Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Instinctive or Analytical?

In politics one can see the difference in leadership style between Sarah Palin and President Obama, one who embodies the instinctive, the other the analytical.

How does that apply to literature?

Writing talent, real talent, is instinctive, then needs to be harnessed. The danger is that the writer become too careful, too constipated, and the spark of talent originally there be squelched. You'll never convince me that this doesn't happen in writing programs. If not, why do most MFA writers think and write in such an orthodox, constipated style?

The system with its levels of instructors, editors, and reviewers enforces literary constipation. The writer is compelled to become hyper-analytical. To become a chess player examining his position from every possible angle before making a move.

I find myself doing that with my novel-in-progress. I tear it apart in my head worse than any reviewer could. I well see what orthodox literati won't like about it. Those trained to read in a predictable manner. When I compare the novel with orthodox work-- the latest novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, say-- I see a gulf of difference. Is the problem mine; do I not approach the proper standards? Are they legitimate standards? Should I pull back from my own standards, slow down my pace, become more self-absorbed, less objective-- do all the things the system teaches and which I as a reader personally detest? That's the question.

This new e-book will be vastly more analyzed by me than, say, my last one, Crime City USA, which is instinct and emotion poured out of me. But with that analysis of the new book, I still pursue my aesthetic principles-- only I seek to make those principles as effective as they can possibly be. It will still be "pop."

If a novel doesn't look new, what's the point?

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