Publish or perish: A 2nd-grader’s perspective

Beth Mende Conny of Write Directions writes about  the publish or perish obsession writers have and how hers began in 2nd grade.

Me, age 7. A budding and already tragic writer.

One day while reading my 2nd grade Weekly Reader, I came across an article about a 6-year-old girl who had published a book of poetry. Because she didn’t know how, literally, to write, she dictated the poems to her mother. (“Yo, mom, take down this sonnet!) Voila! — she became a published author.

I don’t remember the girl’s name, I do remember thinking: “Oh no! I’m seven and I still haven’t published!”

Embarrassingly, I continued to utter those words well into my late-20s, when I began publishing steadily. Even today, I utter a variation of them: “Oh no! I’m in my middle years and still haven’t written the Great American Novel!”

If you’re a writer, I bet similar words have slipped into the conversations you have with yourself and others. Such words belong to the universal language of writers — to all creative people, for that matter. We are all waiting for deliverance.

But universal as these words may be, there is no strength in number. Ultimately, we writers stand — and sit — alone.

Sitting down to write is key. It is the only way to quiet the Muzak looping through our minds:

La-di-da. Publish. Perish. La-di-da. Perish. Publish. La-di-da.

And so I’ve learned to sit, to let the sound of my keyboard block the Muzak. And when that fails, as it sometimes will, I will stand, stretch … and sit again.

 

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