Monday, September 27, 2010

Bad literature

I am not talking about pornography, though I could. Recent stories include having someone promote around a piece of drippy erotica on Facebook without prefacing it with anything but "read what I just wrote"; I function poorly as a social human and was unable to say anything more than, "Wow, you didn't tell us it was rated!" I hate being confronted with others' bad judgment. Another woman broadcast there her insomnia caused by birth control pills, this shortly after her Catholic wedding (at near 40).

Yesterday I spent about an hour reading terrible literature. I am operating as a volunteer juror or reader for an online magazine … I seem to recall hearing decent work at their live readings, so the quality of this latest batch of entries was particularly disheartening. I could see it in a good light, that the competition locally is poor; however, that just makes me think that the decent writers have chosen to abandon this market or at least online literary magazines (though who buys the printed journals anymore?).

There was a poem that contained the phrase "want my husband to spank me" and a short story of no plot, a vignette about Iraq-stationed contractors. The latter had some decent turns of phrase, but they were to no unified purpose. There were poems about the elderly that always ended too bitterly to carry off any point, and the first short story I read was the longest, 13 pages, mostly dialog (that did not advance any plot — again, it was a prolonged scene and full of cliches and irrational grammar) and the creative-writing-101-ruse of loads of song lyrics operating as much of that so-called dialog, a compendium of useless pop-culture references and unnecessary profanity. Another poem was a long lyrical representation of copulation. The entries were distributed anonymously. I do not ever want to know.

I am disinclined to go to the live meeting tonight; I see no point in it, after having sent in my opinion in the form of a spreadsheet with ratings of 1 to 5 (overall only, no categories).

Lately I am disinclined to do a lot of things. The weather has taken its cue from the equinox and become cold. My nose wishes to drip, my hands are literally near-blue, and I've already put on the shearling-lined boots. The tree in the back yard had already dropped most of its leaves by the first day of fall; it had just been waiting for a pretext, having suffered all summer looking like lace for the insect perforations. The edges of most of the foliage around here are perennially brown.

So weather is one excuse. Are there better ones? My cousin seems to be transferring to a college close to home. Florida, I suspect, is too far from her boyfriend. I am always cynical about decisions of career and education that are predicated on romance. He is in his 20s but struck me as very quiet the one time I met him. She probably has changed her major from marine biology, too. Maybe she just misses her lizards and her '90s Toyota.

School is a burden to me, as well. I lack any discipline for accomplishing anything; I have always loathed writing about things forced on one as exercises. Training for a time when something interesting presents itself is boring by definition. Doing so for money is less loathsome; paying someone to make you learn is an odd arrangement.

I have a number of items to post, and all of them have been lingering in the queue for ages. A main set of administrative tasks also linger. The probability of undiminished returns is waning, but now an intern seems to be making a request. Do I really like to manage writers?

Writing is a preference. A friend of mine recently had a little epiphany, a self-guided decision, really, to avoid restrictive employment terms in order to preserve time for creative acts of one's own.

The main reason I undertook this educational endeavor was to learn some things formally for my position. As the position barely exists at this point, the original impetus is gone. Not much of an auxiliary one grew up meanwhile. Does 2014 sound all that distant to you? Also, it's not as if I had the $5,000 or will have the $7,000. I've enjoyed what I've learned, but the joy of depth and esoteric mastery is not very strong. My opinion has not changed from the day I completed undergraduate life, though I tried. I even used my older-now wisdom. I only wish for credentials, and clearly I'm not interested in working for them.

Please note that none of this is "good" writing.

I remember a writing teacher's telling a fellow student (who relayed it to me), "What do you do when your student is a better writer than you?" and finding that a bad case all around. If anything, it has provided me the foundation upon which to judge a certain (low) level of others' work.


Nick said...


Poor prose is like that. At least with lemons...

hearmysong said...

were you able to cross anything off your list?
i have something to send you--just have to make the time to get to the post office. maybe tomorrow?
sending heat and warm hands....