Monday, May 26, 2008

Post Detour

I was going to post this on AbD but thought better of it. It occurs to me that if I want to think out loud (or at least publicly in print) then my blog is the place to do it.

This is what I was going to post:

"I'm currently a member of The Prose Nest here on AbD. I am learning a lot and enjoy my time within the group. The members are good people and I highly recommend it.

My problem becomes that only two of us currently write in the horror or dark fiction genre. People who don't read or write within the genre look at things differently. They interpret things differently or are simply repulsed by the imagery used. I was wondering if there were other members out there, possibly in some of the other crit groups, who are in a similar boat.

Now I'm only new to AbD. I've been participating in TPN for around three months. The moderator is a wonderful person who tries tirelessly to help me with my writing weaknesses. But I still crave discussion with other writers of the genre.

There are two positions still vacant in TPN. I'd love to see additional writers of dark fiction come into the fold.

Having said that, Utopia would be finding horror writers with skill sets, that are willing to come together for the benefit of all involved. People who love to critique others, people who have a good understanding of grammar and punctuation, people who are willing to work with an author through the evolution of a piece, people who are diplomatic but not afraid to attempt to convey a message."

It was at this point I took a step back and decided I shouldn't post this on AbD.

Let me supply you with some background. I've recently been working solidly on four specific stories - as regular readers of this blog would know - and am about to release them onto the markets with high hopes. These are all stories well within the boundaries of dark fiction. The current membership of TPN is not filled with writers of similar stuff. Dare I say, I don't see eye-to-eye with a a large percentage of them. I think a few of them also read this blog - at least occasionally - so I continually pause as to what I should or should not put into print here, for fear of offending someone or for being taken out of context.

But then, I'm a writer and I should be able to convey what I want, using only the printed word. Recently I've been struggling to gain feedback on my stories. It seemed the closer I came to a deadline, the less response I'd receive. A couple of the members do try and provide me with timely feedback (which is appreciated) but one is heavily into the technical side of writing while the other is not a horror reader or writer. The result is excellent feedback on my grammar and punctuational short-comings (of which I am already aware of, and which there is plenty to pick up in a critique - I am trying to improve), and a deficit in understanding of the horror genre.

Now that last comment will ruffle more than a few feathers and will be seen as sour grapes as a direct response to recent feedback. This is not the case. My comments here are due to a build up in frustration.

12 months ago, I worked with another writer of dark fiction. She was encouraging in her critiques and commented more on the overall story than anything else. I thought I was improving. It turned out my technical skills were seriously lacking. I moved on to another critique forum where the members lacked any real writing knowledge and a total lack of diplomacy skills. I didn't learn anything from them. I moved again back to a single writing partner (different from the first) who offered detached critique of the plot line but nothing technical. I improved a little but moved on. I joined Critters. Critters is a very good place for new writers to go and for experienced writers to occasionally go. Unfortunately I learned a lot more from critiquing than from being critiqued, and the length of time between critiques was not in line with my output. I moved on. I joined TPN. My technical difficulties are now being worked on but there is a lack of overall understanding of the genre I'm trying to work in. My voice is being watered down through the critiques.

My horror/dark fiction, is disturbing. It's in your face and extremely unpleasant. Let's face it, who really wants to read about bad things happening to anyone aged under 18. Yet it's like a car accident. Everyone slows down to have a quick look at the carnage beside the highway, while at the same time, thanking their God that it wasn't them.

I don't choose what to write. I write what comes into my head. I'm not sick or demented. I'm a normal father of three, happily married man, information technology professional. I have a normal day job and love my wife and kids. I don't peek in windows and I don't harm kids, animals or anything bigger than a fly. I just write horrible stuff.

The eternal question writers get asked is: "Why do you write?" The answer is because we have to. This is the same answer to "Why do you write what you write?" - because I have to! I write across a lot of different genres and in a lot of different fields because writers write. Writers do not write in a single genre. You name a single author and I can guarantee they don't write in a single genre. We all write, essays, narratives, fiction, nonfiction, shorts, flash, novels, poetry, scripts - everything. We may not always be published in all areas but we do write in all areas. Writers dabble across the stars, in bedrooms, with history, in crypts, with dragons, alongside the police, about themselves and other real people. We write about everything. We choose to concentrate and be published in specific areas.

So in the end, I'd like to find like-minded writers who value feedback and are trying to improve their craft. I'd like to keep my technical guru, but I'd love to find their twin who writes in horror. I'd love to find the horrible clone of most of those I have learned from in the past, who have also gained some benefit from my comments, and gather them all together to form a wonderful crit group. Alas this isn't possible.

I need to write my stories. I need to take on board the comments made by others, but not necessarily, or so readily, dismiss my own. I need to continue to improve my technical skills. I need to ensure I never write poetry again. I need to find one or two horror writers, that are willing to work with me in a small and intimate crit group.

This blog is all about my musings and I guess this post qualifies as exactly that. I ramble when I get going, I know that. I forget punctuation or use it inappropriately, I'm aware of that too.

It's lunchtime and I'm hungry. In the words of Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."


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