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Why Publish? -- Writer's Poke #82

For Writers:

Emily Dickinson wrote over 1800 poems, but published just seven in her lifetime. It's almost incomprehensible to a modern sensibility, especially for those of us that live in the college mindset of "publish or perish."

Why publish? I think it's a valid question. Is it the need for validation? Most aspiring poets and fiction writers still subscribe to the notion that they are not "real writers" unless they publish, and therefore they send their stuff to small literary magazines that no one reads. When one accepts their work, they advertise the fact proudly. And that becomes the main end. From most, I never sense that they care if any one actually reads their work, just as long as it's published.

Having work published does more than validate, of course. It also provides a certain level of credibility that they can use to secure future publication in other obscure, largely unread literary journals.

Dickinson, arguably America's greatest poet, wrote poems without publishing. She did not perish.

Do you believe someone must publish in order to earn the designation "writer"? In your opinion what value do small literary magazines hold?

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." -- Cyril Connolly

"Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man." -- Emily Dickinson


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