I'm currently meant to be writing an essay debating a proposition by George Orwell, unlikely as that may sound depending upon how dirty your mind is. Essentially it is about whether judgements about literature are ever based on 'abstract aesthetic standards' or if they are actually based on whether the book/work in question 'preaches the right sermon'... but right now I'm just thinking about my own writing. I probably shouldn't have chosen 'now' to post a bit of my own writing for people to critique as I will obsess about it. I'm already sitting here thinking about the critiques I've received so far and possible changes I could make, and making a mental note to remember them for the future, too. I know why I did choose now to post my work though: good distraction from my essay. Stupid thing is I actually enjoy writing essays as much as I enjoy writing fiction, once I get into it.
Anyway my main point is aesthetics vs. instrumentality (actual content or 'message') in literature. It got me thinking about my own writing and which is more important to me.
Well, they're both important, I think. When I write, I write for the pleasure of it, but I also want my reader to be provoked into thought by what I write. But sometimes I worry that the 'instrumental' half of my writing sometimes compromises its aesthetics. In other words I get too obsessed about trying to convey a 'message' and forget to write something that is actually enjoyable to read. I can kind of see that in 'Marigold' - the detail about her activities/domestic stuff is there to try and build a kind of repressive/boring atmosphere (I think I was kind of thinking about 'The Life of Ma Parker' when I began writing it) - could say that worked but not in the way intended thus far.
I know in my other pieces of writing there are things that, as a reader, I would probably prefer were kept out...but being able to separate yourself from your own 'intent' and being able to consume your own writing as a distanced reader - wow that's got to be a real talent. But it's not impossible. I definitely think that writing critiques is helpful.
I dunno my brain feels so full at the moment, thinking about my own writing and doing this literature course. From the surface the two seem like a marriage made in heaven, but actually they seem more hellish to me. Whenever I come across a new interesting idea/perspective in my lit course, I instantly want to apply it to my own writing and that totally distracts me from my coursework. I've already had to put my longer works on hold while I do this course, and I'm not entering any more writing competitions while I do it; I'm still waiting for the result of the Jeremy Mogford one anyway. I'll know in January whether I actually got anywhere in it. Probably won't have but that doesn't matter - I enjoyed writing 'tum' whatever happens with it. I may well post it on here once the competition is over.
That's all; going to try and plug my academic brain back in and get this essay done before I'm forced to beg my tutor for an extension.
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