Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Importance of Being Published

This Guardian article tells us that award-winning author Kate Atikinson would rather not be a published writer. She says that if she had enough money, she would rather not face the critics, although she thinks that she couldn't give up writing.

I haven't had much experience in being published. I very, very much consider myself still learning at the moment. I will always be learning, though. So it is hard to tell when I have reached that standard I'm striving for... or ever what that standard is, and how to recognise it when I get there.

Right now, I submit short stories or poems to magazines and competitions every now and then. I find it a usful way to see where I'm 'fitting in' with all the other writers out there. I can hit the small press zines, and now I've started aiming a little higher. To make any money at all from my writing will be a huge bonus. And a very welcome one. I've made a little, probably enough to buy a few notebooks.

I have not had much experience in the working world. I've had two jobs. I worked for a year in retail during my sixth-form days, only working Saturday mornings. That was mind-numbing enough. And I worked full time two summers ago doing data entry. Again, mind-numbing. These bad experiences of 'real life jobs' have tainted me. I now very much resist getting a job. I am beginining to need the money, now that my last student loan installment is diminishing fast. But I'd rather be poor than sell my time for boredom and resentment at minimum pay. Graduate jobs? You have to be kidding me. They are hiding themselves well.

So, making money from writing would be ideal. But it's not all about the money. I haven't made much money from it over the past five years, and that hasn't stopped me. I simply enjoy writing.

But there's also the ego-boost that comes with being published. That's how so many small press magazines get away with not paying their contributors, and make money from the published contributors buying the copy their piece appears in. There are pros and cons to that. But that's another topic.

I would be proud to get published. Facing the critics might be harder. As Kate Atkinson says in the article, we writers are tender things sometimes. I would be interested to see how I would react to reviews and critics... But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself there.

If money wasn't an issue, would I still want to be published? At this moment in my carreer, I would say yes. Simply because if I have a story to tell, there's something compulsive in me that wants to share it. I'm one of those annoying people who have epic and vivid dreams, and insist on recalling them in tiny detail to whoever will listen.

So I put the question to you, readers. Would you still want to be published if money was not an issue, and why?


  1. Yes. The stories want readers. Money isn't really an issue. I don't know how I would do it if I didn't have a full time job (have you ever considered how much you've been paid per hour for your writing...a frightening number for me).

    As for reaching a goal, I don't know when I will. The goal keeps changing the closer I get.

  2. Just came across this quote:

    "If you do not write for publication, there is little point in writing at all." George Bernard Shaw

    Not sure I agree with that!

    Aaron, I've just finished uni and I'm dreading getting a job...


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