As we were preparing this issue of The Writer, our editorial team gathered stories about craft and markets and trends and publishing. All worthy topics. After all, these coordinates are at the heart of our mission to support writers in their profession and passion for the business and art of writing. So it’s all here for you: the editorial climate for short fiction, ideas for expanding characters through food references and tips for tweeting at conferences, protecting your computer files and developing your relationships with editors. And as always, our market guide.
But I noticed a subtler theme emerging as I read the conversations between novelists Susanna Moore and Glen Duncan, and between nonfiction writer Tracy Kidder and his editor and collaborator Richard Todd, and also in my conversation with novelist Nina Revoyr. In the end, they were all examining ways of writing, but also what it means to be a writer, to live as a writer.
Ancillary to that question is: What is the writer’s life? How does it differ from the lives of others – doctors or chefs or veterinarians (all of whom, by the way, have also been writers)? We are endlessly interested in discovering the ways in which a writer sees the world – whether it’s Phillip Lopate holding forth on the quality of effective essays or Caryl Phillips warning against the dangers of reading reviews or our Facebook followers answering questions about the doors that need to open for success to show up.
I suspect we’re all here because at the end of the day, we consider writers to be a unique and stimulating breed of humans – contrarian to the core, driven to the bone. Writers are outsiders (as Revoyr and Moore were as children) and yet are drawn to the very heart and soul of human connection (as both novelists are in their work). Writers go to the page or the screen both to find themselves and lose themselves. And the readers among us follow them.
Don DeLillo put it this way: “Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”
We hope the stories in this issue help you survive as a writer. To us, that is also a worthy topic.