Friday, October 29, 2010

Two Fisted Critique

I submitted several more chapters of my novel THE EDGE to the Moosemeat writer’s group last night with generally negative results. Again, the pulpy tone seems to put most people off. In fact, it seems to make some members of the group downright angry. Strangely, the member who reads the most pulp-style material seems to be the most negative toward the piece, which I confess perplexes me more than a little bit.

A great deal of the critique time seems to be spent on suggesting that the piece can only be made worthy by pushing further away from, or attempting to transcend the pulpy themes and prose.

I know that most of the members are really trying to urge me toward the best possible result I can attain, and I truly appreciate their time and efforts. However, their help always seems to be subtly predicated on the assumption that the genre itself is fundamentally flawed. That’s tough for me because I simply don’t agree with that position. Several ‘Meaters have made statements along the lines of; “This isn’t the kind of thing I’d ever read on my own.” Hey, I could say the same thing about much of the work I read there from other members, but I usually don’t. 

To be fair, a few members of the group did offer a mostly positive response. I award my eternal gratitude to those fine individuals.

I know that there are fans of this type of material out there, because I’m one of them. I certainly never have any difficulty finding similar stories in the bookstores. Someone must be reading this stuff!

The heartbreaking thing is, when I read my story, I really get a great deal of joy out of it. It would be exactly the sort of thing I’d like reading. I don’t think my book is perfect by any means, but all I’m really trying for is a fun read.

I guess maybe I’m asking for it by aiming that low.

It isn’t that I don’t want to write at the top of my game, and it isn’t that I believe that a more thoughtful or “literary” piece is forever outside my abilities. (Though it may be.) For me, it’s more about taking things in bite-sized chunks. This is my first novel, and I thought my best bet for any kind of success was to choose a style I’m familiar with and enjoy reading. Then find a workable premise and just try and fulfill the basic requirements of the genre.

I wonder; is that a flawed approach?

Must a writer always aim for elegant prose, deep significance and sublime transcendence?

Perhaps they should.

Perhaps by aiming low I doom myself to mediocrity.


  1. Aww man, I feel so bad as one of the Moosey types putting you through the ringer on this piece. I would tend to agree that there's a literary bias in the group and that can be hard to get around. Hang in there though and keep pushing through. I've had some thoughts about the piece (not harsh ones) that I'll send you personally.

  2. Nothing to feel bad about Heavy. I definitely want honest comments.

    As I mentioned to someone else recently, I think I got a bit overwhelmed with comments on my novel because I went through three critiques on ii in a relatively short time.

    With a short story, you take your medicine one time, incorporate what suggestion you deem relevant, toss out the rest, and move on. With this, the comments piled up in rather intimidating numbers, and left me feeling that there was little of value left in the thing.

    Someone in the group took exception to almost everything in the story!

    Anyway, I think I'm ready to jump back into it.