You should know about writer’s cuts. Because there are such things as writer’s cuts.
There was the friend who, after having been sent a story that took a year-and-a-half to craft, emailed back a single sentence, nine words of stunning efficiency that both dismissed and implicated, referencing a work of fiction I’d never heard of: “You should go re-read The Sorrows of Young Woerther.”
There was the friend of a friend who, when he learned I’d published something, asked, “Why did you do that?”
There was the former colleague who, when he learned I’d published something, asked, “What is it—some kind of vanity press?”
Those are true. Those and twenty more like them. It is impossible to be a writer, at least in our times, and not suffer writer’s cuts. They are small problems to have, good problems, relative to real ones like illness or privation, but—accumulated—they’re enough to weigh your pen down and keep it there.
Which is why, I like to think, there are such things as writer’s cures. Writer’s cures are equally small things, but the trick is to recognize the miracle in each. There’s my father, who once said to me about my writing (and because fathers are convinced, more or less justifiably, that their sons pay them mind only insofar as they acquiesce in the use of the same surnames, he cannot suspect I still remember), “Go and go and don’t give up.” There’s my wife, who on weekend mornings keeps the two Choundlings entertained so that they’ll stay upstairs and leave me an extra half-hour to write. There are the editors at The Westchester Review, who did not simply take a chance on an unknown author, but made him feel irreplaceable.
When The Westchester Review published “Come and Find,” it was my second acceptance from a literary journal.
Last Wednesday, my sixteenth story was accepted for publication. Personally that number is hard for me to believe. It is simply too good to be true. On the other hand, when I think of all the writer’s cures I’ve had the privilege of receiving, and how my writing is the product not just of my own efforts but also the luck and grace of all those little cures, it seems a lot more plausible.
The other trick is to keep memories of those writer’s cuts fresh. Because when inspiration fails, indignation is not a bad substitute.