Most of us who work in publishing are passionate about books. Duh.
We are also passionate about the written word in its myriad forms and about the primacy of the creative process. Even when working with prima donna “authors,” celebrities who are barely literate, and writers of all stripes whose work should probably be hurled across the room in homage to the great Dorothy Parker, many of us are easily star struck. All it takes is a brilliant turn of phrase, a well crafted, ambitious novel, a surprising and daring narrative gambit and we’re in love.
But, most of us in the business know with utter certainty that there are books that should be shelved, put in a drawer, sent through the shredder or, in the case of the truly great writers, consigned to footnotes in fawning biographies. In this era of e-books and the voracious need for content, whatever its worth, it’s hard to defend the position that some books just should not be published. And yet, some books should not be published.
Reading this short piece in the HuffPost about “lost” early efforts by renowned authors, later found and brought out under the guise of offering additional glimpses into those authors’ psyches, reinforces my opinion that not everything deserves to be in print. My contention that someone should have told Shakespeare to put aside Titus Andronicus and turn his talents to somewhat less bloody family dramas has gotten me in trouble in literature classes as well as cocktail parties but really, would that have been such a loss?
I think all of us need to recognize, especially now when it’s so easy to self-publish, when something is not ready for public consumption and be able to move on to the next project with an eye to applying the lessons learned and producing something stronger, better…publishable. What do you think? As writers, can you make the call on your own work? Can you make the call on other peoples’? Should everything be published, the good, the bad, and the badly written?