Old Moon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Price Tags

We all realize that "literary" markets struggle to keep publishing, that they look often to contests to help them raise their profiles. To have the funds to offer prizes, they charge entry fees. I guess that's fair enough.

My problem is that my bank account is dwindling far too rapidly because without an agent, I find fewer outlets for anything I may produce that don't require a "reading fee." There's something wrong with a system meant to support writing that makes the writer pay for the privilege of being rejected.

"Tag! I'm it--again!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

To Be Loved or to Love?

A recent article about a group of well-known novelists discussing their work poses the question: why bother to write novels at all?

Why bother to write fiction at all? It's not a new question, and it has been supplied with various answers for several hundred years, but none seems definitive, and all seem to be influenced by the times and customs when they were put forward.  Presumably only writers of fiction are interested in the answers--and poets and playwrights.

Without repeating the article's contents, the most noteworthy takeaway for me was the notion that art and love are intertwined inextricably. An artist creates in part (in part only) with the objective to be loved. The greatest artists create with the objective of teaching the readers/observers/hearers to love.

I haven't stopped thinking about that since I read it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Tricks?

There was a time when I looked forward to writing something either as a parody or "in the style of." An assignment for 18th C. Literature in college involved writing an essay as Jonathan Swift might have done. I had a ball. At this late stage, an acquaintance whose taste and ideas I admire has been pressing me to write a novel using a theme he suggests with a plot line he supplies. It's not anything like what I've done before, and I'm finding myself truly baffled as I try to figure out how to go about it.

The idea is a good and probably salable one. It's a mystery (he defines only the conflict). I can't seem to manufacture the train of events leading to the crime and its aftermath. Furthermore, he fails to understand how hard it is to make a story unless you (the writer) know the characters who will act it out. I can't get my head around the four main ones. I have thus far three versions of a beginning, complete with different names in each attempt.

Having just taken a look at a passage from one of my novels, I realized something that doubtless should have been obvious from the start:  if my style or voice or whatever you want to call it is too set, how can I hope to create people and motives from someone else's original notion?

Apart from the challenge of producing something analogous to a work for hire, I now face a question that should have occurred to me long ago:  should I try to learn flexibility again, or should I stay stubborn and loyal to what I seem to have become?

And anyone who wants to point out the old saw about an old dog and new tricks, you may keep your remarks to yourself!   ;-). It's a fallacy. You can teach even an oldster if she's willing to learn.