girlie jones (girliejones) wrote,
girlie jones

The Post Completion Guilt

So I got that feeling you get after you finish a high pressured task - where you keep forgetting you've finished and keep getting up to go back to the slog.

And maybe I'm so wired I'll watch The 4400 and Battlestar Galactica although I would be better to tape them.

The best bit about having read for my Year's Best list, aside from being able to say I did it, was having a buddy to chat it over with. benpayne and I would shoot emails every day: have you read this? what did you think of this? I can't wait to discuss this one with you.

What I am most surprised about in the specfic community is the low level of intelligent discussion on published works. There's much talk about how Aussies have trouble breaking into markets. There's much pointing out of reviews made of one's work or noting of works enjoyed. And there's also the odd outcry at a comment made by someone else. What there isn't is a lot of discussion on why something was good or was not good and not a lot of room allowed by writers for discussion by onlookers.

I must admit I am likely in a privileged position - my mother and uncle are avid readers and are always up for discussion on works. Often I will come to the Friday night dinner table and say outrageous things to start a discussion, like, "I hate Charles Dickens, I think he's a misogynist and he writes boys books" and a healthy discussion will ensue. I might be completely wrong but I never entered the debate so married to my position that I am unable to hear the other side of the discussion. Ideas and perspectives are cool. If we all thought the same thing, there would be no need for democracy and elections.

Thus you can understand my surprise at the reaction to my comments on hating flash fiction. In retrospect, I still really hate flash fiction. I've read a lot of response to my comments about the place thanks to lots of emails pointing me in various directions. The one that amuses me the most is: "clearly she doesn't know what she is talking about". Heh. I thought about this a lot and ... I pretty much do know if I hate something. It's much the same as how I know I hate peppermint icecream, nails down a chalkboard, peanut butter, swimming at the beach and the West Australian newspaper. I can't describe it ... when you hate something, you just *know* [1].

What noone has actually asked me is .... why I hate flash fiction. Talk centred on whether it was appropriate for me to make the claim or whether I was qualified to make the claim [2] and whether you *could* hate a form (I've hated poetry for years and noone told me that was wrong) but noone ever asked me why. Also noone gave actual examples of really brilliant short fiction and dared me to hate it. It makes me sad that we exist in a community that doesn't embrace debate openly. I get to discuss with a lot of people privately (in person or via email) what I think of what they write or what they publish. Those people have learned to accept critism and most of them have learned an important skill - how to improve by taking advice because they are fallible. And they are the ones who have broken into the overseas markets. And they are fun because I will say "I hated that story in [blah]" and they say, "Oh yeah? why" and off we go. They are also open to explaining things because, heck I'm fallible too (no!).

It can be a fun place about these parts, putting egos aside and realising there is room for everyone. The room we need to make though is for the sideline critics and commentary. You know, to let those who read what is written a chance to participate. If you keep making fun of the kid at the back of the room when he answers the teachers questions differently to you, eventually he'll stop putting his hand up.

I guess the question that I am most interested in asking is, is the last story you got published the best one you want to have ever written?

[1] In case you're not sure, I'm still joking.
[2] If writing makes you a writer, then reading makes you qualified to comment on what you read
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