I’ve spent the last year working on a short story collection, which I’ve now finished and will start submitting shortly. It makes a change from the novels I’ve tried so far and reflects the acceptance of a point I’ve come to with regard to my writing.
I thought I was a crime writer, or more to the point I thought I could write the kind of novels I’ve tried in, as has been called, a Hardboiled-Modernist style, submit them, have them be accepted, and published. Most of the rejections I’ve received for these efforts circle around the commercial possibilities of my work. Writing in any genre, especially in something like crime, the books have to have a commercial appeal, it’s too tough out there now for writers, publishers and booksellers to ignore that fact, and looking at what I’ve been trying I can appreciate that the commercial side of things is where my efforts to date have been falling down.
In parallel with my ‘crime writing’ I’ve been writing short stories, and have had some published, and have come to the realisation that they don’t represent a sideline while I was waiting for something else, or somewhere to practice writing, but are an integral part of what I want to write.
So, as I said, I spent the last twelve months working on a short story collection, which I’m very happy with.
I’ve also decide to stop trying to be published as a ‘crime’ writer, I just can’t make it work, and will instead attempt to be classified as a ‘literary’ writer. I know that both are just genres, and in an ideal world both titles would be redundant as all writing would be judged on its quality alone, but publishing, and especially modern publishing, requires a hook (or a scaffold) to hang each writer on, so this is the path I’ve chosen.
Funnily enough I don’t feel any different as a writer, and I haven’t made any conscious efforts to change what it is I actually write, but certainly when it comes to writing another novel I won’t be trying so hard to fit into a crime genre.
Incidentally I have an idea for a novel which does involve some of the tropes and characteristics of crime, specifically noir, fiction, but I’ll be coming at everything in a much more experimental manner, but more about that at another time.
I still know in my head exactly what sort of writer I am, and who it is who inspires me, and where I aim to go as a writer, and I feel it’s a lot easier to just hang it all under the name ‘literary’ to avoid having to qualify everything as I try to explain myself.
So for the moment I’m a short story writer, I’ll probably always be writing short stories, I really get a lot of pleasure out of them, even if they are bloody hard work, and I feel I can say exactly what it is I want to say in them. I also have my experimental novel to work on, which I’ve already started and is really exciting me, so while I may be a failed crime novelist I’m enthusiastic and eager for the words ahead, and anxious to see how it all works out (though no flipping ahead to see whodunit!!)
And yes, Bowie would be the obvious accompaniment here, but I thought I’d try this one instead.