I got an email from my birth dad a few days back. He’s a retired college professor in Philosophy.
About a year ago, we were comparing our mutual literary ambitions. He wanted to write about an historical event in the town our family is from, in the north of the state where he lives. I had “won” at Nano (2010) and wanted to finish my novel and try the waters with it.
Now, I’ve shelved the novel (for the time being) in favor of writing another few flash pieces and completing a story arc I created with a story called “Cherries” (on my De Mon Esprit site), another anthology and potentially a novel based on another story. He, on the other hand, had put aside his work in favor of a scholarly piece in his particular field of philosophy. He spoke desparagingly of writing fiction and the relative triviality of dealing with literary critics, etc.
I was kind of discouraged by his attitude, to be honest. I don’t expect that what I write will be considered to be of great literary merit, and to be honest, that’s not my aim. I want to tell stories. That’s it.
One of my fellow ‘Net writers (hi, Tony!) has discussed the idea that you should stick to one genre (or no genre at all). I feel as though if I have a great story idea, unless we develop a “story corral” where we share ideas outside of our usual areas, then I’m going to pursue the story as long as it makes sense. So I may write horror or dystopic future or humor or romance or war stories if that’s where my muse is leading.
I know Dad’s been involved with deeper things than I have and that he’s obviously got a different take on writing. I can’t expect him to take what I do for the love of it to be as worthwhile as his life’s work. Still, I’d be sorry to see his story go untold because it wasn’t going to be taken seriously in his estimation.
I think it’s okay to amuse and entertain and even, if it can be done with a light hand, inform. He’s less sure of that. What do you think?