Elizabeth Bear has a great post here. There are only a couple of problems with it: I agree with her about most it, but don’t feel it negates, generally, the issues and, more importantly, the questions I raise here. She’s dismissing the questioning tone of my piece, and she’s also invalidating my general feeling: I’m not enjoying most of the short fiction I’m reading. I can’t help that–that’s a genuine reaction, it’s how I feel. I don’t know how you can rail against how another human being feels. Now, that may be me being burnt out in my reading, or it may be something else, as I said in my post. It may be related to my own recalibrating of my own technique, too. As I said.
Though, actually, re-reading my piece, I see how it can be read as “hey, everybody writing out there–you’re not trying hard enough.” Which wasn’t my intent, that’s for sure. I know how hard the writing life is. I just want what I always want: more and more various gatekeepers allowing more and more various voices to be heard. And I always think it’s good for all of us to remind each other to push harder. I believe it is easy to get complacent in a world where writers when published do get so many positive strokes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in suggesting that writers be on their guard. I think, after 20 years of publishing and writing, I get to say that. If as hard a working guy as Jay Lake can turn around and question his processes and approach at this stage in his career, then it’s entirely valid to raise these kinds of issues.
Neither am I advocating, like the Mundanes or anyone else connected to a movement, the rise, or re-rise of a particular type of fiction. I’ve written retold fairy tales, New Weirdish stuff, postmodern stuff, lush and non-lush prose style stuff…all in the last year. Epic and personal stuff. I love it all. And, hey, I love traditional stuff done well, too. I don’t do a lot of editng projects like that because there are people doing that already. I will always do projects that I feel, or Ann feels, fill a void or a gap in the field. (Okay, so that doesn’t apply to the pirate antho… )
If I had two additional comments to make about her post, it’s that at the end of it she makes some assertions about the relative worth of, say, China Mieville versus Cat Valente that not only aren’t useful, but have nothing to do with my personal opinions of any of the writers mentioned (which isn’t clear from her post) and serve to lump me into the just another jerky guy category, which simply isn’t fair. I hope most people don’t read it that way, for that reason. This isn’t about “edgy” versus “non-edgy” and it’s most definitely NOT a gender thing. Anyone who knows me, knows that.
And, lastly, I can’t remember being as condescending to Bear as she is to me in her post, but if that’s the way she wants to play it, that’s cool–maybe I’m misreading her the way I believe she’s misread me. I have a great deal of respect for Bear because she always tells it like it is. I don’t have to worry about Bear stabbing me in the back–because there she is stabbing me in the front! LOL!
The main points, again, are worth reading.
And I still think there are pressures of commercialism and the idea of fiction-as-commodity that writers have to face and think about, and are often more noticeable within genre. It is good to continually remind ourselves of this–I know I have to.
Bear, for the record, has an incredible story in our pirate antho–a collaboration with Sarah Monette.