Category: "writing"

big John

09/05/17 09:28

I was at a party Saturday, talking to a fellow writer about clichés. I said that the one that annoys me the most, in my genre, is “paradise.”

My friend Joe, a high school English teacher who was listening in, said, “But you give Milton a pass on it.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Telling a food writer friend about the book I’ve been working on for the last year, I explained that it’s not an “agony memoir.” She had never heard the phrase, but she knew the phenomenon. She said that, even in her field, publishers favor “chefs who have a drug addict past or, even better, a prison record.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

wishes

08/18/17 08:24

A poet friend of mine recently sent birthday cards to two poems of his that have been sitting at a magazine for a year.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

This week I received an email from an editor to whom I had recently submitted a piece. “This is a wonderful essay,” he wrote, “brilliantly evocative of a time and a place and a state of mind. … But, once again, we simply don't have space to publish essays of this sort these days, as we need to keep more squarely focused on events of the moment.”

I very much appreciated the editor’s thoughtfulness. Many, when they’re not interested in your submission, don’t even bother to tell you. But as gratifying as his comments were personally, they were distressing professionally. I blame the Internet and brute capitalism. In an age when readers can be counted, and views equal revenues, the most popular subjects push out everything else. And the most popular, inevitably, are the most topical. The ultimate goal of the writer – to produce work that is timeless – is now being sabotaged by the dictatorship of the timely.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

Woe to the writer working without a platform from a position of privilege.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing

I arrived home yesterday from a few days up in Pennsylvania to find a large envelope from Major League Baseball. Inside were three copies of the All-Star Game’s official program with my guide to Miami – which I thought had been commissioned for the website – on page 102. Watching the game a few hours later I had the strange and pleasant feeling of being a part of it. And it occurred to me that, even more than a prestigious magazine or quarterly, an All-Star Game program is saved for future generations.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing