Friday, 20 April 2007

Questions, Answers - 1

I read a story like ‘The Ledge’ and I love; I think I can see why it’s one of the best American stories of the century, and I decide it’s what I would like to aim towards. I show ‘The Ledge’ to my girlfriend (not the world’s biggest reader) and she likes it, she gets it. 

If it’s great art or literature, does the reader need to be shown that it’s great?

OF COURSE the reader (I mean the writer/reader who is trying to learn) needs to be told, needs to understand the MECHANISM, the specifics.

It isn't that the writer/reader is TOLD it's great. Instead it's,

"Did you like this?"
"Did it move you?"
"But WHAT moved you? Why did it move you? Where and when were you moved? HOW did the author seduce you? How did s/he persuade you that these words were PEOPLE, PAIN, SEX, ANGUISH?

It isn't "accidental" it's manipulation of your psyche through symbols on a page. Some writers can do it, some can't. The question is, why do some convince and some fail?

What I mean is, if the critiquers in your group don’t recognise that a ‘great’ story is, indeed, great and the greatness has to be pointed out to them, then could it be that the problem lies in the story?"


Once upon a time I thought Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" was a pile of tosh. I could not undertand the fuss. This WANKER got a Nobel Prize? Yer kiddin me, right?

Years later, re-reading that same book I cried, wishing I had a tenth of the man's writing skill.

Most reader/writers don't READ. Many wouldn't know a great story if it bit them on the arse!

(I was like that, I still am for some stories)

I'm like it with poetry. I read "great" poems and think "What the FUCK is that all about?"

But the funny thing is, the more poetry I read, the more I read about the theory, the more I read about the art, the more I read poets talking about poetry, the more poems suddenly become clear to me.

LOOK, when you enter a large short-story competition, maybe the judge is brilliant, eminent. You just KNOW that judge will understand your writing.

Trouble is you have to get past THE READERS, and then the short-listers.

If it's a poem you are subbing, you might get ME as your reader (that's you fucked).

You have heard of "pearls before swine"? Well any great literature takes EFFORT in understanding, it takes a degree of education, empathy, experience.

That's NOT a fault in the writing.

It's easy to appeal to the masses but the level of language, insight is low. Mass appeal deals in clichés that appeal quickly and easily. It uses stock characters and stereotypes, crude, obvious trickery.

Most people don't want to LEARN. They want to be spoon-fed

Nuclear Physics. Big deal, right. Why can’t them high-falutin' scientists make it EASY?

If Joe Soap doan geddit, it must be crap, right?

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