The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Concise Thoughts on "Literary" vs. "Genre"

A post on author Roni Loren's blog entitled The Beauty of Books: Why The Literary vs. Genre Deabte Isn't Necessary sparked this comment from me:

The fact of the matter is that what's well-written enough to be considered literary and what is popular fluff will be decided by generations after ours. "Literary" shouldn't be used to categorize and compartmentalize what we do as authors. Writers cut from any cloth should strive to be as literary as they can in their writing because they are, after all, writing books. It's like describing a genre of music simply with "pop" or " indie." These terms don't really mean anything to music as an art form, just like issues of whose literary and whose genre shouldn't mean anything to a writer. Write what you love. Read a lot of different stuff. Learn all the rules (because there are a few) and then learn how to bend them to your will. It won't matter if you write about zombies or you write about war or you write about the incoherent mental ramblings of a man on death row if what you are writing is pleasing LITERATURE. Keep in mind that the Lord of The Rings is considered to be one of the most gorgeous and well thought-out prose of this century even though its about elves and hobbits, and that when F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940, most people hadn't even heard of The Great Gatsby, his own obituary in The New York Times mentioning Gatsby only as evidence that Fitzgerald "had great potential that he never reached." So again, we do not decide HOW our book will be received or cataloged or stacked on the shelves of history. We can only control how well it is WRITTEN. And we should always want to write well no matter what we're writing.

Notice that nowhere do I say that writing what is popular is bad, nor that we as authors should run out and start writing tried-and-true trash that sells. This new breed of indie authors, especially, has to revive the standards of writing well if we are ever going to be taken seriously. We should ALL want to write as correctly and as entertainingly as possible. One of the comments on Roni's post posed this sentiment: "I can write the most genius literary piece of fiction, but if no one reads it, then it is nothing more than a glorified diary. "

I would urge us to think of the opposite. If all that's selling is shite we've shilled out to make a buck, than what good is it really doing the world anyway? If you can write the most genius literary piece of fiction, than for the love of God do it! And leave it in a diary for someone to find later, if for some reason you can't find an audience. It WILL be appreciated. Great words are always appreciated, somewhere down the line, even if their creators never see the spoils.

Just ask Edgar Allen Poe.

1 comment:

Roni Loren said...

Loved your comment, so well said. And thanks for linking to the post. Glad it sparked you to write your own. :)