It’s really interesting (for me, and me alone of course) to see how my editorial tastes have evolved while reading submissions. As I have amply documented, stories and poetry about cats are difficult for me. This feline aversion began years ago, as a slush reader for a magazine where people would literally send in copies of their diaries. Â Oftentimes, these diarists would talk about their cats and there’s nothing sadder than reading an old lady’s diary perfect penmanship about her cat Mr. Mephistopheles and how he has his own parlor so I’m still suffering the effects of that trauma. It cannot be helped.
I’m developing a new intolerance–writing about writing and writers.
I have done this, more than once, writing about writers. It is very likely I will do so again in the future. There is wonderful creative writing about writing out in the world. I can’t think of a single example right now but I know it exists.
Lately though, I’ve had ample opportunity to think long and hard about why writers seem to be endlessly fascinated by writers and writing. Is it solipsism? Arrogance? A lack of imagination? Are we simply writing what we know? Increasingly, writing about writers/writing feels too self-referential, too meta, too much. There are so many occupations we could explore through our writing—fireman, astronaut, waitress, cowboy, ballet dancer, whatever—that have a lot of creative potential. Why do we (yes, I include myself) think writers, poets, novels in progress, writers’ block, readings, sex with writers, drinks with writers, feuds with writers, the love of writers, the hatred of writers, anything that could possibly involve writers, are such wonderful sources of narrative or poetic inspiration?