“The Woes of the Wannabe”


The prospect of publication, the urgent need, as they see it, to publish as soon as possible, colors everything [my students] do….It will be hard for those who have never suffered this obsession to appreciate how all-conditioning and all-consuming it can be.

Why are unpublished writers mocked and published writers respected, even by people who haven’t read their books or who don’t read books in general? How do members of the literary world defy this binary, and how do they encourage it?

Tim Parks grapples with these questions in a piece for the New York Review of Books‘s blog, looking at attitudes toward and portrayals of winners and losers by writers like Salman Rushdie and Alice Munro.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →