WRITING: and the requisite Reading

Again with the apologies for the lack of literary comment, but I have been reading, and reading, and reading. Really, that’s not just homage to Cormac McCarthy’s repetition style.

It’s mostly flash fiction, short story, and poetry, and mostly in lit journals online and at Fictionaut, but it does help curb my writing to remain away from the traditional and plodding story that I’m all too capable of setting down.

The 52/250 challenge is particularly helpful: a story a week for a year from a prompt, must be less than 250 words. To see what at least a couple dozen other writers do when handed a few words as inspiration, is wonderful–though I make sure I don’t read anyone’s until mine is done. I’m afraid I’ll be influenced by their input. Did this for the 100 Days Project as well; first finished my story, then went around looking at what everyone else had produced.

So while I haven’t gotten back into reading the novels and classics and philosophy as yet (since last summer!), I AM reading up a storm. I love the edge in some of today’s writing. It took me five years to know what edge was, ten years to learn how to write it. Still, I slide back sometimes into overwriting–not just imagery, more of the explanatory, step by step following of the character. Like white space hadn’t been invented for that very reason.

And I’m reading more poetry than normal, which is great, because poetry helps prose tremendously both in precise imagery and concise storytelling. Some of the poetry is fantastic. Some of it–and now I can more easily recognize it as amateur in the same way I can see it within storywriting–is green, meaning it rings of me, me, me, and (xxx) usually, him, him, him. Rhyming is still considered dated, yet done well, it still works. It’s harder than ever to do it well, though, because we have a tough audience that’s up-to-date and fully trained to hate it.

Genres in story are still around, but they cross borders. Obviously vampire stories have always been romance as well as horror, but now it’s becoming a trend in itself. I am getting tired of the tendency to float a story on a bed still stinking of sex. That seems to be a popular thing, though to me it would scream amateur, as it did in any creative writing classes I took and any writing groups I’ve been involved in (Fictionaut not included; not really being your typical writing group, but more of a collection of dedicated and accomplished writers.).

Something I do spend some time on is hypertext because I like it. Because I want to share it, and there’s a need to break down doors of literary sites to show them what it is, how easily they can present it, how some–not all–of their readers would enjoy it once they tried it. Little by little, even as some of the old sites close down, new sites are out there that still hold that sense of adventure and are willing to expand into the new media arena.

So I’ve had some great successes in writing this year, but it was a long haul to this point. A serious effort for ten years; a lifelong desire. After the first couple of publishing credits, it took me a while to come out of the clouds. But the ground was no place for a creative soul, and so I do seek further publishing–but not for the credits. I get a great boost from someone remarking about reading one of my pieces. That’s what it’s all about for a writer: all we need is a reader who was moved or touched or entertained enough by our words to acknowledge it.

This entry was posted in WRITING and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to WRITING: and the requisite Reading

  1. Al McDermid says:

    Hi Susan,

    I followed you here from 52/250. I wanted to comment on your statement “poetry helps prose tremendously both in precise imagery and concise storytelling” because I have found this also to be the case; even my non-fiction has benefited from my writing of poetry, particularly haiku.

    Also, might I ask, what is hypertext?

    Great site you’ve got here.


  2. susan says:

    Hi Al,

    Yes, doesn’t one medium affect another in some great ways?

    Hypertext is the linking of words/text within a work to another “page” where the narrative/poem continues. Often a choice is given, i.e., two words in a section may be highlighted as “clickable” text. This asks the reader to choose a path within the narrative that may bring him through the piece in a different manner so that the story will not read the same as if he took the other path. It’s up to the author to ensure a satisfactory reading no matter what choices are made. If you want examples, check out the stories I put together last summer here: 100 Flash Fiction Hypertexts.

    Thanks for coming by!


  3. ganymeder says:

    Nice blog post. I’ve noticed that about poetry too, that it makes you pay more attention to your word choices and rhythm. And the hypertext thing is interesting. I’d never heard of that before, but it strikes me as a high tech ‘Choose your own adventure’ approach to storytelling. I like it. 🙂

  4. susan says:

    Hi there! Thanks. Yes, every now and then I either read or write some poetry to renew its energy. The hypertext is so much fun to write because it doesn’t seal off any directions the story could take as alternative paths. Very much like choose your own adventure.

Comments are closed.