August 2, 2010
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Interview with Judy Malloy

Judy Malloy (Uncle Roger, Its Name Was Penelope) has just published a long interview with me on the history and future of literary hypertext.

Late in the interview, Judy asked me “Do you have any advice to new writers in the field as to how to begin?" My response was long, and it’s bound to be controversial. Here’s a brief sample:

“Today's literary world is shadowed by an industry that exploits wannabes and careerists and those who covet the accoutrements of writing. Beware of those who want money from writers and avoid hollow and superficial "literary organizations"; their goals are not yours. Many contests are scams. Readings and signings are at best a marginal proposition for booksellers. Selling books is hard work; if a bookseller asks you to do a reading, try to oblige them as best you can and do your best to fill the store. Ask not what your bookseller can do for you; she has to scramble.”

“Promotion is part of the business of writing and it can be fun, but this is not where the work is done. Be wary of parties and readings and tours, and if you aspire to have drinks with famous writers, you can arrange this more easily in other ways. Do not be shy of explaining your work. Lead those you meet toward it, describe it frankly and candidly, and always accept that people are busy and not every acquaintance will find every work congenial. Seek out new people to know, introduce your work to them, and be open to fresh reactions.”

There’s lots more; Judy is an amazingly patient interviewer.