He was a great author, but Bram Stoker didn’t have the voice we want to read now.
Every writer who’s submitted anything has had so sit through a stern lecture about Voice. “The Voice isn’t quite right.” “Publishers are super-attuned to voice.” Or, my personal favorite: “Your narrative has no voice.”
No voice? None? With thousands of words filling hundreds of pages it would have to at least sound like me. When I speak, people hear my voice, so surely it’s the same when I write.
Agents may have been sparing my feelings when they gave me these actual points of feedback. They couldn’t have meant the narrative was silent, so maybe they just didn’t like the writing. I think there’s more, though. I think part of it might be that they want something in #ownvoices. Continue reading
Which of these heroes would you trust?
You hear it all the time. People utter the phrase because they mean it, because they think it’s true, or just because it’s what we expect. It’s a phrase that lovers of literature revel and lovers of film revile: “The book is better than the movie.”
So what about the comic book? Continue reading
Resistant Readers are the agents for change
It’s my favorite chicken-n-egg: does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? I was sedating some students yesterday with my talk about “resistant readings of literature,” when it all fell into place for me. I should have seen it years ago.
Life imitates the opposite of art. Continue reading
Don’t look too closely…
It’s every morning, lately, that the reflection in my mirror is wrong. Not just reversed, because reflections are always reversed, but wrong: influenced, and mildly possessed. Someone slightly other than me.
I’m sure that others have lived this. Perhaps everyone has. Lewis Carroll almost certainly lived it, when he imagined a world that fractured images rather than glass, just beyond his own mirror. What did he see, that day he was so inspired? Were there really talking chess pieces and bullfrogs looking back at him, or just someone that he didn’t quite recognize? Someone not quite himself?
Did rejection by publishers change even his reflection?
Get thee to a library…
Reading the classics can be as shocking as it is enlightening. Words that seemed perfectly innocent to the pantalooned authors of centuries past can, to our contemporary jeans, be insulting to us or to those whom we respect. Of course, this could—and often does—dissuade the average reader from these works. Take it from me: a teenager who doesn’t want to read Hamlet feels perfectly justified in citing Shakespeare’s choices to send girlfriends to nunneries and even Queens to the beds of their in-laws. Ew.
Of course, that average reader is being denied the joys of these stories, and that teenager… well, he’s just avoiding his homework. Continue reading