Formal Folly

“He’s a great reader—I don’t think you can be a writer otherwise.” (Guy Davenport)

“We regret to inform you that your submission hasn’t been selected for publication. Thanks for sending us ‘————.’ While this work isn’t a fit for us, as fellow writers, we share in the rigors of the submission process and wish you the best.”

Where to begin? Nobody died, nobody died. Not in the making, the offering, the declining.

As for rigors, I’m not exactly expending many calories sitting in a chair, clicking a button.

I have yet to receive a proper rejection: “As fellow readers…”

“I took ‘creative writing’ at Duke, under Bill Blackburn, in a class with Bill Styron and Mac Hyman (No Time for Sergeants). The result was that I was paralyzed for years, until I saw that if I wanted to write I would have to do it the way I wanted to, without thinking of myself as ‘a writer’ (I still don’t).

The breakthrough came when I realized that I mustn’t write about anything from my own experience, or anybody I’ve known, but to work with pure imagination, and to work with that hiatus between the mind and the world in which the pragmatic always fails and the imagination has to take over.” (Guy Davenport)

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