Today I had the pleasure of opening a new magazine and seeing one of my stories inside. This is something that doesn’t happen very often — mostly, I’d like to think, because I haven’t been submitting many stories to editors recently. But there have been times I’ve had dozens of stories in circulation and none of them were published. As any writer will tell you, this is not unusual. Rejection is part of the game. It is also a rite of passage, and a highly educational process. There comes a time, though, when being rejected is nothing but a big bore. The unfortunate truth is, an awful lot of editors are absolute fools. For proof, all one needs to do is read the publications they edit.

One way around this rigmarole is for a writer to publish his own work. Owing to technology, this has become easier and easier to do. On the plus side of this equation, it is possible to read important work that might never otherwise see the light of day. On the minus side, like editors, an awful lot of writers are absolute fools, and what they write should be burned.

There is also the matter of perception. Many people think that if a writer has to publish something himself, then what he has written can’t be very good. Likewise, if a stranger is willing to usher a writer’s words into print, the writing in question gains credibility. And yet there is no end to the forgettable garbage that is published conventionally, and at a profit. There is also no end to the number of good writers whose voices not only go unheard, but who never have the chance to contribute to the betterment of the human race. This is a profound shame. Instead of writing and being read, they are flipping hamburgers, driving taxis, and mowing rich people’s lawns. In most cases, no one even knows they are writers.

Ultimately, of course, being broke and unknown is the writer’s problem and no one else’s. My own approach has been to write at all costs, and to hope that at least a small portion of what I write will demand to be heard. If it doesn’t, then it’s my fault, not the reader’s. At the same time, as a reader, I feel that those of us who still care about words should offer encouragement to writers, both financially and in spirit. We need to look beyond the stuff being sold in supermarkets, and being shoved down our throats via the major media. The profit-motive alone should be enough to make us question what is easily available.

Still, it should be noted that profit and talent occasionally do collide. The Beatles are a classic example, and over the years some truly fine pieces of writing have earned their authors a well deserved living. The current business climate, though, makes this less likely to happen. To a sad extent, publishers aren’t people anymore. They are corporate non-entities manned by frustrated and betrayed worker bees who are stuck on committees and must answer to accountants. As such, books and writers are viewed no differently than circuit boards or military equipment. Literature is the word used for brochures and sales catalogs.

Knowing this can make writing all the more difficult. And yet, strangely enough, I find the knowledge liberating. I have never needed anyone to tell me I am doing the right thing. If a publisher wants to give me a barrel of money for something I have written, as I have written it, fine. I have already earned it, and more. If he prefers to ignore my existence, that’s fine too. As a writer and human being, I exist whether he admits it or not. And that is something no price tag will ever change, or define.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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