In my latest workshop, my story got probably the best compliment to date. One of my cohort said that if I were an established author and people read my work with more weight, then it would be great. And it is great, but that without the gravitas of being a published writer, people might mistake what I did as amateurish or inauthentic characterization.
Which is both awesome and depressing. I do write as if people are reading me with the proper weight and attention. What do I do? Change the way I write until I have gravitas and respect and then write what I want? Open all my stories with “Ok, kids, put away your phone and pay attention. I’m not fucking around here”? Wait for some middling slushpile reader who’s bored to death skimming shitty stories to accidentally pay attention to what I’m doing, to what’s going on in the story?
So on one hand, I’m apparently doing some really great work. On the other, I’m being told that no one’s going to notice because I’m too early in my career. Big present, small package. Lightweight getting dismissed at the heavyweight bout.
Did Hemingway have to write some straight-forward, non-iceberg stories to get some respect and recognition before he could pull off the feat of “Hills Like White Elephants”?
It’s frustrating, y’all. Is it a failure of my writing or my audience? Of course I tend to lean toward it being the writing. Carl Jung said something along the lines that the value of a message isn’t in the message itself but in the ability to communicate it clearly. It doesn’t matter how profound something is if you can’t communicate it to someone else. So in that, am I failing?
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