Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

You've probably seen them: E-zines, newsletters and E-mail subscriber columns of writers churning out something or other they’ve written each day, week, month or year. (And, yeah, it IS possible to have writer’s block THAT bad.) As I read these writings, I sometimes sadly shake my head over the fact that the good stuff being published in these forms can now no longer be offered as an original work. I have absolutely nothing against such things – after all, a friend and fellow writer has a weekly column I’ve been enjoying for many months – but I wonder, really wonder, how they are perceived by the publishing community. Or, should I say, the editing community. Can we really say that this is a valid clip? Even though we published it ourselves? Can we really say that we’re an essayist or columnist, even though this is all limited to the Internet and/or E-mail? I don’t know. It’s something I’ve been wondering about for some time.

But I’ve been wondering about this even more today because, on this day, my second short story has been published in my E-zine. My first one ran in my own print zine, American Bard, and now I’ve published another one. In my own publication. Again.

Not that I wanted to do this; I actually hoped to get SOMEBODY ELSE to toss me a short story for this E-zine. And given that I’m on an E-mailing basis with a lot of great writers out there, it could’ve been done. But I didn’t decide to run a short story until only a couple of days ago, and that’s not enough time. So I used one of mine, the shortest one I could find. It was actually previously rejected by an E-zine of flash fiction, so I’m bracing myself for the hate mail.

But, you know, I don’t say I’ve had any short stories published. It IS something I want to get in on, and there’s even a magazine waiting for a couple of my stories that the editor requested, but I don’t call myself the author of any short fiction yet. Because I really don’t know if it counts.

This reminds me of the time in middle school, where I didn’t call myself a writer because I wasn’t published yet. Oh, sure, I wrote a sci-fi book-length story (which I later gave to my teacher) and I was writing several stories, poems, essays, articles and plays, but I didn’t call myself a writer yet. Because I wasn’t published.

At this point, I would grab my younger self by the collar and screech, “OF COURSE you’re a writer!! You don’t need to be published to call yourself a writer, because you’re writing!!” But as far as having two short stories “published”? That kind of attitude isn’t kicking in, because they were published in MY stuff. I could say that I “write” short stories but I can’t say I’ve had any published. Because, according to the publishing/editing community, those clips don’t count.

Or do they? I look at it another way: Are the writers published in my E-zine able to count that as a clip? Some of them are paid for their articles, so why not? They can say “I’ve had an article published in the Burning the Midnight Oil Book Zine” just as I can say “I’ve had a short story published in the Burning the Midnight Oil Book Zine.” Besides, any original stuff I run in there that I have written I offer later on as a reprint, because it’s already been published. So, really, why not? It counts. It’s an E-zine. Sure, I may be the editor and publisher of this E-zine, but it is STILL an E-zine. It counts. At least, to me, it does.


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