I’ve been giving this much thought lately in terms of what kind of stories I’m going to be writing next. I want to start writing at a much deeper lever than I have and the last story I posted to the Writer’s group I’m in was one of those. Actually the last two…
I read some stories on the list that were emotionally transporting almost to levels of catharsis in the last month.
Could a short story help to heal a reader?
I wrote a story about losing virginity called “Once upon a time in fox fur,” that’s going to be running in the galleries. It was the comments I got back on that and the subsequent one called “The Man Eaters,” that have really made me think about the writer and obligation to the reader.
Remittance Girl has a post up today on “Writer’s Obligations.”
I really enjoyed her take on this. The last two stories I wrote were very close to bone because of the elements of truth I chose to reveal. At no time can I recall getting such critical feedback on stories. It was just unbelievable to me how a piece of writing is going to be interpreted by others, because it was different for each reader of the piece. Even in different age brackets the context was different, depending on the reader. So, several things. I decided to do my own list of what matters this morning. Mostly so I can refer back to it, myself.
#1. The writer has the obligation to tell the reader a truth. This is the writer’s truth. All Literary writers do that as part of the canon we are in.
#2. The writer has an obligation to be fearless on the page. This one is harder, especially for me. All of us are sensitive to critique? Some of the crits I got on “Man Eaters” asked: Can’t you just rewrite this, for instance: happier ending? My response was no. It wasn’t a piece of fluff. It was meant to make the reader think and think hard about things. It did. Stand by your textual assertions, no matter what.
#3. The writer has the obligation to make the reader learn. By this I mean, how did we learn language once upon a time except through other writers? I had a comment made to me once about “fancy language” — well, my response was: “I would never want to dumb down language.” If I had driven the reader to look up a new word? That’s how writers taught me once. Language is a jewel. Words are jewels. I feel it is an obligation to use the elegance of language in all its forms.
#4. The writer has the obligation to tell truths about sexuality. I come from the school that says “write what you know.” I do that every time I craft a piece. This is becoming more and more important to me because of some studies that have been done on what is happening now in terms of exposure to porn. We didn’t have access to those things in my gen. Younger gens have seen this panoply of things too early? What we had was the “sexy bits” in books. I’m sure we all hunted those out. Once upon a time.
#5. Keep writing. I’m thinking of John Steinbeck and how he started with short stories. They got bigger and bigger and longer and longer until he wrote novels. Look what “Of Mice and Men” tackled, or Nabokov’s “Lolita.” What are you going to tackle via narrative? I’m asking myself that.
I’ll be back….
ps: shoot for at least 1,000 words a day. This was 600.