The Obscurity of these Essays

by | Mar 28, 2007 | Approaches to Writing

If you sometimes get the feeling that my blog postings are frequently lacking in anything resembling a conclusion, you’re not alone.  I often feel that way myself.  Part of the problem, if it is a problem, and as I’ve mentioned earlier, is that it’s very difficult to wrap much up within the space I’ve allotted per post.  As to why I don’t expand them; that has something to do with the amount of time I can afford to devote to this.  I do have a job, sort of, as well as a life, sort of, and then there’s the fact that the next novel is increasingly dominating my time and limited head space.  This next opus even has a working title now: Big Rock Candy Mountain.

But probably the biggest factor in this blog’s squishiness is a combination of how my ADDled brain works (or doesn’t – I won’t argue the point) and my subject matter.  Literature is not a science.  What constitutes worthwhile literature, much as I would like to claim otherwise, is a matter of taste.  When I make snippy comments about Robert Heinlein, for instance, as I did in my previous post, I’m perfectly aware that I’m marking myself as out of touch with an enormous percentage of the reading public, which just wants to be entertained.  And Heinlein is frequently entertaining.  Sometimes, as in Stranger in a Strange Land, he even knocks on the door of that thing I have so much trouble defining that is called literature.  For the record, I plowed through a great deal of Heinlein in my early teen years, though even then I couldn’t help but notice the heavy reliance on plot, a certain pandering puerility, and the fact that the characters talk like robots.  Even as a teenager, I never felt the urge to read him twice.

There I go getting off-topic again.

What I hope to do here is not so much to draw firm conclusions as to provide food for thought.  Suggest things rather than make definitive statements.  Give you some insight into how the mind of this particular writer works (or doesn’t – again, I won’t argue the point).  If I were a more orderly thinker I would have gone into academia.  I would have enjoyed tremendously being a history professor.  For some reason the thought of professing literature was less appealing.  That reason was that literary criticism so often seems to me to be so much theory-mongering.  All I really care about, when it comes to literature, is how good a job the author does of showing something about people and their world.  Of course, to do that well the author has to write well, but what that might mean can be awfully hard to pin down.