Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Being the best is for motivational speakers and seven-step programs

Lately I have become increasingly aware of the controversies surrounding awards and “best of” anthologies. As long as there have been people deciding who is worthy and which texts are valued and for what reasons, there have been other people who disagree. But lately I have become more cognizant of the differing literary camps and the ongoing debates between them. I think critical debate is necessary, if only to resolve one’s own opinion. I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to recognize another perspective and see it as valid. Many have the first part down but they refuse to admit that another’s opinion has any merit. They battle on grounds of prejudice, authority and influence.

I have a friend who said something like, “what is the point of doing something if you don’t want to be the best?” It never occurred to me that as a publisher or writer, that THAT should be my goal. Sure it would be nice to win an award or get a little validation, and as a publisher I have an obligation to submit my authors’ books to award competitions, but in the end, is that what it is about? I’ve always done what I find rewarding and not worry about the rest. The book will find its audience. And to me at least, as a writer, the process is more foundational to artistic merit. Creating art is what matters — not selling it, labeling it, critiquing it, admonishing or praising it. Ego needs to be disassociated from the final work.