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...