Thursday, 23 June 2011

Jenny The Obscure

I’ve been struggling a little bit over the past week with my (short story) writing. My shorts writing tends to be obscure, very niche and experimental. Whatever market these kinds of shorts of mine have, it’s very limited. So I’m almost wondering if it’s worth developing such stories. I think I will always write them because they help me learn and they inform my more mainstream novel writing. But I wonder if it’s worth sharpening them for submission to magazines and publications. I’m not sure I should bother showing anyone these stories at all.

Yesterday at one of the two writing groups I attend (the cliquey one), I read out one of my particularly obscure pieces that I am considering sending somewhere. It did not get a good reception. One member was actually quite rude about it. No one there understood the piece. Their reaction was ironic, given the meaning of the piece. I guess in some ways the piece was like a Buddhist Koan (sort of!) and they were reading it from a rational angle.

I think the story failed because it really needs to work on both a rational level and also on a deeper level. I’m still learning, but yesterday’s reaction was off-putting.

Murakami is one of my favourite authors. This is because you can read many of his stories on those two levels. When I first read Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World I thought it was amazing, but I only got hints of the deeper meanings. Since the first reading I have researched into Jungian theory, and now I see that Murakami’s story is very heavily influenced by Jungian theory, to the point that it’s pretty much a narrative version of the Ego/ Shadow/ Animus theory. I’ve also started to research into Semiotics and there’s stuff about that hidden in there too.

I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s pretty daunting. I have no teacher, so it often feels like stabbing in the dark and I feel that I won’t reach the levels I aspire to for a very long time and I’ll have to continue on in this same intense full-time level if I’m ever going to get there.

I think I will take Murakami’s words below to heart and accept that I cannot please everyone, but I have to make sure that those that share my philosophy really, really like it.

This quote is from Murakami comparing running a jazz club to writing a novel:

Even when I ran the club, I understood [that you can't please everybody]. A lot of customers came to the club. If one out of ten enjoyed the place and decided to come again, that was enough. If one out of ten was a repeat customer, then the business would survive. To put it another way, it didn’t matter if nine out of ten people didn’t like the club.

Realizing this lifted a weight of my shoulders. Still, I had to make sure the one person who did like the place really liked it. In order to do that, I had make my philosophy absolutely clear, and patiently maintain that philosophy no matter what. This is what I learned from running a business.

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