Sometimes, the hardest thing to hear is the best thing to hear…

I restrict most of what I write on this blog to my personal observations.  I strive not to make it about me as an editor and publisher.  I have at times, though, and today is one of them.  It’s still personal, so I encourage you to read it as such.

I was struck hard, where it counts, when I read Scott Douglass’s newsletter (publisher of Main Street Rag and many individual authors, including me) for this month, and I am both appalled and completely in agreement with Scott on what he had to say about authors who live in an ideal world of “egocentricity” that negates how hard publishers (especially those of us who are independent) work to get their writing into print and out to the public.

Today, I consider myself extremely lucky.  Almost all of the writers who submit to moonShine review appreciate the opportunities and support us greatly.  To all of YOU, I sincerely apologize for the marginal few I reference in this blog.

Scott speaks of a publisher who recently died.  And the response from many authors was concern for their own well-being—they were already abandoning the ship in favor of a someone/anyone to take on their contracts.  Granted, that is valid, but I think most of you would agree that’s way down on the list of priorities when someone dies.  Publisher Robert Bixby gave a lot of himself and that should be his legacy.  Yet, from Scott’s well-said observations, it appears the rats are jumping ship as fast as they can.  I can’t help but think if they had their minds focused in the proper perspective, the life boat would wait for them.  The powers that be recognize give and take, good and bad, wisdom over selfishness.  The rats who abandon a man’s legacy at a family’s weakest moment deserve to drown in their own egos.

I sound harsh because I mean to be.  There’s no place for absolute ego in this world of writing.  We support each other or else we all go down.  Those who think they are above the rest have yet to appreciate the network of allies they could have.  I can’t speak to all the big-name publishing houses, but I can speak to the many devoted independent publishers I have met over the years.  We all want the same thing—to give you, the writer, a chance to be heard, to show off your talents, to have credits and move beyond us to major book offers and more.  Every publisher I know is also a writer; we know, intimately, what you are experiencing.  We experience it, too.

We are also contributing our efforts every day to push your writing—in my case, through my own pocketbook because I love being a publisher so much.  I encourage and forward writers in every way I can.  I stress that moonShine review is my own volunteer publishing endeavor.  None of us, not my staff nor I, get paid to produce this journal, and I pay to produce it.  We do it because we love what it stands for and the many worthy authors and photographers we’ve published.  (I thank those who purchase, since that’s what keeps us going.)

To those writers who have submitted to moonShine review and felt “slighted” by my comments and responded with “much to do about it,” I just have to say … get over yourself.  You never have to take my feedback, but you should remember to always respect publishers’ comments and write in a professional manner when addressing anyone (email is not an excuse to rant).  I truly believe that most of the contributors to moonshine would agree I have never written an unprofessional email in response to any one of you.  How some have taken my words is another matter.  I respect every last one of the writers I have received submissions from over these past 8+ years.  I do not respect a response that entails denial of my effort or words that convey I am “obviously stupid” because they’ve been accepted elsewhere, therefore they are “perfect.”

It comes down to this: I have never been unkind (except in this particular blog), and I never mean to be that kind of publisher.  Obviously, there are plenty of publishers/editors out there who are very capable of being so.  I lament they feel the need or lost that personal connection.  For me, it’s all about the personal connection and experiencing my authors’ writings as much as my own.

My final say … give thought to this great independent network you have before you.  Don’t take it for granted.  And don’t tell us “we’re stupid” if you don’t hear exactly what you want to hear.  Don’t insult us.  DO respect this ultimate circle created that you have/can partake of.  And, you might remember, we talk to each other.  What one publisher hears from you, the rest eventually know, too.

And bless those who have passed now but endeavored to do so much … for you.
Anne
Blogger, Writer, Editor, Publisher, and more

No one is defined by a mere title…

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~ by Anne Kaylor on November 15, 2012.

2 Responses to “Sometimes, the hardest thing to hear is the best thing to hear…”

  1. Anne,
    Your message is one of great relevance in the writing world. At times, it seems that the line blurs between the reality authors and poets write from, and the one they put on the page. The resulting misdirection can take a toll that is unintended and unseen at the other end of an email or a post in our disassociated electronic communications. The written word creates a culture among those that participate in it, and they have the responsibility to remember that their actions, comments, attitudes, and expressions make that culture what it is, whether good, bad, positive or scathing. The best work is most often the product of collaboration and support, creating art that so many can benefit from. Egos should power and color that art, not smear and dilute it. Writing is primarily individual expression, but it is the community of writers, editors, publishers, and supporters that enables the art to thrive!

    • What Artists Need to Grow: Interactions With Editors/ Publishers/Etc.

      Anne, I believe your musing about the interactions between authors/artists and publishers/editors are right on track. I also appreciate the previous comment by Other Half. In this response, I’m going to focus specifically on the author/artist’s perspective, on the general intentions of publishers/editor’s comments, and on the need for proper positive reaction by authors/artists to assist them in the growth process of all their endeavors.

      As a writer and photographer, I know what it feels like to have my work (all of which is personal in one way or another) reviewed by friends and editors. Sometimes, especially when I was a novice writer, even mere suggestions on editing seemed like personal attacks on me as a person. However, as writers grow, so do their desire to improve, which requires a positive attitude adjustment toward well-intentioned comments, especially those coming from editors and publishers.

      Today, when I receive a comment on my poetry by a publisher, editor, or judge, I consider myself very fortunate. After all, they are not required to make any comments, especially when rejecting my work, but also about editing a piece of my writing whether accepted or not. The fact that an editor, etc., takes the time to comment on the piece says something special about both the editor and my piece, whether it be poetry, prose, or photography.

      As artists, it’s also our duty–and should be a mental health mantra–to toughen our skin so that well-intentioned pin pricks to our work don’t end up feeling like chainsaw wounds. Artist should first look for the positive nature of comments that could go a long way in helping us grow in our respective fields. Sure, I’ve heard of an occasional slight by a publisher/editor, but the vast majority of comments are not offered up from this calloused and egocentric state of mind; rather, they’re given through a genuine desire to aid the art and, thereby, assist the artist, whether in visual or written genres.

      Most editors/publishers/ and trusted workshoppers are not intending to slam an artist when they note an area that could use a healthy modification. It’s often difficult for novice writers and artists not to feel somewhat slighted at first, especially—as previously noted—since all artistry is personal, arriving out of our core being. Nevertheless, these writers and other artists need, for this very reason, to receive comments and suggestions with an open and objective mind, rather than as one more personal attack from the world at large.

      Growth and success as an artist requires a level of humbleness, a desire to improve regardless the cost, and a toughening of one’s skin so recommendations are interpreted as being just that, and special, rather than as personal affronts.

      Beth

      Beth A. Cagle
      Embrace Life Creatively!
      Poet-Editor-Educator-Photographer
      Senior Editor of moonShine review
      http://www.moonshinereview.com
      Writing Educator at Rowan Cabarrus Community College

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