Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Story That Will Sell



Thanks for all the thoughtful comments on the Carver post! I'm going to respond to Pythia's comment which I thought made a good distinction that I failed to make in my post about writing to an audience as opposed for one -- so hear goes it. If you want to hear about John McCain's affair, mark me surprised that he could find someone to sleep with him outside his marriage. He doesn't seem like a pleasant man, by any stretch, but I suppose the human heart remains a mystery . . .

When people find out you're a writer, one of the first reactions is often, I've got a story that would sell! I always think, Damn, I'm glad one of us does! I've never been entranced by mainstream stories, tales where people act noble and good or are saved from great danger or are on the high seas with cute little outfits and whatnot. Even watching The Thornbirds as a child, all I could think is, When is someone going to tell that poor woman that Richard Chamberlain is not only a fake priest, but a real gay guy? That's not to say that I wasn't in love with popular books and movies -- I must have been the only twelve year old to read Looking For Mr. Goodbar three times in one year. That was the year that I received a rhyming dictionary for my birthday and decided that I was serious about my craft. I didn't realize that nobody had rhymed poetry in a very long time, and I wouldn't be the one to bring it back. But I wanted to write something that would change my life. And I suppose I have.

When I write, I never think about a reader. I want a reader, the way I want chocolate and blood-free diamonds and notebooks with Snoopy on them, but I don't think about him or her, about serving up something that people will like. I suppose I get this from my mother. Eat what's here or starve! But there's no need for that in the world of literature -- you can find the person serving exactly what you need at all times. My latest project is a bigger version of some of the blogs you have read here about my rape and about sexual violence in all sorts of ways. Someone asked me, Aren't you afraid that won't sell? But I'm not. It's not for me to judge what sells and what doesn't. I grant you that part of me is a bit afraid it's like the old Grandy's All You Can Eat Livers and Gizzards Tuesdays! -- not appealing at any price. But I only have the material I have and couldn't switch it if I wanted. I can only put up the sign and hope the readers appear, no matter what's on the menu.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Give them pleasure - the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare." Alfred Hitchcock

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Repulsion

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! Again, thanks for all the kind e-mails and support! I'm feeling a lot better today and am sorry for everyone who has suffered under this grief and is suffering -- feel better friends!

13 comments:

Brian in Mpls said...

Would you ever consider ghost writing a story?

Raelin Brianna said...

I'm glad you are starting to feel better. I think mine was just a 24 hour thing even though I now have heartburn from hell LOL So hopefully we will have class on Monday.

~Raelin

sadbob said...

Write as if no-one is watching? Err...I'm going to have a drink and wash down my own sugar coated triteness....

jodi said...

Sweety, I've always heard that you should write what you know. And you do just that honestly--even thru dark subjects..x

robthefob said...

I prefer, "eat what's here...or go to Wendy's, ya no taste f*ck!"

Anonymous said...

Wrong Way Corrigan said: McCain is always getting shot down.

Cheri said...

Even though it was traumatic for you, I like your blogs about your rape. It gives an insight into a subject that makes people uncomfortable in a way that brutally honest but not riske.

Glad to hear that you are feeling better.. I went to work late and had a fever the entire time so I'm sure that I spread a buttload of germs.

When does your novella get released? I need a signed copy. ;D

Charles Gramlich said...

thought provoking post. I don't think of readers when I'm coming up with ideas but I do think of them at times when I'm actually writing. For example, if I've come up with an idea that I think would make a good children's story then I approach the piece that way in the writing. This is because I tend to write in the genres, though, and I think genre readers have certain expectations and I tend to want to meet those, although I don't want to be constrained by them. I would definitely say that most of my stuff began life as being written just for me, though, and that I worried about who might want to read them after.

Anonymous said...

Manfred von Richthofen said: I was shot down!

Anonymous said...

Snoopy said: Take that, Red Baron!!!!

the walking man said...

I think I have to agree that when the fingers hit the keyboard there is no intent other than to get what's in; out.

Although when I was reading the poetry and flash fiction to an audience I hoped for a good reception but then it didn't matter because I was free from the feeling I wrote about at the moment.

Nothing short of a personal letter was ever written just for me, I knew it when I picked up the book to read it and I knew it, even if I enjoyed it, when I put it down.

Although I don't write "for myself," I do write knowing that i want it read by someone else and let them pass the judgment as to it's value. That is the only worth my writing has.

Peace

mark

"A buttload of germs" now that is a classic turn of a phrase, glad i don't work there Cheri.

Anonymous said...

Sigmund said: It's good therapy for you. Keeps you out of trouble.

Pythia3 said...

Michele,
I love this post. Well said . . . thanks for the mention. And, yes, the old, "Oh, have I got a story..."
BTW I too want chocolate and blood-free diamonds!