Wednesday, April 2, 2014

4 Brilliant But Insecure Writers Published After Death #IWSG

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs.

Probably the most insecure thing a writer can do is hold back from showing their writing to the world. As long as you don't show your work to anyone, it doesn't get judged. Here are some authors who kept their manuscripts to themselves, even though the books turned out to be brilliant and are now classics of literature.

4. John Kennedy Toole - Toole was an American novelist from Louisiana who wrote a picaresque novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. Toole only submitted the manuscript to one editor, Robert Gottlieb at Simon & Schuster. They spent two years corresponding back and forth about the novel, but Toole was unwilling to make the changes Gottlieb wanted to accept it. Toole was so disappointed by his experience that he got rid of the manuscript, and ultimately committed suicide. After his death, his mother found a carbon copy of the manuscript and persistently sent it to publishers. Dunces was ultimately published and won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction...with no revision.

3. Brian O'Nolan -  In 1940, O'Nolan completed his novel, The Third Policeman. When he tried submitting it to the publisher of his first novel, they declined it. O'Nolan was so devastated by the rejection that he told his friends it had been lost, and never submitted it anywhere again. Instead, he left the manuscript in his dining room where he could look at it every day for twenty-six years until his death. His widow sent the manuscript to a publisher who accepted it, and it's now regarded as a masterpiece.

2. Emily Dickinson - During her lifetime, Dickinson was known as an eccentric who always wore white and seemed reluctant to talk to anyone. Later in life, she rarely left her room, maintaining friendships through correspondence. Some knew she wrote poems, but less than a dozen were published in her lifetime. Only after her death did anyone discover she wrote nearly eighteen hundred poems. She's now almost universally considered one of the most important and influential poets in American history.

1. Franz Kafka - Kafka worked for an insurance company, and wrote short stories in his spare time. For most of his life, he complained to all his friends that he spent so little time on what he regarded as his calling. Only a few of Kafka's works were published during his lifetime, and he instructed a friend to burn his unpublished works after his death. Instead, his friend submitted his novels and short stories to publishers, and Kafka is now known as one of the world's most influential writers.

What's the moral of all these stories? Persistence. All these writers, at some point, gave up on their dreams and kept their work to themselves. They never got to enjoy the fame and notoriety they deserved. Whenever I think about giving up and just writing for my own enjoyment (which does happen), I think of these authors and wonder what their lives would have been like if they kept on trying.

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