Margaret Atwood

Justifiers and Qualifiers

The two women friends are shocked at a third w...

The two women friends are shocked at a third woman dressed as a man. But Harlequin and Pierrot are also men. From the Danish “Punch” magazine (not the British Punch), July 1876 no. 30 page 233 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel like I’ve done quite a bit of moaning and groaning here on Mrs Fringe in the past couple of weeks.  New week, I’d like to start out positive before beginning my usual obsessing musings.  While I didn’t write as much as I would have liked at this point in the month, I have worked on both my WIP and a couple of short stories.  There.  I’ve given my dear readers unicorns and rainbows, you too, can chase your tail while sorting laundry and cleaning lost bodily fluids from canines and dependents.

On to the whine portion of happy hour.  As I’ve said  in the past, I write romance (the current WIP) and literary fiction (short stories, and a temporarily shelved WIP).  None of this includes the blogging, which is another entirely different style of writing.  Everybody’s a critic.  Those who like romance,  other types of genre fiction, or even–squee–my romances, don’t understand why I write lit fic.  “Ew. Oh. It’s so dark.  Aren’t those the books where nothing ever happens?  Why do you write that?  Well, it’s not my cup of tea.”

For those who like lit fic, or even–squee–my lit fic, when they hear I also write romance.  “Really?  Why are you wasting your time with that shit?  You can do better than that.  Well, I guess it’s easy money.”

I can’t win for losing.  First of all, let me repeat, for the 8000th time, nothing in writing is easy money, or an easy path to publication.  After 40,000 years I am still, but hopefully not always, one of the unwashed and unpublished masses.  Maybe not unwashed, I bought an absolutely divine magnolia pear scented soap.

As a reader, I have a wide variety of books on my shelves.  Romance, lit fic, short stories, poems, biographies, essays, non fiction books about economics, various religions, cookbooks, thrillers, horror, mysteries, even a fantasy or two.   Some people are more focused, but I know many whose bookshelves look like mine.

Fiction Stacks

Fiction Stacks (Photo credit: chelmsfordpubliclibrary)

So why do these same people with varied titles on their reading lists sneer at me for writing two seemingly disparate styles?  Yes, the style of writing, pacing, sentence structure, word choice, these things are different.  One is more introspective and character driven, the other quicker paced and it’s true, the black moment is a lot more, ummm, navy blue.  But honestly, most (all) fiction is about exploring people, our emotions, our responses, our needs, wants, desires, connection to others, how we respond in any given situation, societal dilemmas and individual dilemmas.

I’m guessing there are slurs for every style and genre, but it feels like the two I write in are particular targets.  Romance is for frustrated housewives, girly-porn (not sure what these critics make of M/M romance, but hey), they can be knocked out in a week, blah blah blah.  And this doesn’t begin to touch the many subgenres of romance, or the different levels of “heat,” from sweet to yowza!  I like writing romance.  It isn’t easy, but it’s fun.  How do two people (or vampires, if that’s your thing) fall in love?  What makes someone heroic, or lovable, for that matter?  What makes someone with an independent, fulfilling life want to make the drastic changes necessary to incorporate a significant other and arrive at happily ever after, or even happy for now?

And literary fiction.  Sigh.  It’s pretentious, self conscious, an excuse to break the rules of grammar, there’s no plot, it can’t be literary if it hasn’t won an award, navel gazing, yada, yada, yada.  If you haven’t been following Mrs Fringe for long, let me tell you, I’m quite fond of navel gazing, and wondering why the fuck we make the decisions we do.  Yanno, the human condition.  Also, not easy to write, and for me, even the pace of production is slower than when I write romance.  Is it “fun” to write?  No, but there’s a depth of satisfaction I can’t describe, and I love it.

I wish I was like Stephen King, able to create believable, relatable characters that battle unreal creatures and situations.  I wish I was like Margaret Atwood, sculpting a marriage of poetry, brilliant prose, and speculative fiction.  I don’t have either of their levels of talent, certainly not the imaginations required.  But if I did have an imagination that leaned towards alternate realities and creatures that go bump in the night? I’d write those stories too.

Why this rant?  Because I am feeling good about working on both, I get different but definite satisfaction from working on each, but I’ve received several of  these not so sly little pinches in conversation this week.   Unknot your panties, folks.  If I’m ever blessed enough to be published in both, they’ll be in different sections of the bookstore (assuming there still are brick and mortar bookstores by then), and I’ll use a pen name for one of the styles.

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my...

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” Margaret Atwood (Photo credit: katerha)