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Monday, November 24, 2008

My Heart Swears Often

"I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, 'To hell with you.'" --Saul Bellow

Dude, I've had to say that a hell of a lot of times, and in more than just my heart of hearts.  But still it's comforting to hear, isn't it?


Steve said...

What will comfort my heart of hearts when my comments on this blog are moderated?

vivi said...

I <3 Sual Bellow

Anonymous said...

Here's a quote from Bellow, regarding his intentions for a magazine:

... there are in fact millions of literate Americans in a state of separation from others of their kind. They are, if you like, the readers of Cheever, a crowd of them too large to be hidden in the woods. Departments of literature across the country have not succeeded in alienating them from books, works old and new. My friend Keith Botsford and I felt strongly that if the woods were filled with readers gone astray, among those readers there were probably writers as well.
To learn in detail of their existence you have only to publish a magazine like The Republic of Letters. Given encouragement, unknown writers, formerly without hope, materialize.

Sounds good, doesn't it? Course, Saul is dead now.
A year or so ago I sent a query to Keith Botsford and got a response - a request for my financial support. I replied (without the cash), still politely querying as to whether he'd like to take a look at my work.
I never heard back from him.
The contributors to "Republic of Letters" are an exclusive bunch. I sure don't belong in that company. I truly do live in the woods.
I don't even know what "I <3" means.

John Bruce said...

I agree with Bellow's sentiment, but I wonder how often he actually saw a rejection, since he presumably worked through an agent for nearly all of his career. It's a little like having a guy in a limo talk about how great it is to ride a bicycle. But that's Bellow too, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

I've seen I <3 something several times before and never quite worked out what it meant. It always looked to me like a pair of breasts being thrust forward. I only just twigged that maybe, just maybe, it's meant to be a sideways heart. Am I right? In a way, I guess that's quite similar to a pair of thrusting titties really.

Anonymous said...

Bellow is right about departments of literature trying to alienate people from literature.

Steve said...

Departments of Literature? This is sort of like Palin and dinosaurs. There aren't any departments of Literature.

The Rejection Queen said...

Hey you used the quote I had on my blog like two months ago LOL

Writer, Rejected said...

I use a book of quotations called "Daily Afflictions." If you check out my famous label you'll find a whole bunch of quotations related to the sad situation of being rejected. There will probably be lots of overlap.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of Republic of Letters. Did you?
I checked out their website, and it's my belief that they totally failed to fulfill Bellow's stated mission: to be receptive to unknown writers (those in the woods) and also attract readers who wanted work that was not from departments of literature.
I couldn't even find any submission guidelines! Mr. Botsford doesn't want submissions.
He should take that manifesto down.
Course, with the literary world so full of hypocrisy, what does another example matter?

John Bruce said...

Note how Bellow condescends to Cheever in the quote above. Well, if they're reading Cheever, maybe some of them will be ready for something better! Bellow's public persona is, shall we say, somewhat overmassaged. Compare to Steinbeck.

E. said...

Is he referring to university English departments? What the hell is a Department of Literature?

A new government bureau Obama's ushering in? Wee!

But why would those in charge of said department be intent on alienating readers and writers from literature?

Oh, I see -- it's an Orwellian conspiracy. Roger that.

In the Department of Literature where I am a student, we read Cheever. We talk about Cheever. We love us some Cheever.

Anonymous said...

I was also thrown by the <3 . At first I thought the poster was saying he/she is less than 3 Saul Bellows. That was kinda arrogant, I thought, since it implies that the poster is at least twice as good as Saul Bellow (but not quite three).

Anonymous said...

E, I gotta respect you for your unrelenting consistency. In the post after this one you take exception to my "swipe" at your being in a MFA program ("Ugh, can't you get off that freaking subject?"). And yet you're ALWAYS THERE when any criticism is made, by anyone, of the academic approach to success.
Actually, I'm dead serious about a MFA being the right path. I would, if asked, counsel a young person to get into the best program he or she could, and once there write well and make friends with influential people. Finagle your way to an interview with a visiting writer and fawn -- that type of thing. Be smart (instead of dumb): understand how the world of literary ficton functions and work it, baby.
As to whether that world produces good writing -- well, that's another question.

Anonymous said...

Just a little link that explains the "<3" emoticon (yes, is a heart):