Posted by: oneyearbook | September 28, 2009


Lately I’ve been torn in two directions by my writing: the literary, and the commercial. I’ve always been a keen booster of so-called literary fiction – it was what we had to write in my undergrad degree (no explicitly ‘genre’ work permitted, with an exception that I’ll get to in a minute), and it was what I liked to read. I mean, I read (and liked) Lolita when I was sixteen. And I still like Lolita, and I still like a lot of very literary novels. But lately I’ve been having trouble reading anything from that category; I take out the new, celebrated lit novels – the stuff that’s shortlisted for Bookers, etc. – and return it to the library without reading more than a few pages. I’m struggling to keep up with the Gravity’s Rainbow reading group pace (I’m already 50 pages behind and it’s only the second week). If you look at my reading for the last two months, there are pretty much three types of books which I have been reading: a) old classics (lots of Jane Austen); b) genre fiction, especially fantasy; and c) young adult fiction. Now, I’ve never outgrown my love for young adult fiction, and interestingly, I found that in school, my writing for children classes (where I mostly focussed on YA stuff) were the one place where an open interest in fantasy or sci-fi wasn’t considered un-literary. (I’ve never taken a screenwriting class, although I assume there’s a similar attitude towards more plot/concept/genre-driven work.)

So I feel drawn to writing things that are more commercial, because that’s what I’m reading right now. Escapist, genre, fantasy, plot-driven, whatever you want to call it. I want my book to be filled with action sequences and surprise twists and maybe even explosions and murder. But I don’t want to give up on emotional, well-written characters, or sublime prose. I just need to find the middle path, the blend between the two. For now, I’m my own and only ideal reader, and to continue forward, I have to figure out how to please that reader.

My book: like a carnival ride, or afternoon tea? Or somewhere in-between - the tea-cup ride at Disneyland, or drinking tea on the ferris wheel?

My book: like a carnival ride, or afternoon tea? Or somewhere in-between - the tea-cup ride at Disneyland, or drinking tea on the ferris wheel?



  1. so maybe you are writing for a YA audience? I have found that some of the best books out there are for the YA audience, and they cross over into adult audiences.

    think harry potter, and make lots of money!

    have you seen the new series, diary of a wimpy kid? being filmed in new west.

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