When I first met the editor, I could tell she was not happy to meet me, perhaps she wasn’t even expecting me, perhaps my friend had just snuck me into the writer’s meeting without telling her. It was becoming clearer by the minute that this was indeed the case.
“The writing industry is oversaturated.”
When this is the first sentence you can remember of a writing conversation, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of it. The editor rolled her eyes with a sigh and then proceeded to complain about how most magazines don’t pay writers anymore, that the online world has created an explosion of writing, nearly all of them unpaid, and all of them clogging up all media, dominating the attention span, and the markets. That left real writers (I assumed she meant only herself and a precious few) floundering, buried in oblivion.
She never asked me what I wrote. I wondered if I had told her I was an account manager, which was the job I had for most of my adult life, if she would have liked me, at the very least, given me a chance. At the end, we exchanged a perfunctory “It was a pleasure to meet you.” Though it was clearly the opposite.
I am aware of the harshness of this industry. The criticism and rejection—much of it well-intentioned—struggling writers and artists experience. This seems to be acceptable to many writers and editors as a crucial “rite of passage”, that writers must go through hundreds of rejections. The idea that this is the way things are, I suffered so you must suffer too is rampant. But none of this is necessary, it is simply a reflection of our society and its values.
I write to a world that has no use for me. To a world done with reading. To a world already impatient, cutting me off in mid-sentence to get to the fucking point already. To a world that is fickle and moody, that does not “get” me. To a world that regards my artistic inventions as tasteless mistakes, grammatical errors, blazing stupidity, or just plain ineptitude. To a world that would rather be reading someone else: someone who entertains them, someone who doesn’t feel sorry for themselves, someone more prestigious or famous, someone who could help them get ahead. To world that assumes I am easily quantifiable: pathetic, negative, hysterical, or bitchy, that my perspective is narrow and skewed. I write to a world that does not want me, does not see me. I write to a world that actively destroys me.
I write to a world that hangs on my every word. That delights in my voice. That follows me everywhere, wanting more of my stories, hungry for answers, meaning, ever curious and alert. I write to a world that is gentle and caring and always listens. A world full of indescribable beauty, wonder and emotion. A world of incredible sensitivity. I write to a world that cares, that wants to live freely, authentically. I write to a world that sustains and heals me. I write to a world that nurtures me.
Both passages are true.
And most of all, I write for the sheer joy of it. To capture the ephemeral, the fleeting, the elusive and the wondrous of all things normal, exotic, or unknown. Working my hardest to contain the precious power of things beyond me, striving (foolishly, ambitiously) to capture that which is beyond my control. All for that glorious moment when your creation seems to breathe, to live on its own, and take flight.
Text and pictures by M.P. Baecker
Note: I am currently on a writer’s retreat in Grünewald, so I will not be responding to comments at this time. I look forward to sharing more of my writings from this retreat with you in the near future!