that we needed to help each other, in the spirit of revolutionary literary community principles. Now? I give to my writing.
Mary Sojourner is the author of the short story collections, The Talker and Delicate; three novels: Sisters of the Dream , Going Through Ghosts and 29; the essay collection, Bonelight: ruin and grace in the New Southwest; and two memoirs, She Bets Her Life and Solace. She has written op eds and columns for High Country News, Yoga Journal, Writers on the Range, Matador Network.