Girls, Visions and Publishing

"I'll tell you the truth Lila, I'm honored to be able to publish and all that. I know few people ever get the chance. On the other hand, there's a lot of sickening components to this process. It often makes me want to spend the rest of my life writing career developing handbooks for urban gardeners."

"That's not a bad idea," Lila noted, filing the concept away for later.

"First you spend many years staring at bookshelves thinking how incredible it would be to be up there with your greatest heroes, existing apart from yourself. Then you have ideas. Then, somehow, one day, you actually finish writing them down in a reasonable way you find pleasing. When I finished Crossing the Border, I thought Thank God it's finally over. I actually did it. But no, no, no and no again. You have to sell it, which can take longer than a lifetime. When it was placed I breathed a sigh of relief until the next phase revealed itself. Pre-publication. ... That's a great euphemism for endless screaming over punctuation, and no, it is not okay to have a woman in a bikini on the cover, and no, I will not be marketed as the next Lorraine Hansberry. They have to compare a Black woman to a Black woman, that's revealing enough, but then they compare a poet to a playwright. The guys in marketing probably looked through a book called Great Negroes and the only woman in it was Lorraine Hansberry.

"Anyway, years after you write the thing, it finally comes out and of course you don't like it or agree with hardly any of the things it says, but now you have to sell it, so you run around pretending that you do. The publisher, in the meantime, wants to know when you're going to have another one exactly like the first. Lila, I'm not even rich or famous. Imagine how gross it would be to have a big success. Every famous person who ever talked about the experience described how it ruined their life. But we don't listen to that, do we? No, no, no. We don't listen to that. ...And as far as making an impression on the living goes, it's my opinion that you only impress the people who already like you or don't know you and what does that mean? The ones who couldn't stand your ass before are going to like it less after. ..."

--Sarah Schulman, from Girls, Visions and Everything (1986), which is a book you should read