|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
An Honest Profession
There was a time in history when being associated with writing for anything outside of academia (fiction, the theater, etc.) was deemed as one step below making a living as a streetwalker. Then came the golden age of the novel and suddenly writers were the voice of the downtrodden or the visionaries of the human heart. Of course, there were still any number of copycats willing to change names of characters, locations and times of settings, and a subplot or two to ride in on the coattails of those who were the headline items of their day. There were also some who started out in an intense blaze of creativity only to fizzle into the obscurity of the pulp magazines and dime novels of their time and others who made the exact opposite journey.
With the creation of the Internet and the popularity of of e-publishing we are seeing the return of the literary red light districts. There are still those in the field who are signing lucrative deals with the traditional publishing houses and some who are finding fair success with on-line publishers. There are even those who so strongly believe in themselves that they risk it all on self-publishing. Not all of these are brilliant and some that are will fall prey to the fickleness of reviewers or the market. Unfortunately there is an ever increasing field of writers who are of the, "I could have written that!" school. These are the ones churning out reams of verbiage so formulaic that, were it not for cover art (and even then not always), they would be totally indistinguishable from one another.
I am not suggesting that everyone is incapable, nor capable, of turning out a "Dracula", "The Raven", "Tropic of Cancer", or "Delta of Venus". What I am asking is that, if this has already been done, why do you want to fall in lock step? Why not read something like that and, instead of thinking, I could have written that, say to yourself, my god, he or she totally neglected this or that and it would make such an incredible tale on its own?
Better than that, look at something inside yourself and say, I really don't think that's the way that would happen or the way that character would have acted, I have felt that and it was more like this. Then take the honest YOU, add a dash of courage,and put that in a story. That is where the truly memorable tales lie. That is where developing a writer's sensibility when reading another's work is essential.
Even for creators of elaborate fantasy worlds, it is the interaction of the characters with themselves and each other that illustrate the human emotion and struggles that draw us in and make us a part of the story instead of just a passive reader. It was Frodo's and Bilbo's battle with their internal demons that made you root for them. It was Kerouac's ability to make you feel the music and smell the sweat that put you in a dim lit jazz club in San Francisco. It was Hannibal's ability to crawl inside of Agent Starling's skull that was truly frightening. It is your ability to dissect these things and learn how to make them your own and not just a clone of the original that counts.
These were stories written in genre, in fields that weren't virgin territory for any of these writers or many others who preceded them. What made them stand above was their willingness to dare to take the reader into their feelings and trust that they would believe the truth when they read it. The basis for the success of the writers in any of these cases is that they wrote honestly of their own fears, and hopes, and wonder. Anything else is as cheap as a peepshow.
I am accepting submissions of short fiction to 1200 words, poetry to 25 lines, and carefully crafted essays for the Your Work/Your Love page. No pay, just exposure. Authors retain all rights. Submit them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org . You can follow or subscribe to this blog. There are gadgets on the right side of the page for this. Love to read your comments, critiques, or questions. There is a window for those below. I respond as fast as I am capable.
In the meantime...live, love, write.
Dane F. Baylis