I was thrilled to participate in Periodically Speaking: Literary- Magazine Editors Introduce Emerging Writers at the New York Public Library on May 13, 08 (find the podcast at http://media.nypl.org/periodically_speaking/periodically_speaking_5_13_08.mp3)
Willard Cook, editor of Ep;phany, had invited me. Four years ago, at the Cornelia Street Café, I read a story in public for the first time. I was introduced as an emerging writer then also.
English is not my native tongue. Often, I think I know the meaning of a word when I really don't. Having been called an emerging writer twice I finally looked up the word. I always pictured a diver jumping from a spring board, doing a few twists and somersaults, then emerging from the water and leaving the pool.
How was this connected to writing? The Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines emerge /emerging as 1.come up or out into view, 2. become known, be revealed to, 3. become recognized or prominent, 4. become apparent.
When does a writers stop to be an emerging writer? When she has published a book? When her book sells well? When she gets reviewed? When she gets a good review? When she makes the best seller list? Literary fame is a fickle mistress. German writer Wilhelm Genazino wrote in his essay A gift That Fails. On the Lack of Literary Success (translated by me and published this month with Dimension 2):
What is success? What is failure? Is publication success or is publication followed by silence the beginning of failure? … Isn't literature, not belonging to a society where mere literary success does not matter at all, the biggest failure?....The names Musil, Svevo, Fleißer, and Broch stand for an interdependent pain tumbling down our cultural century with unhurried brutality. Ronald Barthes called writing “spending oneself for nothing.” There is true despair about literature’s afterlife hidden in this phrase’s mundane elegance.
I feel honored to be considered an emerging writer, honored that some editors appreciate my work and my take on life. I am glad that my friends enjoy my stories. It doesn't matter that I do not have an agent, that I have not published a novel, that I will never make the New York Times bestseller list.
Writing is foremost my solitary pleasure. I write to please myself. But I also write to communicate. I reach out to the reader to share my experiences, my thoughts and my delight in storytelling. I hope to enter into a dialogue with the reader. I respectfully disagree with Ronald Barthes.
Writing I'm spending myself for something.