Yesterday I got an email from a member of my critiquing group that said, after careful consideration I’ve decided to drop out. Apparently she had just started an online course designed to help her write a novel in six months and it’s turning out to be far too intensive to stay in the group. Actually, she was quite shaken with the comments she last received from her coach.
“This is so HARD!” she said.
From time to time we all have doubts about our writing. I’m slowly beginning to realise that while some of us are striving for literary excellence and some of us are actually capable of it, the rest of us just want to write a decent tale with good entertainment value. Not everyone expects a Pulitzer. I see nothing wrong in that.
Yes, finding the time is hard and sometimes finding the disciple is even harder but unless English is not your first language, technically it shouldn’t be hard to write. When my friend says that writing is hard I can only assume that her coach railed her over what she was writing. Do we want another Fifty Shades of Grey on the shelf? No, but I’ve read her stories and she’s not that bad. They just don’t qualify as literary fiction.
So what is literary fiction?
According to Wikipedia it’s ‘critically acclaimed and serious’ with a style that is ‘elegant, lyrical and layered’. I tried to explain it to my friend Sara who managed to clarify what I felt but thought too ignorant to say.
“Yah, kind of.”
I read a lot of literary fiction. 70% of it I don’t like but when I find that one book that stands out, that connects or changes my perspective, it can be profound and worth slogging towards. For entertainment I read mysteries.
So when my friend tells me that what she’s doing is hard, I think it’s only a matter of what she wants to achieve. Taking writing workshops and creative writing courses provide focus, direction and help touch up areas of inconsistency and confusion. Unfortunately they also can make you feel like an idiot. So my take home message is that, what ever you are writing, love it. Don’t worry about onomatopoeia, alliteration, poetry, word count, excessive detail or clever metaphors. Worry about making yourself astoundingly clear and the love will follow.