Insist on being read: be one of Vonnegut’s hustlers

The Paris Review interviews are gold mines of advice for us writers. The Spring 1977, #69 issue presents a Kurt Vonnegut interview that is an amalgam of conversations with four writers. One great take-away is:

VONNEGUT

In a creative writing class of twenty people anywhere in this country, six students will be startlingly talented. Two of those might actually publish something by and by.

INTERVIEWER

What distinguishes those two from the rest?

VONNEGUT

They will have something other than literature itself on their minds. They will probably be hustlers, too. I mean that they won’t want to wait passively for somebody to discover them. They will insist on being read.

They will insist on being read.

That line should stick with every writer. Insist on being read.

This is the other side of writing that we must conquer. We must insist on being read. And the SCWW is just the place to find aid and abetment. Use your chapter contacts. Use the chapters from across the State. Use the annual conference. Use the myriad examples presented on the SCWW web site for how to do it, like the member web sites and blogs. Use The Petigru Review.

Write as best you can, then insist on being read. Use the SCWW to become Vonnegut’s hustler.

And if, like me, you think of Paul Newman’s “Fast Eddie” Felson whenever you hear the word hustler, use that too. Good writing plus a little swagger – you’ll run the table.

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