The (Latest) Literary Canon Wars and The Thing About Writers

On this morning’s Meditation While Jogging, I could not get the subject of “The Great New York Literary Subtweet War of 2014” out of my head.

This “war” broke out last week when some guy wrote a blog disparaging a group of young women writers who were, in his opinion, not producing works that compared young male writers he admired. Some people who read the guy’s blog reacted badly to his essay. He apparently threatened to commit suicide.

I stopped reading at that point. It was just a bunch of middle-school name-calling.

Here’s the thing about writers. It does not matter that you are a woman or a man or that you are old or young or that you are white or black or rich or poor or American or not. It does not matter that you want to change the world with your words. It does not matter if you want to gain wealth, power, and fame with your words. It matters only if you have a story in your head that you need to get out of your head.

The forces described in the previous paragraph will shape a story, certainly, and may affect the way the story is received by its audience, but the most important thing for a writer is to get the story out of his or her head.

You may like the writer’s story or you may not like the story. That is not important.

The story may become popular or virtually ignored. That is not important.

The story may fade with time or be elevated to the literary canon. That is not important.

The important thing is getting the story out of your head. If you are a writer and can get that story out of your head, you have succeeded. That’s the thing about writers.

About Stephen Dedalus, Jr.

I am trying to awaken from the history of my ancestor's nightmare to comment on my Holy Trinity of Interests: art, literature, and music. Oh, and thoughts on dysfunctional families, which is to say families.
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