Who Cares?

Defend or die trying ???


It feels as though writers spend too much time defending what they write.

The tendency is hard to escape, no matter what genre you’re writing in. The questions creep in like shadows, stoked by The New York Times Review of Books or Salon. Isn’t the novel dying? You can’t sell a short story collection, can you? Do memoirists just have lazy imaginations? Who’s going to read your poetry? There are op-ed back-and-forths and whole craft books written about similar subjects. So many characters are spent defending or discrediting art in place of creating it.

As a creative nonfiction writer and essayist, I’ve been prodded a few times to defend the source and style of my natural expression. The most stinging and public was last summer, when a reviewer described a collaboration project I’d worked on as “suburban.” I wasn’t sure what I could do with that feedback. I grew…

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