Don’t save the best for last.

From the “Absolute Gentleman” site, Raymond Carter and Stephen Dixon are not lame writers:

Lame writers who are deathly frightened that they will never be able to produce anything remotely good again will often save their “best” stories for the best possible publications. In other words, if a publication of little note expresses interest in your work, you’ll send them a story or essay just good enough to satisfy them, while saving your alleged masterpiece for when Esquire comes calling. Writers have the right to choose the fate of their particular creations, but it doesn’t mean it’s not completely paranoid and presumptuous.
Carver never really seemed to do this. He just kept writing. Yes, it seems that he was concerned about where his work went, but never to the point of it stopping his production. There wasn’t one particular piece he held onto for dear life because he had ten or twenty in the works right behind it.
A couple of writers come to mind when I think of this. Nance Van Winckel is a writer from the Pacific Northwest and a former teacher of mine. She always told me that publication never stopped her production. She received hundreds of rejections. Yes, hundreds, because she’d constantly send her stories and poems back out (revised) as fast as they were rejected. The result: a ton of publication credits in the country’s most prestigious literary magazines and several published books.
The other person I think of is Stephen Dixon. He has authored twenty-nine novels and short story collections, and he seems to care not a bit about where his work is published. He just keeps generating new material, constantly, and is so confident in his production that he’ll allow any particular story, essay, or novel excerpt to fall anywhere: small university lit mag, major glossy that publishes fiction, fledgling online mag. It doesn’t matter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s