Friday, May 16, 2008

Great Writing - More Thoughts on Orson Scott Card

As I have read several more stories by Orson Scott Card in his latest collection Keeper of Lost Dreams, I feel as if I'm sitting in a lecture hall as I read his notes. Really, it feels like a conversation between two friends, but one friend is a mute (me), because he's so open and honest about some of what his thoughts are on his work and his process. I want to reply to him, saying things like "No, no, I completely understand where you'r coming from" or "Yes, that story touches me deeply, too - it's not just you." I really appreciate his comments at the end of "Feed the Baby of Love" about how unlikely it would be for him to ever get it published as a "literary" work because the publishers in that genre have long since abandoned writers who want to impress their readers with good stories in favor of authors who impress their readers with how smart they are. That's not a quote, but it speaks to his basic point: literary publishers look down on writers who want to give their readers something they like. They certainly look down on him (in his opinion, though I'm sure he's right) because he is a science fiction writer. He explains how he could throw some magic into the story and publish it as fantasy, but he can't bring himself to do it. Card reminds me a bit of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, who seemed to appreciate their characters as something they met more than simply created. He knows that sometimes the story has to be told the way it is - it can't be molded and crafted to fit some niche simply for the sake of convenience. Also like him, I appreciate that a lot of the stories I want to write at this point in my life need to wait until I have enough experience to write them the way they deserve to be written. At this point I can write very one-dimensional stories - flat worlds, flat characters - with the occasional line paragraph, or page that demonstrates something more. I want to write in the way Card does, though, and maybe some day I can. For now, I will continue to sit at the feet of these great writers and learn.


le35 said...

I think in the end, it's about the practice. I can't be a great writer unless I practice writing for a long time. Maybe you could start practicing by writing a little bit of a novel a little bit at a time for awhile and then start really working to revise it.

Robert said...

It's the revise-revise-revise stuff that makes it hard for me. As a mathematician, I prefer to do work once and check it once (maybe). English is all about revision. I'm good at editing others' work but not always my own.