Do you even have a choice?
I’m not sure exactly why, but I have found every single one of my careful decisions, made during five years of deliberations and reading the blogs, questioned lately.
- Style and voice
- Book length
By people who know better, know what they like, know what I need and should be using.
Okay, in some cases I actually asked. So I deserve what I got for insecurity.
But none of it has helped: I have not been able to nod wisely and say, “Thank you – that’s just what I needed.” Too stubborn. Too pigheaded. Too ME.
So I trundle on, and have the nerve to enjoy it.
Note to myself from a while back:
“It seems ‘literary’ is going to have to be my Amazon category – the other ones just don’t work for me.
Emphasize the characterization and the loving detailing of the thoughts of the three main characters, and maybe I’ll sell more.”
I’ve been fighting this. Choosing my style of writing and my voice keeps getting me in trouble with the ‘cognoscenti’ (new post on the Pride’s Children site on editors who don’t get it, but feel free to pronounce sentence anyway – and yes, the pun is intentional).
‘Literary’ can be pretentious.
Literary goes from sublime to ridiculous as a category. Many, many books have a literary quality which goes far above and beyond the words needed to simply tell the story. I would put such classics as Dune into the literary quality category – and definitely leave Dan Brown’s books out.
‘Literary’ can interfere with plot, slowing down a story to the proverbial snail’s pace to admire the local flora and fauna. With pretty words and swooping sentences. When I find myself skimming, and then skipping, large chunks of description with no greater point than ‘close observation,’ I know I’ve run into the kind I don’t like. Your mileage may vary.
The kicker: how to categorize your fiction on Amazon so readers can find it?
Literary is, of what’s offered as a genre, the closest. ‘General fiction’ could be anything.
And yet what I’m NOT full of is literary allusions, and I don’t need my readers to have a MFA degree to be able to read my writing. You may skip the more literary epigraphs at the beginnings of my chapters with relative impunity, though they’re put there for a reason. When my negative reviewer (so far) wrote in her review, “The number of quotations before each chapter was overkill – for the most part they only made sense to me after the chapter had been read.” – I did a fist pump, because that is the exact reason they are the way they are. She didn’t like it – her prerogative – but like everything else I do, it was INTENTIONAL.
I’m going to get excoriated for pretentiousness if I claim to write literary indie, and want to make a small corner for myself in literary writing, but the truth is that I was brought up (by myself) reading the classics – because that is what was available.
When I taught myself to write, I spent a lot of time with quality teachers such as Sol Stein, to learn how to give a sentence or a phrase the nuance that goes beyond writing fast.
This doesn’t mean the thesaurus is my best friend, because if most of your readers don’t understand your language, what’s the point?
Keeping this up:
For Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, I don’t seem to be doing anything different this time around. It was a long time between finishing Book 1 (PURGATORY), and being ready to revise the rough draft of Book 2 (NETHERWORLD) – almost exactly a year – but the new scenes are coming back to the same process as if I had never stopped.
This is good, because I want the trilogy to feel as ‘of a piece.’ Pride’s Children was planned as a unit, and if I had been a faster writer, would have been published as one. A very long one. But I think CreateSpace has a limit to how fat a trade paperback can be, and the three volumes in one binding would not have been a possibility.
But I have not, cannot, and will not change my voice and style – I don’t have that kind of energy or self-control. It is what it is.