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Emo As Fuck

My work gets read by more people now, and so, ultimately, I hear more about it in return.

Year's ago, a writer said to me, "I never ask people what they think about my work. If someone likes it, they'll tell me about it, and if they don't, they'll say nothing." It's good advice, I think, even still, so I never ask what people think, though it doesn't always work out the way he promised. If my friends don't like my work, for example, they have no problem telling me that. My friends have no fear. They sense weakness. They exploit. So they make jokes about it and we all get a laugh out of the dumb things I've written. I still reckon the constant critiques of my author photos are a little unnecessary, however, but maybe you just got to draw the line somewhere.

However, as my work gets read by more people, I get more feedback. "There's a real sense of futility," C said to me on Sunday. "You just know nothing is going to work out right."

There are others, but I'll spare you the long run down. Mostly, people like the work, which is good, and I am forever grateful because no one has to like your work; but the common thread I'm noticing is that people find it dark. Depressing. Unhappy. Full of despair. It's strange, because I'm not quite sure where it comes from, really. I've just been bumbling along, writing, switching styles and genres, but apparently, linking it all together is this sense of futility. The Red Sun stories are the worst of the lot. I mean, I'm currently writing one that has the title of 'The Funeral, Ruined', and you know with a title like that that it is a story of unbridled happiness, wherein everyone sits down at the end and has a nice cup of tea and a laugh.

I never set out to be a writer who had a lot of futility in his work, and I figure it's just a cycle, and I'll jump out of that soon enough. It's not reflective of a personal outlook, so I don't quite know what the deal is, except that writing about damaged people is a lot more interesting than writing about the well adjusted. I can't really explain it beyond that, but it's certainly interesting to see that developing as something that people see in my work. OF course, there's always a chance that this isn't a cycle--maybe I'm just a despairing fuck. I still remember that rejection I got for Black Sheep, where the editor wrote that it was unrelenting in its emotional intensity and bleakness and needed touches of warmth, even if it was a dystopian novel.

That was in 2004 so, y'know, it's a long cycle...

Comments

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lyndarama
Nov. 20th, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
Most people fear honesty you know. I always think of your work as defiantly honest for what it's worth.

If one of your stories ended with everyone sitting down with a nice cup of tea having a laugh, I'd be looking back through the story in the hope there'd be a sly reference to the fact the tea was made by one Jim Jones...

benpeek
Nov. 20th, 2006 03:40 am (UTC)
I always think of your work as defiantly honest for what it's worth.

yeah, i've heard that too. neat :) futily honest.

i think i might try and write a story ending in a cup of tea and a laugh now.
bodhichitta0
Nov. 20th, 2006 04:33 pm (UTC)
Emotional intensity, whatever its origin, despair or no, is a good thing. You write from the Good Place, and not always Good Things come out of there. And people wouldn't recognize the despair if they hadn't felt it themselves.

(And... where's my book BTW? :-p)
benpeek
Nov. 20th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
i know a person who got her book just before the weekend, so i figure it should be rocking up soon...
speshal_k
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
I got it *on* the weekend - Royal Mail delivers on Saturday too!

(unless you mean someone else :)

(PS: I've already finished it and it was *good*. I'm still trying to work out the truth from the lies - a real head fuck)
benpeek
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC)
nah, i meant you. i can't believe you got it on a saturday. imagine, the mail dilivered on a saturday...
speshal_k
Nov. 21st, 2006 10:59 am (UTC)
I think until quite recently they used to do 'morning post' and 'afternoon post' too! (but i think just for businesses)
ex_hestia
Nov. 23rd, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
Here's a bunch of assumptions
This is a really interesting post to me. I'd like to share my immediate thoughts on it with you.

So, you're a writer (artist) living in the over-priced city of Sydney during a bizarre see-no-evil-think-no-evil war and otherwise very conservative era in which there have been race riots for the first time in Gen-X memory. You are poor, your profession is not considered a "real job" by either conservatives or the working class, and while you may have accepted that you cannot expect work security for yourself in your chosen profession you've seen said security dissolve for our generation as well.

If you have anything to do with Centrelink on a regular basis then you know what it's like to be treated like crap by your government.

If you live in the inner city, you probably see daily the casualties of governmental irresponsibility towards inconvenient citizens such as the mentally ill, squatters, public health patients, single mothers, students, refugees and other artists. In fact they're probably part of your social circle. Inner city Sydney still has dilapidated corners where the socialist ideas of keeping poor and rich people in the same neighbourhoods worked beautifully providing a bitter-sweet nostalgia for a dream that shone brightly for too short a time. At the same time we have to listen to pollies from both leading parties clutch at a world that has long since been demolished by their own actions.

The dystopia has already begun and the rich bastards with cooshy jobs in corporations (like publishing corps) want to be comforted for having escaped the worst of it.
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