Monday, February 01, 2010

You know, for reasons that are already escaping me, I signed up for a creative writing class this semester. I think I already mentioned (didn't I?) that I'm not driving to the state unversity this semester, so this is just at our local community college. It (the writing class) is making me a little crazy. Nothing makes me as neurotic as trying to write fiction.

Well, OK, I admit my spouse might be able to come up with a few things that make me more neurotic than that. But we're not going there right now.

So, anyway, I am feeling the need to apologize for obsessing about this genre fiction vs. literary fiction argument that I keep coming back to, because I know that I'm the only one that's interested in it (well, and maybe cheery-O occasionally). But I can't help it. Because I have to hash it out to figure out how to write. My writing style isn't like genre fiction writing. And I don't necessarily mean that my writing style is "better"-- I can only dream of being able to write like P.D. James, for example. I just don't write that way. But I really really don't want to write boring depressing stuff, which is what literary fiction often is. So I'm having to duke this out in my own brain, which is why I keep writing about it here. And I guess that tells you everything you need to know about me: that my brain considers the distinction between literary and genre fiction something that needs to be duked out.

The good news is that I'm discovering that the distinction between the two is less prominent in reality than as it exists in my head. The class I'm taking has a definite bias toward literary fiction, and we read a story last week that could have been a sort of off-beat romance story if it had had a happily ever after ending. And I read bits of an article about Raymond Carver that said his editor had to be always on the watch to make sure he didn't succumb to creeping sentimentalism. RAYMOND CARVER. That practically made my jaw drop--it's like saying Picasso had to watch to make sure he wasn't letting photorealism into his work.

the bad news is that in the academic world, it has become almost an article of religious faith to eschew genre fiction. It seems far more pronounced to me than it did twenty years ago, when it was bad enough. From my limited viewpoint, anyway.

so. unfortunately I don't think I'm done with this, but I'll try to post about other stuff, too.


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