Kristin and I are going to be in Erie until Tuesday night, so our internet connection will be spotty at best. Not that my posting lately has been all that. It will be good to see my family and I love them dearly but...Erie in March is not fun weather wise. It's going to be 40s and raining the whole freaking trip. Aside from familial stuff, I hope to get some good semi-monastic writing time in and play Super Nintendo...all...day...long!
I wanted to talk a little bit about this criticism that arrogant, pretentious writing involves only "writing for other writers." You see this criticism, or covert forms of it, a lot in neopro hangouts. What's most frustrating about it is that it assumes as a baseline a deep antipathy toward pleasure in writing itself. It also assumes as a baseline a deep divide between The Fiction Writer and The Ideal Reader. That writing and reading are almost two unrelated activities.
But aren't most if not all readers, in some capacity, writers as well? I'm not saying this to be flippant. But my mother writes me letters; my father writes little notes in his St. Augustine tome. The point is that language is everywhere. Both writing and reading are two sides of the same social currency. This has a peculiar historical resonance in science fiction, where many writers have come up from fandom. There is no such thing as a "general reader". And general readers have rights in much the same way as corporations do; that is to say, in the not-very-helpful abstract. This notion is used as a bludgeoning instrument to exacerbate arbitrary divisions between writers. In Peter Middleton's essay "Dirgibles," he says something interesting about poetry that can easily be applied to speculative fiction: "With 'accessible' poetry the obscurity of history and intersubjectivity in poetic form is obscured, so that a false confidence can distract attention from the harder questions."
And there are a shitload of harder questions. We inscribe emotion in our stories, but how? Are we going to achieve a Platonic project through Aristotlean means or vice versa? (More on that in another post, hopefully?) How this is done in a speculative sense is not unfathomable, but the surface has only been scratched.
(ps. I think science fiction is, or can be, a form of melodramatic Language poetry. And I mean that as a compliment. I like melodrama.)