Msnowe's Blog

m.snowe’s digitally enhanced, wireless soapbox

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on December 3, 2009

A random rant from m.snowe to you. She makes no attempt to be completely concise or clear.

m.snowe isn’t averse to new ideas. In fact, she’s made it her goal to really get into more current writing out there, despite her lustful urges to just go home and read Madame Bovary every night. But there’s a distinction between new fiction, and the formats they use to try and entice readers. m.snowe has found that as much as she’s been contemplating books and stories, she’s also been talking about how they are packaged. And not only that, but how the packaging is in some ways dictating not only the methodology behind, but the shape of the story. m.snowe realizes that every era’s writers have had to fit their stories into the framework of the day (ex.–Dickens elongated his novels for serialization in magazines, etc.). But an interesting thing is happening now–writers are trying to control the formats, or fit their works into different formats that may or may not be suitable for enjoyable reading (Like this stuff, which we learned about from this guy). m.snowe is conflicted, because while she likes the idea of stories everywhere (as if they aren’t already!), she wonders if the quality suffers at the expense of being “the next new thing” or cutting edge, or just, quite frankly, the first to try that crazy shit. Experimentation is great, but where do you begin to compromise your square-shaped story to fit it into a triangle-shaped hole of a format? And if you’re not doing that, you’re writing a story explicitly for the format … so … is that cool?

Part of m.snowe feels like we’re putting the cart before the horse here, people. Lately, it seems all the literary folks are all so worried about “things” – the canisters that are essentially voids, or blanks, which hold our narratives. But can’t we see that our stories will automatically gravitate to the formats that fit them best? We don’t need to worry about some figurative death of reading, not really, though the look and feel of publishing might change (but that’s more a money thing, not a content thing). Why are some so concerned with format? Because any format is essentially a means of reading and disseminating,  it will only survive if people find it useful. Ultimately, we steer its life cycle, not the other way around. If it sucks, it goes the way of Crystal Pepsi. Why do we have this need to “revolutionize” what we’ve been able to reinvent naturally anyways?

Even an oral culture, pre-paper, had ways of making people receptacles of story—and they were revered for the tales they weaved.  So when writers or magazines try to be cutting edge, sometimes m.snowe thinks they’re just worried people will find their stories staid or tired (i.e. “pay no attention to the crap fiction behind the shimmery curtain!”). There’s a reason we read classics, whether using our mom’s old high school signet classic or on a brand new flat and shiny Kindle—because that shit is good, and it speaks to something that transcends the page or screen it sits on. Being innovative is nice, but honestly, m.snowe sees the touting of innovation over the actual story as some kind of marketing gimmick (speaking of gimmick, remember this crazy scheme?). But hey, it’s a tough world out there for writers, so anything to get noticed isn’t too bad of an approach…that is, if that’s all your writing for.

No one technology will be the harbinger of a story’s death, or its athanasia. Fiction, if anything, is an amorphous possibility. And yes, m.snowe is writing all this on a blog.

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