Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Kind of Writer You Want to Be


Young writers are often reluctant to ask for help from established writers they know.

Unpublished and unknown, these young writers can be hesitant ask a favor from a published writer who they have taken a writing workshop, or class, from.  Even if that published writer is admiring of their work.

Ask.

When your ship comes in, you can help the next boatload of young writers. 
Lamentably, though, I've seen too many young writers who want you to buy their first small press (expensive) books, to attend the local production of their plays, to go to their poetry readings—and you do, often paying full price, even when it's a stretch for you.  Then when they begin to have a career, they forget those lean years when stand-up people supported them when very few others did. And they don't help others.  They seem to have conveniently lost their memory of those struggling years.

I know such a writer here in New Orleans.  I know such a writer in New York.  I know others elsewhere. The way things go with that sort of thing, those writers may just glide through life taking and not giving back and doing just fine.  We all know justice can be fickle and arbitrary.  
Don't be one of those writers. It's a kind of betrayal to the gods who have been so good to you.  Remember how bolstering to your spirit it was to have someone on your side when you were struggling.  To have someone believe in you, often when you didn't believe in yourself--at least momentarily. 
On the other hand, there is someone like Maurice Ruffin, a New Orleans writer who is experiencing justified acclaim—and surely will experience more when his first novel, We Cast a Shadow, is published at the end of January 2019.  
Maurice consistently praises and promotes other writers on facebook and elsewhere.  He is a generous spirit and is keenly aware of his well-earned good fortune, but he does not hesitate to make the public aware of someone else’s talent. Just follow him on facebook, and you'll see. Fortunately, there are others like him.  Who understand what even a small gesture of recognition and praise can do for a young writer--much less handing that writer the name of an agent or editor.  My old friend, Charles Salzberg, in New York, is another.  He's spent a lifetime helping other writers.  I know.  I was one.
That’s the kind of writer you want to be.

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