Today I received an email rejection for a short story I submitted to the New England Review. Like all of the other rejections I have received for my writing, it was form (“Dear Author…”); it went on about the high level of subjectivity in the business of publishing; and, of course, wished me the best of luck in placing my short story elsewhere. Rejection is something writers of all kinds have to get used to – it is probably the most quintessential part of being creative. But on the heels of this rejection, which seems to have bothered me the most of all those I have yet received, I wonder if it’s time for us to finally accept that there is no room for good literature anymore.
I’m not suggesting that my writing is brilliant or anything, but I know that I can write well (unless everyone that has read my writing is just humoring me). And, in fact, there are tons of writers that I have encountered that could be called brilliant in their writing, and yet they too face the same rejection foes as I have faced. While masterful works are passed up by the dozen, hackneyed books like A Partisan’s Daughter, Snow Day, and (dare I suggest) the Harry Potter series are hitting the best seller lists. While groundbreaking books are sent rejection after rejection, after rejection, books that don’t even make sense like A Visit From the Goon Squad are winning prizes by the barrel-ful. And while a lot of people may love some of these books, especially the most commercial ones, it is wholly undeniable that something is awry in the industry of publishing.
Let’s look at some statistics, compiled by Humorwriters.org :
- Only 53% of books now purchased are fiction, with only 4% of that considered literary or upmarket;
- 57% of books are not read to completion;
- 33% of high school graduates never read another book again for the rest of their lives;
- 42% of college graduates never read another book again for the rest of their lives either;
- 70% of adults in the U.S. have not stepped foot in a book store in at least five years;
- 80% of U.S. families did not purchase or read any sort of book in the 2010 calendar year; and, perhaps the most disturbing of the statistics,
- Daily, Americans spend 4 hours watching television, 3 hours listening to radio or music, and no more than 14 minutes reading magazines or news online
So, what do you think faithful blog followers? You think there’s room for good literature anymore? The answer to that is quite obvious, what is not so much is in trying to figure out just what we are to do about that.