Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Hit that mark again where my mom emailed me about the lack of a blog post. Twitter gave up on me, a while back. However, I feel like I've recovered. At least, I'm here writing this now, and I even went by and tweeted twice.

Had some interesting discourse lately, about the "thing" with writing. I post from feedback on one of my stories:

"I read "Man in a Bottle" in the Diablo Canyon event. I liked the author commentary throughout the story. Exploring character's psyches and their experiences from an internal perspective I find intriguing and builds the story with purpose beyond the action. I think the minimal action cost your story votes, however your decision paid off more in a literary sense. That is something I have done in the past, but I've been told by knowledgeable readers that is called, "author intrusion". But I still like doing it and there are many notable authors who also write in that manner."

The only new bits in this were the ones about author intrusion, a technique where an author directly and/or forcefully speaks to the reader, in an attempt to impart some lesson, or impose some doctrine. That wasn't my intent, but the final product, that is to say what a reader takes from some bit of writing, is what is used most evenly to judge a work's worth. I was glad that he got something from it. I was glad that he (finally) just sat down to read it so we could talk about it.

The other bit had to do with the phrase "in a more literary sense." I engaged in a line of questioning that allowed me to arrive at the schism that exists between large camps of authors. Some believe, generally speaking, that literature is the art of written language and that its members are artists. Coffee shop frequenting, tattoo sporting, black and white head shot cropping, sensitive, misunderstood artists. Others believe, generally speaking, that literature is a word the other group uses to make its members feel better about themselves, that word, and others. Like literary. I can't say that I belong to one or the other, but my motivation to attend grad school, I feel, is an attempt to join one group as a result of getting the kind of feedback I get from the other group (read: nothing and "huh?").

Ultimately, the question I arrived at, looking down into that schism, came about from another line the reviewer wrote later: "In the way we have structured the voting for the writing events, readers are voting more for their favorites (what moves them) rather than which work is actually the better written story." I realized, in reading that, that my outlook was different from a lot of my contemporaries. I, for instance, wanted to do good work. I strive to have everything in its place, to effectively evoke emotion, and compel curiosity, and mete out understanding. As far as content, well, I worried less about that. Honestly, I believe that specific characteristic is what people point to when they say, "you can't please everybody." I believe that a well-done piece of writing is an objective judgment. What has shaken my faith, is the wondering if such a thing is even important.

No one I've talked to since has been able to give me a clear answer. The best I've gotten so far is that a person would prefer to do good work, over work that was popular, because they wouldn't be able to live with themselves otherwise. But living with oneself is a ephemeral sort of idea, whereas living can be a harsh reality. I've heard more people, including over-hearing, say that certain books are terrible, not worth the paper they were written on. Those same books have sold more copies than ten times their number of "more literary" volumes. I just don't know anymore, and by that I mean, "Gosh, my outlook feels really stupid. What a crummy situation."

Regardless of my latest malignant stroke of ignorance, the writing continues. Chapter 13 was drafted on Sunday, and I feel good about the next handful that have been outlined. I'm not as afraid as I used to be about getting the ending right, which means I'm only mildly terrified. I know I'm going to finish, though.

As usual, I'm much more apprehensive about things I'm failing to imagine.

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