All mixed up.

(disclaimer: post written under severe sleep deprivation.)

I think I became a writer at the right time. Right for publishing ? The right time to enter a market that so many claim is dying? When paper is to be replaced by screen? Doesn’t make sense does it? But, it is the right time for me, as a person, as a writer.

About 2 years back a mildly successful writer critiqued my first novel. His feedback: you’ll never publish this book – it’s a bestselling plot with some of the most literary prose I have ever come across. Who will read it? Who will you target? There is just no market, he said. You are all mixed up.

Hmmmm. Ok. Took that critique and stored it, wondering from time to time if he could be right.  Then I read Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden. A page turner, fantastic prose. Well, well, I thought once I realized it. Then I read Gargoyle, by Davidson. More recently, the Golden Mean, by Annabel Lyon. All of these literary page turners.

I just finished Bishop’s Man, by Linden MacIntyre. There is so much to say about this novel, outstanding and suprising, yet I’ll stick to topic.

He writes: The woman with the tennis racket runs like a deer, I thought, white teeth flashing like the froth behind the distant boat, chasing the ball with long, smooth strides. I wondered: is she married? Images resurfaced, I felt the gentle movement in my chest. It’s why the poets focused on the heart.

This is just one example in a book laden with beautiful prose.

Some pages later, he ends a chapter: He told me himself and I can still hear him: There will be lots of summers. And he was smiling when he said it. He wouldn’t have lied. Not to a priest.

Of course, I had to keep reading, yet MacIntyre scatters his thoughts and flashbacks throughout, hooking me so that I need to plow through the book to find out what will happen, yet at the same time needing to slowly relish his words. All mixed up, and it’s wonderful!

I didn’t add any links here, but these book are certainly worth reading. I can’t be the only one reading literary page turners. Two of these books I mention here won the Giller Prize, another short listed. It’s great to be in a time when literature is moving in so many directions.

I hope everyone is well. I am hurrying to catch up on all of you, yet am not succeeding – just another way I am all mixed up at the moment. Thinking of you all!

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6 thoughts on “All mixed up.

  1. Jennifer, I’m surprised that you have time to post.. But it’s great to have you back!

    I haven’t read Linden’s book but I’m sure I’ll get around to it. Myself, I prefer literary fiction. Can’t help it. That’s me!

  2. And yay for being all mixed up if this is the result!:) I’ve long felt that we can (should) only write the way we are moved to. Not that we don’t hone our craft and strive to become better writers, better storytellers, better wordsmiths–but just that we work with our natural bents, obsessions, and personal styles.

    And regarding the critique you received (and hopefully will disregard forever!): I love a page turner, but the writing has to support the plot, bring it to life. The most unusual or potentially thrilling idea fails to enthrall if the writing is terrible and clunky or trite and cliche. And vice versa, the most gorgeous prose in the world, chocked full of thoughtful, beautiful bits of philosophy and sensory detail . . . well, BLAH, if there’s not a decent storyline to accompany it and make it a novel, not just a blathering ego trip. 🙂

  3. Jennifer, I’m with you 100% on this one. A plot that flows seamlessly from one predictable point to another, is, frankly quite boring. Life isn’t like that. The Gargoyle is a prime example of “all mixed up” and it’s been enormously successful. I believe there is a market for all of us out there; it takes persistence to find it. We should always listen to our critics, and then we need to decide if their comments are valid – sometimes they’re not.

  4. Sleep deprivation is acceptable under the circumstances.
    I, male of the species that I am, have no direct experience with childbirth. But I will posit the following:
    After having created beauty you seek yet further beauty in the other aspect of your life. Your writing. Ah, to be surrounded by so much that is good is truly a blessing.
    It is really a shame that a published author would suggest that your literary prose would not fit into the publishing world. Either he is correct and everything has been diluted and diminished into BUSINESS. Or he is wrong and there IS a place for you.
    I’d prefer to believe the latter.
    Best wishes.
    H.B.

  5. Just no market? I disagree with him. It sounds exactly like the type of book I’d love to read. There’s a market for almost everything, if it’s good writing that moves forward. I think he was mixed up, not you.

  6. I just commented on my above post – perhaps I should have just made a new post…Just to say that I apologize for so much time passing without me replying to your comments. I have a laptop now that is working beautifully and hope it will now be easier to keep connected. All the best writing to everyone.

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