Saturday, April 21, 2007

Everyday Evil

I've concluded a couple things in the past year as I've avidly pursued and moderately succeeded in being a published short story author. One of those is that my particular storywriting has trouble fitting into most publications.

Obviously, if you're reading this, you're familiar with Bo Fexler. She's not a terribly heart-warming character. She doesn't always do what's best. And she's quite fluent in profanity. Well, my readers may not realize that since many publications don't accept profanity. So, it's edited out or downplayed to meet the audience (or rather the publication's editors).

These are fine publications and I accept that profanity is still considered inappropriate speech in many forums. Hell, I'm a teacher. I'm regularly reminding my students to watch their language. (The irony is not lost on me!) My stories are usually not affected by lose of vulgarities.

Except some of the stories are not about good people doing good things. They're about people who are bad to varying degrees-- including Bo-- doing a variety of bad things. I don't often write about murders in my stories, but rather missing people, cheating spouses, and other everyday evils. But many publications don't seem to accept bad people doing bad things. Maybe because there's no redemption and no warm-fuzzies. Warm fuzzies make me gag.

On the other side are the hardcore crime noir publications. These are bad people doing horrible things. Everyone gets beat up. People are killed for fun or sport. Women are prostitutes and men are sleaze. The extreme. Now, I'm familiar with pulp fiction (both movie and genre.) Some of my work pushes into this ultra-gritty area. And in these ones my aptitude for profanity also finds its outlet.

Except most of my work isn't hardcore enough. Bo doesn't beat everyone up. She tries to walk the legal line. She's not willing to jeopardize her PI license since she really likes her job. But she's also not redeemed at the end of the story with a "happily ever after" and a "God bless us one and all." Bo's not hardcore crime noir. She's not literary detective/ mystery fiction. She's just an articulate dame trying to make her way in the world full of regular do-badders.

Now THAT is writing I can relate to.

1 comment:

M.C. O'Connor said...

Well said, Clair. It is hard to find that balance between the expectations of the genre and your own vision. I liked this post so much I was inspired, hope you don't mind, to put a link to your blog on my own. Funny, I teach at an "alternative school" as well. "Watch your language" is a daily chore! You can find me at I see you have a short story in OOTG #2 as well. Congrats! (Can't wait for my T-shirt.) Cheers, Mark O'C.