Wednesday, July 14, 2010


An Open Response to Redleg

"You may well have passed on the next Henry Darger," said Redleg in response to yesterday's post.

Jon immediately knew who Henry Darger was; I did not and did some Googling to find out. Darger was a self-taught artist who lived in relative isolation and plastered the walls of his apartment with wild and beautiful, if controversial, art. The amazing works were discovered after Darger's death.

We get very cocky about our wired world and tend to discount any would-be authors who cannot or will not keep up with the current technology. Perhaps we do it at risk of passing over a literary Darger. I appreciate Redleg's take on this and will keep it in mind.

However, I don't think the call I received was a budding Darger. Sometimes people are just ill-informed and even lazy. We can't take the time required to tease them out of their ignorance and teach them how to write. There are ample resources available for ANYONE to learn this business. All it takes is some initiative.

I'm sure there are brilliant writers out there toiling in isolation and we and the entire publishing world will never hear about them because they don't use the Internet and they don't immerse themselves in the "proper" way to secure an agent and publisher. Like Darger, they pursue their craft out of passion, not in order to be published. We can hope that these writers will be discovered by someone who recognizes their talent. If not, their work may simply die when they do.

Thanks, Redleg, for reminding us that this work is not all slick and digitized. Fine writing is fine writing, no matter how it's done.


Vincent Rupp said...

Sometimes people aren't lazy, they just don't know where or how to start. It seems so easy for me to Google "how to get a novel published" but that may not occur to someone who doesn't rely on the Internet for most of their life. Other times, people just want a little hand-holding to make sense out of a vast amount of information.

How did the caller get your phone number? Some sort of investigation was involved. You can't possibly educate everyone about your business, but a little information and a conclusion like "Go read Book X" might help someone out more than you know.

Redleg said...

Heh heh. Sorry, I was just kidding. I think it's infinitely more likely you just passed on the next baglady yelling on the corner. But, hey, you never know, right?

elizabeth seckman said...

(Last time I comment because I am certainly looking like a sycophant!)
Darger did what he loved. And maybe his story isn't one of missed opportunity. Maybe he was wiser than us all, driven by something more valuable than money or praise.
My biggest fear in seeking publication is that I may lose the LOVE; the peace writing brings me. Maybe he didn't want to take that risk.
Oh, and how is that an agent's fault?