Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The More They Meet, The More They Fight

Draftsmanship is like weight training. If you maintain a certain level of conditioning for long enough, you do get a little something that sticks with you permanently, but basically? If you want to be strong, you've got to work out.

I've started sketching again.

Deep breath. I've been trying to write this for months now. There were even variations where I took the various literary groupings and concepts and personified them as a couple of ninnies, and then had Honky-Tonk Sue ask them, "Well, why cain't you both be the Walrus?"

(That image drifts through my mind just about as often as the Curate's egg does -- once or twice a month, typically. Honky-Tonk Sue is one of those comics that I think I'm the only one who's ever heard of it them. Is.)

(Do I sense a little avoidance behavior?)

So there is a lot of nonsense going around about literary fiction and genre fiction and people are getting all huffity-puffity and I just want it to stop.

And maybe that's all I should say on the subject. Any more than that, and I start to lose friends and influence people to storm my castle with pitchforks and torches and rakes and such.

I'm tired of the subject, but I can't stop poking it. The blogs I've been reading have me pig-biting mad. Why would literary writers think they should or could get the kinds of audiences that Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyers get? "Why do so many people eat hamburgers when I like cooking faux bone made from desiccated eggwhite decorated with slices of bush plum gel for the marrow? Is it them? Is it the hamburgers?" Why should people who write potboilers get indignant about the idea that maybe their work is easier to do than that of people who plumb the human soul and test the bounds of language? Why should second- and third- rate fiction make it into serious literary venues, including significant anthologies of record, while second- and first-rate literary work that appears in genre venues gets ignored or even badmouthed in both literary and genre circles?

And why is everyone being so weird and disingenuous and defensive about this shit? The hidden classism of this mutual culture of rejection speaks poorly of both eggheads and meatheads. I want to take Margaret Atwood and that space whale rape story guy and bang their heads together until they love each other. And then they wouldn't write so much!

Why is there so much competition, so many writers, so many venues, and yet so little work of substance in any arena of fiction? Why are people throwing stones at each other and whining instead of working to raise the level of the game? We are at a crucial juncture in history, and our time is being recorded in the snapshots of blogs and infomercials rather than on the fully-painted canvas of crafted writing.

(He snarled, and the gap between his mustache and nasal hairs closed with a disturbing rustle.) Shut up! Shut up and write better, all of you! If you want more sales, be more fun! If you want more honor, tell the truth and destroy the boundaries of language in order to reflect the beauties and brutalities of your world! Either way, it's an improvement! Just for the love of Mike shut up and write better!

Literary, genre,
which one's right?
The more they meet,
the more they fight.
The more they fight,
the worse I feel.
So eat your beans
at every meal.

(With Apologies To Robert Loren Fleming)


Craig Dylke said...

This current "us vs. them" crap is everywhere. I'd peg it on the decline of western culture. However I'm speaking as someone currently living in Asia and watching them start to ascend.

Like the little mosasaur in the sketch. He going to develop into something bigger?

Sean Craven said...

The thing is? With social animals, picking sides is what comes first. Alas, the glory and sorrow of the primate.

And I'm going to be doing more sketches of paleontological subjects -- my hope is to get to the point where I can cartoon them fairly casually, he said, looking off into the distance.