Friday, August 1, 2008


Going Public

Ongoing efforts by frightened people to tame writing make it urgent to get a writer’s own version of reality out of the writer’s notebook and into the world.

Just as reading a work before a group can enhance the work itself and everything that follows, so too does seeing the work in print or in a full performance. This is something seasoned authors know.

But the work will be enhanced only if the production process goes forward in the same spirit in which the work is created. Many an editor or writing teacher or book or play/screenplay “doctor” has ruined works of literature by taming them, making them smaller in spirit and more conventional, urging the authors to be very, very careful to offend no one, protecting the real life models of less than perfect people who come to life in the authors’ stories.

It is essential that the writer refuse to let frightened people water down the writer’s creations.

The Point of Publishing

It is rare that visual artists do not want their work seen. Rare that musicians and composers do not want to be heard. Rarer still that writers do not want their work made public in performance or in books. Until recently the crucial book part has been increasingly harder to accomplish – because of the costs of book production and because after corporate takeovers conventional publishers are simply less interested in any literature that entails taking a risk.

But the situation is changing, like night changes into day. This is because of the increasingly more obvious need for new outlets, and more immediately because of technological changes that have made the actual production of an actual book affordable the way it never was in the past.

Affordable if you can avoid the crooks. Large scale con operations, claiming to be “publishers,” send out salesmen who claim to be editors and charge fees in the knowledge that many writers are so anxious to get into print that they will suspend disbelief and hand over their money for unneeded services. Book people know all about this, and so it should always be remembered that nothing is more likely to keep a book out of bookstores than to have the name of one of these fake publishers on its spine.

At the same time, self-publishing, which used to be considered a little too minor to count, has become so respectable as to be found now even in such places as the Frankfurt Book Fair and "Indie" publishing is light years ahead of what used to be called “vanity” publishing.

Our Role in Ways to Publish

The important thing is that if you can find a good editor and a good designer you can do some crucial things that the very best publishers did in the past. And you do not have to worry about editorial or business people who are timid or incompetent.

More and more people we have been working with in Authentic Writing™ are in the going-public phase of their personal experience writing, whether as performed works or books. We can bring first rate designers to work with the editors, who are ourselves, two authors and editors who did this professionally in the dark, pre-workshop past. And we are not alone now in following the Indie way – the way so many of the best CDs and movies, as well as books, are now produced.

The publication by Tinker Street Press in June of my AUTHENTIC WRITING, A Memoir on Creating Memoir was far more satisfying to me than anything I did with big name publishers. And this is not the only new way to go. My wife and co-director of Authentic Writing™, Marta Szabo, carried out initial publication on the Internet of her important memoir The Guru Looked Good and received far more direct and impassioned attention than is usual even with the resources of major publishers.

Since the start of Authentic Writing™ in 1993 we have had considerable success in working with people to bring their most important scenes and stories to life, and then to fruition. This seems to me the wave of our future. I intend in the years ahead, as the workshops continue, to concentrate ever more on working one-on-one with people who are ready to take their work to the public through books or that profound form of publishing that is performance.

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