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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Literary VS. Commercial Writing

I love Steinbeck.  Hemingway.  Bronte.  Austin.  Kerouac.  Stephen King and Dan Brown.  Grisham.  Crichton.  And even J.K. Rowling.  Yes, I'm one of those:  I get into the same super-popular works that the rest of the world goes for.  I don't have to find great books that way.  They drop into my lap.

And I write like them.  Some of them, anyway.  After all, I have a BA in theater education, not a PhD in electrical engineering.  So I'm a little more...commercial.

Yes, yes I am.  I am a commercial writer.  I'm not trying to duplicate Forster, I seldom wax poetic like Poe, (okay, DARK poetic,) and though I get a little wordy occasionally, I will never be a Tolstoy or a Dostoevsky. (I'm also not Russian.  Not that you have to be Russian to be wordy, but I hear it helps.)  Though I love Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton, they just ain't my style, and Thomas Hardy writes Tess like no one could...including me.  H.G. Wells is amazing.  So is Alexandre Dumas.  I couldn't write like them if it killed me.  Instead I get compared to Stephanie Meyer.

Should I be worried?

Arguably not.  Why?  Because I write commercial fiction.  Melville and Thackeray write literature.  (I think it's possible that Jules Verne actually wrote commercial fiction, but times were different then.  Writing today he'd be a Steampunk writer extraordinaire...but his language from our modern point of view is literary.  Interesting.)

ANYWAY, I write for the masses.  I write to entertain.  I write the stories I want to read, and that means they're easy reads.  Not that I don't like a challenge, not that I wouldn't love to someday wade through Moby Dick once more...but for now, SAHM that I am, I want fun, fast-paced intensity.  Call it fluff if you will, but it's good fluff.  (Commercial fiction does not by definition equal bad fiction, fyi.)  You probably won't learn any secrets of the universe from commercial fiction, but with its broad themes and sometimes-gritty presentation, you'll enjoy the hell heck out of it.

Literary fiction is lovely.  Commercial fiction is yummy.  If you want a more technical definition, webster or wiki it.  Me?  I write commercial fiction...and Sam is yummy.

Good stuff.

So tell me, what do you prefer?  Commercial or literary?  (And I won't be offended if you say literary!)

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