14 thoughts on “Karl Taro Greenfield on Being a ‘Minor’ Writer

  1. Thanks for directing us to this piece, Robert. I enjoyed it and related to it in a number of ways. One thing that Karo Taro Greenfield did not talk about were the role of tastemakers and gatekeepers in lifting up the work of some writers to the exclusion of so many others.

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  2. It’s true! I write for myself and am far from greatness. Anyone else who appreciates it is a blessing and a bonus! Though I still like to call myself “writer” if only to satisfy my obsession.

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  3. This is a great piece, Robert, thanks for passing it on…apart from anything else he references Saul Bellow and Joseph Heller..two writers that changed my expectations of literature…JIM

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  4. My question. Do writers write to become famous/major writers or because we have something to say? Fame in the arts is specious at best. I am thankful, for example, that Van Gogh — a painter, not a writer — painted. Denied fame in his lifetime, his works strike me as major/masterful. My grandfather — a minor writer not registering on any scale — made us think, laugh, and most importantly, write. What is a major writer? What does it look like — and to whom? And when? Worth and mastering tied to mass recognition has always been a perplexing concept to me. It’s like trying to win a race while looking back over your shoulder. Self-defeating. If we have something to say, we will be read. And this, I think, is major.

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    • I’d guess that most writers write simply to write, because they’re compelled for some reason. Fame and celebrity are odd considerations for most of us – so few writers achieve notoriety and/or financial gains. Success lies elsewhere, and probably is defined in many different ways.


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