So, the culture is still there waiting to be taken. Pick up your kit and follow me, into the trenches. The advantage of a culture war is that even those of us who are old and ill can fight, and even those who don’t create can provide perspective, review and dissemination. Onward.
Over at According to Hoyt, they’re having Sunday Vignettes. The object is to write 50 words (exactly 50, if possible) on a given prompt. Today’s prompt is ‘alchemy’. My own humble contribution:
I went Midas one worse. Everything I touch is transmuted. Food turns to metal when I try to eat. The love of my life is now a lifeless statue. Everything in my house is hard, shiny, and useless.
But I didn’t even get gold.
Anybody want fifty tons of zinc?
What you have to remember about ‘literary’ is that it could be defined as ‘things that college professors will read on a train’. I.e. ‘literary’ is an aspirational mark, a mark of prestige. The book might or might not have a plot (or a prayer of making sense) but it is generally viewed as ‘difficult’, ‘prestigious’, and ‘saying the right things’, and by right I mean political and social views as a positional good, which in the twentieth century has mostly hinged on being properly LEFT. And the twentieth century persists in critical and literary analysis, two notoriously conservative (in the proper sense of the word) fields.
No one has the right not to be offended. Sometimes the thing that hurts the most is the thing you most need to hear.
Does your book suffer from a flabby middle? Well, then it’s time to take it to the gym. Make it do some stretches and lose that extra fat – can you tell what my New Year’s resolution is? Yeah.
Most of the time, the flab in the middle of the book is like the flab in your middle – stuff you don’t need but are storing because your body thinks it should be a certain weight. If you know you’re contracted to deliver eighty thousand words and you find yourself suffering from premature ending (hey, it happens to the best of us) it might suddenly seem very tempting to just start describing everything ad nauseam and with relish. You may suddenly feel a need to explain the fashions of your world or give us a lecture on alien textiles.
Do try to resist it.
—Sarah A. Hoyt, ‘May You Write Interesting Books’ (part 5)
Group-think isn’t caused by conspiracy. Conspiracy is caused by group-think.
The assumption that talent and confidence in that talent correlate is a fallacy from movies, I think. I’ve seen timid mice who would write very well, and I know — ye gods, a lot of them are darlings of the industry — a lot of braggarts I wouldn’t read if it were the only thing I had to read on a deserted island.
Also, while I AM one of the deformed souls who will come back to writing no matter what — it doesn’t mean it has to be for-money writing or even writing most people want to read. For two years I wrote almost nothing but Jane Austen fan fic. And while I don’t like what I was trained to do for a living, I probably could make a living off the furniture thing. Pros have thought I could. And at least twice I would have walked away from writing and rented a workshop, if my husband hadn’t asked me to give it one more year.
How many writers have I not been able to read because of the stupid movie cliche that “if you’re stubborn enough, you have what it takes?”
Well . . . it’s better with indie now. I have more stuff to read and can even find it. And maybe, just maybe, this whole ethos will change.