Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Successful Writer

I always like quotes about writers and writing. Here’s one from writer Geoffrey Cotterell:

In America, only the successful writer is important. In France, all writers are important. In England, no writer is important. In Australia, you have to explain what a writer is.

I only know about this quote from Bruce Holland Rogers’ excellent essay, “On Being a Minor Writer,” which is available as an Amazon Short download. His book on writing, Word Work: Surviving and Thriving as a Writer, I find to be essential if you’re at least somewhat committed to the writing life and are beyond the beginning stages of exercising creativity (though I think the book is useful to all).

Back to the quote—I find it humorous just because of preconceived notions about each of the countries and what they value. Being an American writer, obviously I find the part about America to be true and a cold bucket of water on my writing aspirations.

But that cold bucket of water only has power if I buy into the premise that only success matters, which I don’t. Of course, major success would be great—how could I argue otherwise? I believe, though, if you’re a writer, you must proceed realizing that success as it’s defined in America likely will never happen.

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