22 March 2022
Every writer hears, “Write what you know.” And what every writer knows is writing, its intricacy, weight, and solitude. As a writer building credits, I am relentless about creating and submitting my work. Week after week, I submit to literary reviews and magazines, noting various guidelines. They often include lists of subjects editors will accept. Or dismiss. Once or twice, I’ve been surprised by journals who reject pieces about writers. “We’ve read enough stories about the writing process,” they say. “Your readers are not exclusively other writers.”
True. But any well-written story will find readers. I am not a WWII vet and yet I am swept away by Kurt Vonnegut’s novels based on his war experiences. I’ve never been to a bullfight, but Hemingway draws me in like few other writers. Vonnegut’s troubled author, Kilgore Trout, appears in several of his most applauded novels. Jake Barnes of The Sun Also Rises is an American writer for a Parisian newspaper. I’ve placed two stories for publication in the last twelve months featuring writers as main characters. (Check out the latest one, Real Writer on East of the Web) Did the editors who accepted them forget their readers are not necessarily writers?
The literary world is full of stories about writers. Novels by Stephen King, Michael Chabon, and Virginia Woolf place writers in leading roles. Readers love these books for their authenticity. In their fictional worlds, the writer’s struggle is emblematic of the larger human quest to find peace and order. Hollywood relies on authors, too. Movies as varied as The Shining, Sideways, and Almost Famous are adaptations (by writers) from books about writers. Shonda Rhimes’ recent Netflix series, Inventing Anna, tells the dual narrative of an infamous con-artist and the writer who made her famous. Writers may risk seeing no farther than their own keyboards. But editors who refuse to read stories about writers chance throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
As writers, we have plenty of models for transforming our writing lives into interesting stories. Check out the lists below of the most loved books and films about writers. They speak volumes to audiences everywhere. And if you find editors who’ve already read enough about writers, submit elsewhere.
50 MUST-READ NOVELS ABOUT WRITERS
Sam Burt Jun 19, 2018