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reading tiger

More Writerly Thinky Thoughts

Warning: overgeneralizing ahoy.

Last night I had an insight into some of my struggles with fiction (and genre fiction in particular). Basically, it comes down to the fact that fundamentally. I do not believe in the efficacy of individual action to change things on a large scale. I am a collectivist, at least in a political sense. (An egalitarian collectivist, thx.) In fact, I noticed last night that my stories are often to one degree or another about the inability of individuals to effect anything more than small-scale resistance to The Way Things Are.

Certainly there is space within literature for these sorts of stories, but they are rather against the grain of American literature in general and genre literature in particular, noir notably excepted.

I am also aware that a) this limits my audience, and b) explains some of why I am slow and blocky a lot. I suppose I could write a sprawling multicharacter epic about something-or-other someday, but I wouldn't count on it.


Hmm. I agree, but it's never struck me as an impediment to fiction in general or genre in particular. It means a certain kind of plot doesn't appeal to me, but I don't really want to read those plots, either, so I'm happy not to write them.
As I've mentioned before, relatively recently but in a different context, when I was in certain critique groups I would get an awful lot of "these characters are too passive, they don't do anything" feedback that didn't make much sense to me at the time, because it's not like they sat on their ass in the living room with a beer in hand and monologued incessantly or something. In that different context I mentioned recognizing the critique as a gender issue, but now I am thinking that ducking out of heroic individualism feeds into it as well.