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If We Hand It Over

Below is a quote from an interview with Jonathan Franzen on why it is essential to good writing that traditional publishers and editors continue to exist. This could be applied to a lot of things today, including the need for traditional denominational structures and ordination processes in churches. It also speaks to the need for isolation and meditation in a world inundated by technology.

Okay, let’s talk about those guys. What do you really think about Twitter?

[Laughs] I have a particular animus to the social-media world because I feel as if the kinds of writers I care about are just temperamentally not very good at that. Hard to see Kafka tweeting, hard to see Charlotte Bronte self-promoting. If we don’t maintain other avenues for establishing a literary reputation and finding some kind of readership – things like traditional publishers and reviewing, where the writer could just be a writer and not have to wear the flak hat, the salesman hat, the editor hat, the publisher hat – if we don’t maintain those, then we hand over the literary world to the personality types who are, I would say, less suited for the kind of work I care about.

It could be that my model of literature is simply outmoded, but I feel closer to Joyce with his ‘silence, exile and cunning.’ I worry that the ease and incessancy of communication through electronic media short-circuits the process whereby you go into deep isolation with yourself, you withdraw from the world so as to be able to hear the world better and know yourself better, and you produce something unique which you send out into the world and let communicate in a non-discursive way for you…

It’s not like I’m militantly opposed to discursive interactive communication. It’s fine, it’s great. But there’s a tipping point you reach where you can’t get away from the electronic community, where you become almost physically dependent on it. And that, I persist in thinking, is not compatible with my notion of where terrific literature comes from.

-From Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, edited by Manjula Martin, pp. 266-267


  1. I enjoy your blog posts and understand where you are coming from with this one, but request that you consider some exceptions to traditional publications. There is a lot of hype out there, especially in the electronic community. One of my posts is The Idolatry of Technology.
    I am 77, writing for twenty-five years of God’s mercy, grace and goodness, never thinking that I would publish my own work, especially in my role as a wife/caregiver. Last year I was led to publish five of our books, and two this year. Through Createspace and Kindle, I am continuing to format, and writing more that the Lord is teaching me. Profits from our books, (which are not much since I have not been actively promoting) are designated for missions and charity. My family would not know how to do what I am doing, and may not even desire to seek a publisher when I am gone. Ministers have read and reviewed some of these. Instead of spending time trying to find a publisher I will continue writing, with improvements from editing sources, etc.
    I have published only one book of fiction (short stories) and have an unpublished book of poetry; otherwise all are in the category of Christian Life and Spiritual Growth. Here is the Amazon link to our books, in case the Lord would interest you here. https://www.amazon.com/Fran-Rogers/e/B01KIPCXQKife and Spiritual Growth.
    Thank you for allowing me to comment. I pray the Lord’s blessings for your ministry in pastoring and writing. ~ Fran Rogers

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