>> Friday, January 22, 2010
Setting aside, for the moment, the still outstanding question: what makes "great literature"? What makes a classic? Are they the same?
For those of you who thought that was yesterday's post, I was really focusing on how hard it is to say, with certainty, that something is "crap" and the "good stuff" - at least for me. I do think the question of something being classic is a little different, but I don't want to talk about that today.
Today, I want to go back to the question I posed at the end of part one. If publications are just doing as the market demands, and clearly the market demands things that may not have depth or grammatical excellence or literary staying power. So, if what's being published is so different from what you're writing that it can't be reconciled, what do you do?
Well, that depends on why you're writing. Me, I'm writing because I have stories to tell. I would love to be published so that I could share my stories; however, if I never am, I can live with that. I love writing. I love that I have a day job so that I am able to write only things that interest me, only stories I would like to read. I have seen authors that write in similar styles, so I know it's not impossible to publish this, but I have no expectations that selling a book will make me rich and famous. And, I suspect a significant reason I have not been published is that I'm not nearly as aggressive as I should be marketing.
If it turns out I'm wrong and I'm just writing things that interest no one but me, I'll write for myself then and so be it. (Which might be why I don't market it as hard as I should).
If being published is what it's all about for you, though, you are either going to have to be a superlative marketer or you're going to have to find out what publishers are looking for today and give it to them. That might mean writing "cheap" thrillers and romances. That might mean dumbing down or sensationalizing science (as long as you're not making the science WRONG, I'll just sigh gustily). That might mean focusing on celebrity gossip.
If you do that, though, for your own self-respect, I can only advise you to make you thriler or romance or science the best you can, with a modicum of grammar and at least a basic understanding of language. You don't have to follow my suggestion, but it would sure make things easier for me.
But it's OK. The world needs all kinds of writing and not everyone has the leisure to write for themselves. Nothing wrong with giving people what they want. Especially if you do it well.
At least that's what I think.