(I started out aiming to write a blog about self-publishing on Kindle. This was like that Sterne fellow attempting to write a short-story about the night his main character was conceived. I got a bit lost and realized it would take me a few years to get to the point. So, I’m going to publish this as a series of blog posts. This is the first. I’ll be back.)
Many years ago, I attended an MFA program at one of those fancy schools. Fat lot of good it did me, though it was great fun at the time — actually getting to meet and talk literature with famous writers, though the fact that even they needed the teaching gigs should have told me something.
Still it wasn’t till a couple of years after graduating that I got my first legitimate publication and it had nothing to do with any connections through the program. The story happened to get picked from a slush pile for The Quarterly, a literary magazine edited by the notorious Gordon Lish. It did lead to an agent’s contacting me to suggest I submit a novel, if I had one. I didn’t. Nor did I have anything else to interest Mr. Lish.
In any case, a couple of years later, deciding I needed an actual profession, I pretty much stopped trying to write fiction and went to social work school — a decision greeted with some suspicion by my family.
“Are you doing this to help people or to gather material?” My father asked.
“Yes,” I said.
But I never gave up on the idea of writing. I was just waiting for something, and eventually it came.
I always thought, based on no evidence, that I was supposed to be a novelist, not a short story writer. I wasn’t great at concision. I needed that broader canvas. (Or as some may suspect — I am pompous and long-winded). I was certain that if I wrote it, publication would come.
I was wrong.