Thursday, July 24, 2008
Literary snobbery and why I write what I write
A while back I was having a conversation with an old friend whom I have known for a quite a while. My friend is a big fan of literature and poetry and disdains what she dubs trashy fiction. She waxes on about the literary greats and the poets who line her bookshelves.
This is approximately how it went…
Friend: So you’re writing romance now?
Me: Yes I am, I found a new niche and I love it.
Friend: I couldn't bring myself to read that sort of stuff.
Friend: Well, I asked someone once about this and I think so-called writers write that stuff only because of the money.
This is about when my jaw dropped to the ground. I was speechless for a second. Then I composed myself and continued.
Me: Well, then you should not pick up that kind of stuff then.
End of conversation – change of subject.
This was a friend who I once thought respected me as a friend. Even though her conversations, I suddenly realized, are always dotted with “I’s.” Rarely does a “you” escape her lips. I started to see this person in a new light.
Now I wouldn't stoop so low as to compare genre prose to literature - they are like apples and oranges. I respect both for what they give to the world. As a "genre" romance writer, I want my readers to know exactly what I’m saying. I use lyrical language to drive my point across. I want to reach people – all people, not just those who live on their intellectual throne and look down their noses at the supposedly “ignorant” masses. I have nothing against intellectual pursuits; after all, I’m known as a major geek among friends. But this doesn’t mean that genre fiction cannot be intellectual in its own right. Just because I write in a way that’s easy to grasp doesn’t mean that what I’m writing doesn’t make one think and most especially, feel.
This is why I write what I write. It feeds my soul and fulfils my ache to express myself and transfer those emotions to a reader. I used to write poetry but although I love verse, this doesn’t totally do it any more for me. Poetry calms me down, it kills a bad moment and relieves me of temporary pain – in my case, when I write verse, it is all about me and my perception of things. Now, writing prose, writing positive romantic fiction, it is not all about me. It is about the reader . . . about the characters. It is like a blank canvas and I have plenty of room to roam around. I feel free as I type away. I come out of my shell and reach out to others through my storytelling. I write, because I want to know that what I write makes other people feel good and inspired. I write because I cannot imagine living a life without writing anymore than I can imagine a life deprived of oxygen.
Why do you write?