When everything ‘unique’ then nothing is. Something generic would be. When everyone is a rebel, they aren’t rebels, they’re the establishment. ‘Speaking truth to power” stops being impressive if you ARE the power, and what you’re saying is very acceptable to them.
I can seriously say none of these things are my problem. I happily acknowledge that I stand on the shoulders of giants, and I try – particularly in shorts, which I regard as a ‘learning discipline’ because they’re hard to write well, to write in the style of various authors whose work I deeply admire… and also the kind of writing I don’t do by nature. It’s a stretching exercise, and I hope it makes the novels I write better.
Larry Correia just fisked some silly prat bemoaning the fact that men, having been almost entirely excluded by the ‘rebels’, uh, the publishing establishment – which has far far higher proportions of every declared ‘Victim’ group — from gay to female — than the population from publishing it, don’t read literary fiction.
Logically, the people who choose to write in any genre are proportional subset of those who read it. Let’s imagine 90% of readers of gardening books would have some interest in gardening, at least 90% of writers of the same would love gardening, and the other 10% either fake it really well, or sell very badly. You could say the same about sailing or cooking or cycling… Nobody is shocked because the group who enjoy reading that, also produce the people who want to write about it. Mysteriously, this only becomes a problem when people they feel ought to (because reasons, like either they feel they influence or get money from, or both) don’t read it…
The problem here is you’re left with a ‘chicken or egg’ situation. They want a group that don’t enjoy reading what they’re writing to buy it and read it. The woman writing this comes up with all manner of reason (mostly drivel) why men are (or at least should be) more like women and enjoy literary fiction – almost entirely written by women. Defined by her largely as no action lots of chit-chat and emotion.
You know, it would probably be ‘speaking truth to power’ and real rebellion against their establishment, if some of these ‘literary’ writers (that I never head of most of) tried something really bizarre – even in short form. Tried to write a fast-moving action piece with no chit-chat, and no angst or emotion. Just learning how to do it, would help to make their prose better – even for their normal audience, because these skills all feed back and enrich your writing. And yes, this is not the pot calling the kettle a dark shade of ebony… I do this. Yes, action, outdoor adventure is my natural area. Male characters who like to build and do are what I am and what interests me.
So: I keep pushing myself to experiment, to try to get myself into the headspace of people and styles that are not easy for me. I’ve just been going through some of my old shorts with a view to putting them on Amazon. Most are exercises in imitating the style and story type of various authors. One was an attempt at Kornbluth (if anyone even knows who he is anymore). One was a challenge to myself to write in first person – I’d never done that, really – in the style of Eric Frank Russell – where the reader KNOWS it is all a joke, a mockery, and there is no attempt to suspend disbelief – but it is funny (this was what produced the idea of the Bolg stories). I did several pure Celtic – in the style of the ‘Son of Apple’ (which experience I then used in DRAGON’S RING and DOG AND DRAGON and the fair-folk in CHANGELING’S ISLAND. And I wrote what I still consider one of my best shorts – as a talk/emotional story between two women in a very exclusive hotel. No action, per se. Me. Rough-tufty fish-farmer writing dialogue between two upper-class women in the cool elegance of the Hotel Mirroir, with a pianist on a grand piano playing Ravel in the background.
Actually, the story stems from a woman I met. Her husband was part of (and I have no idea of his role, and I won’t say what country, except that it was one friendly to the US) some form of secret service. She did not ever know quite what he did, and sometimes he’d come home – no notice, pack and leave. She had no idea how long he’d be gone for, or where he was going. Her only clues were how big the bag and if the clothes were warm or cool. She never knew if he would come back. She lived, raised her children and stayed sane – in a manner of speaking, through that, and reached his retirement — and I don’t think he was allowed to walk across the street without her after that. He was a very pleasant but taciturn man. She… she was like fine crystal. You got the feeling the terrible pressure had shaped her – stretched too thin, and then etched her into careful patterns – but it left her on the permanent edge of shattering. That was the woman… with a man who came back. What of the partner of the one who did not? She cannot ask what has happened. She might be told something, or not… but she cannot ever tell anyone. Can you get inside her head? Can you imagine those days, turning to weeks, turning to years?
Step outside your comfort zone to write. It will make you a better writer when you step back inside it, and may even broaden your appeal.