On New Year’s Day I attended a “writer’s salon.” It was my first and it was inspiring and terrifying. I read the opening pages of my novel-in-progress out loud to a group of strangers (the only one I knew was the hostess) and they seemed to like it. Their questions were insightful and their warm response encouraged me to go on with the draft.
Writing fiction doesn’t scare me, but sharing it does. I was completely and utterly terrified and didn’t really relax until I’d read my contribution. Later, as the others read opening scenes of plays, a brilliant & hilariously funny short story, beautiful and clever poems and more, I was very, very glad I’d gone first because if I’d heard their contributions I might have bolted out the door before I’d read mine.
These were really smart people, writing really smart things!
I felt like the lone “genre” writer in a room of literary authors. Is there a difference? I’m not entirely sure, but there’s a fear there, a haunting, itchy feeling that sometimes undermines my efforts. I have to avoid telling myself “it’s just a dragon fantasy” or “only a mystery” or “just a shaggy dog story” and nothing important.
The novel is a mystery novel — not a mystery. There’s a subtle and, somehow, tremendous difference. As I work my way through the first of what is likely to be many drafts, I’ll continue to read both high and low brow books. I’ll stake my claim in both camps. Risk, reward and risk again. I like them both.
How about you?