Sunday, February 7, 2016

When New Beginnings Get Old

OK, enough with the lit’ry stuff.

Was it only a few weeks ago that I swore off commercialism and “ascended to the realm of the creative writer”? My novel was obscurely but finally (self-) published, I had enlisted in a short-story-writing group, and I had entered half-a-dozen contests.

Now, as the contest results come back, I am informed, in case I didn’t know it, that fiction is not my strong suit. The fact is that the writing habits developed over decades of business/commercial/technical writing do not lend themselves well to fiction. The novel was an exception -- something I felt strongly about -- and had the leisure to complete -- 47 years from first draft to publication.

Most of the time, however, I was working to shorter deadlines and in shorter forms. What develops out of that, for me, anyway, is a style that is short to the point of being terse, and an eye for removing excess words (in my own writing, or others’ if I’m entrusted with editing it). This blog is an exception to some of that, but the material I dealt with in a business capacity was factual.

This does not go down well in fiction. The winning entries behind which I have been finishing (far behind) are tales spun out at lengths I would once have considered novellas. More importantly, they seem always to appeal to the emotions.

I’m not opposed to emotion in writing, and Lord knows there are subjects to write about today that will arouse them. But that’s real emotion. The emotion in fictional work is by definition contrived, and I find it difficult to generate. However, there’s a lot of instruction available at the writers’ group I joined, and I will continue to study the techniques revealed there.

For now, though, I’m retreating to my comfort zone. For the next while I will be writing articles for trade publications and, with two friends of the graphic persuasion, offering proposal building services. Our niche will be mid-level contractors who would like to win government business or subcontracts from larger corporations but don’t have the resources to build the necessary proposals. We will help them get into the game.