I’ve been doing some writing for money over the last couple days, and I’m sorry to admit that it cut into my writing for free.
Ezra Pound once wrote, “[n]othing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market.”
Ezra Pound was a poet. Poets are full of shit.
Too often they sacrifice meaning for the appearance of profundity. This is a clear example.
So I spent the last two days writing for pay.
Nothing I wrote is worth printing.
That doesn’t mean Pound was right though.
Take Charles Dickens for example. Dickens was the ultimate pen for hire. Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol were all originally published in journals as episodic series. Not only was Dickens paid for every 32 pages he wrote, he altered the storylines based on reactions his readership had to preceding installments.
It’s pretty safe to say his stories were worth printing, and if Pound wouldn’t agree, that would be to his discredit.
Now, since I’ve done the poet the disservice of taking a quote of his and lambasting for it without putting it in its context — I don’t know its context — let me leave you with another, better quote of his.
“Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.“