Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Sane Response to "20 Under 40"

Because I was away, I’m only just now getting around to reading the “20 Under 40” issue of The New Yorker (so far, ZZ Packer’s is the most compelling story, though I’m suspecting it may be part of a longer work).

Beyond the work, though, are the feelings such lists dredge up, and here, Steve Almond captures it all:

“It is perfectly natural – perhaps inevitable – to dream of being “discovered” and rocketed to the top of the Bestseller list. As Americans, we’ve been trained to dream in this way.

“But the real life of a writer resides in showing up at the keyboard every day, with the necessary patience and mercy, and making the best decisions you can on behalf of your people. It’s a slow process. It often feels hopeless, more like an affliction than an art form.

“Most of us will have to find our readers one by one, in other words, and against considerable resistance. If anything qualifies us as heroic, it’s that private perpetual struggle.

“Put down the magazine, soldier. Forget about the other guy. Remember who you are.”

If you’re feeling, let’s say, “disgruntled” (nice word!), do yourself a favor and read the whole piece in the Rumpus.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.