Questions For Young Writers


Are you writing? Or have you been apprehended by the repeated presence of “writer” and its history? Is Rob Epstein’s Howl (2010) the reason you write? Does having a reason to write make you feel more like a “writer?” Why are you so impatient? Why are you so damn impatient? If your friend started an online lit journal and offered to publish your work only because you are the friend and this would be your first publication, do you still feel as though your work has something to say? Did you get anything published when you were 18 and now you feel embarrassed because it reads like nothing you currently write? Why were you in such a hurry? Why should you feel embarrassed? Don’t you think it’s funny to share embarrassing moments? Why should no one think you’re capable of making a mistake? Are you plagued with competing proximities within (what might feel like at times) an onslaught of online journals and blogs and meme culture and vlogs—literary ideologies circling you faster and faster with charisma smiles or gimmick-trolling? Do you think there’s anything wrong with a gimmick? Do you think you should post an article on your blog about why a book you just read is “so crappy” without justifying said crappiness? Do you have a reputation as a copycat writer? And how does that make you feel? Are you happy? And isn’t self-delight most important? Do you believe that? Does a daily bombardment of imagery in the media pressure you to simplify your work? Do you think there’s anything wrong with simplifying your work? Don’t you think simplification can still result in difficult writing? Do you think every writer should be striving to make work that is difficult or not entirely accessible to mass audiences? Is difficult writing like experimental writing? Do you feel comfortable reacting to the work of another? Have you read enough to react? How do you know? How do you know when you’ve read “enough?” Do you think you can only be serious or only be funny? Do you think like a binarian? Do you just want to get noticed? Do you want to do anything you can to get noticed? What if you get noticed too quickly and cannot provide the well-articulated opinions your readers might be expecting? Do you think a writer has to be articulate? Do you just want to be the next-big-thing? Do you think it’s important to be famous? Do you just want to be the next Great American Author? Do you want to shout it from the rooftops? Do you think an Intro Creative Writing course should open with DFW’s “Death Is Not The End” and do you think the instructor should ask each student (upon completion of the text) if s/he thinks s/he knows why s/he wants to write? Do you think writers should construct hierarchies around other writers? Are you afraid of ideals? Have you tried parasitically latching onto older and more well-known writers in hopes of increased blog-traffic? Did it work? Did it result in public embarrassment? Do you regret sharing that opinion in a public forum on the Internet? Are you afraid to learn something new about yourself? Must writers present themselves as deities? Or believe themselves to be deities? Is there nothing appealing about the human that occasionally fails? Don’t you think we should all occasionally fail? Don’t you think we do? Are you writing to be a “writer” or can you see past that? Should you be looking ahead of social realities and our beloved institutions of art? Do you think it’s too late for rigorous analyses? Do you think there are too many rigorous analyses? Are we living our “lief” or adhering to freight-aesthetics? Do you just want to be a “writer” or do you want to write with your entrails a denouncement of arbitrary literary tradition? Do you think we should sometimes slow down? Go faster? Do you think I’m a young writer also? Do you know I’m only 22? Do you know I don’t care? Do you know I know I’m not perfect?


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image – Tom Palumbo