f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Self-Flagellation Part I: We're Not Very Good Writers

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, May 17, 2004

Self-Flagellation Part I: We're Not Very Good Writers

I’m back in the office. And this time I’m staying. Thank goodness.

The last time I was at the YMCA in Estes Park I was near hypothermic after some very bad decisions involving a long hike to a frozen waterfall, lots of cotton clothing, and a 60 inch snow base. This time still brought snow but far less shivering. I got to meet some very cool people in the industry, chatted with a lot of very nice writers-in-waiting, and was allowed to spout off for two hours about emerging fiction and the importance of reading. To all who stop by from the conference, welcome! And join the fray should something catch your interest.

Today I’m going to talk briefly about something that’s been worrying me over the last few weeks. It came to a head in Grand Rapids when Donna Kehoe asked how I thought this site was doing. I said I thought it was going great, that real community was being formed. Both of these things I think are wonderful and don’t concern me in the least.

What concerns me—and troubled me after my talk on Friday about emerging fiction—is the general level of consensus I’m getting. Even at a “CBA” event like the CCWC, I still had about 90% of people in agreement with me. I knew there’d be some, but when it’s so overwhelming, but gut says there may be something wrong.

And what may be wrong is that I’m not thinking things through enough. I’m not going to provoke controversy without cause, but I think there’s room for further debate. You all are doing well with the topics that have been presented so far, and so I’d like to keep that going.

And so, I’d like to start with this:

Great novels take YEARS to write. Until writers start living and dying with every word, we’re just playing at writing. We’ll get by on talent but won’t make the leap to genius.

It’s good to be back.