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I keep reading Carol Bly's "The Passionate, Accurate Story" and then getting myself tied up in knots thinking I've got to write stories about global warming and nuclear weapons and whatever.

It's not that I don't want to write stories about global warming and nuclear weapons and whatever, but they kind of have to be subtle enough that I can respect them, and also not just retreads of Paolo Bacigalupi.

I'm already dealing with a terrible and insidious level of perfectionism, where I can't even get to the stage of having an idea for something unless I can feel like it's going to be fantastic right from the beginning. So when I put on top of that, "OH, AND YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SOLVE THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS" - I mean, that's nonsense, that's just another avoidance mechanism.

And actually "Ramblewood Underground" - it's not all the way there yet in terms of storytelling and story structure but in terms of being a passionate accurate story, it IS very much the sort of thing that I want to be writing, with characters who don't have chemical-weapons-testing jobs to quit like the guy in Carol Bly's story but who exist in the world as it is with all its problems, who can be engaged and compassionate people even if they can't solve those problems.

So that's my challenge to myself: to try to find my way toward stories that I care about, that are important to me, while lowering my standards a hell of a lot when it comes to them being politically and aesthetically perfect.

(no subject)

21/8/16 23:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] writerjenn.livejournal.com
The year Barbara Kingsolver was the guest editor for the Best American Short Stories, she described how she was on a plane that had some sort of problem while she was guest editor, and it occurred to her that a short story worth reading was one that you would still want to read if you were on a plane going down, or would be glad to have read if your plane went down. Something like that. I just know it put HUGE pressure on me; it seemed a nearly impossible standard to live up to.

As a reader, I just want stories to enrich my life in some way. They don't all have to be the Ultimate. And I also want stories to help me cope with life on a realistic level. Most of us aren't going to be in a position to negotiate history-changing situations, so what do we as ordinary individuals do to bend life and history in the direction of good, as much as we can? That's the kind of story I look for.

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