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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Great, Popular or Both? Syndicated from @JeanNicole19


The following is syndicated from jeannicolerivers.com and is posted here with permission.

In this new writing age of polished erotica and reinvented vampires I wonder if it is possible to be a popular writer and still be a great one.

Many of the new novels that have skyrocketed to popularity are not great works of literature, more than a few are not particularly well written and some of them are just written badly.

So why are they so popular?


Cover links to Amazon.com
They are plot heavy and offer a sort of instant gratification to a generation that seems to yearn for it.  If I took a survey of people on the street, most would have read one of the popular fiction books that are taking bookshelves by storm right now, but ask them the last Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz or Steinbeck book they read and you would hard-pressed to get an answer that was in the last five years.

As a writer is it possible to write popular fiction and have it be recognized as great literature?  Seems hard to do.  In my opinion, great literature consists of (sometimes prolonged, granted.) texts that illustrate a true love for words and language, ideas that make people think, while popular fiction is more dynamic, get to the point, storytelling; there is an audience for both.  Though I am partial to great works of literature as there is nothing more mesmerizing to me than beautiful words, strung lightly together in the most fantastic way to create a perfect sentence, maybe both literature and popular fiction find the end but in different ways.

It reminds me of the evolution of some churches and how it affected people.  At some point many churches began to encourage a more relaxed dress code instead of the scratchy stockings and pink flowered hats that my great-grandmother used to make me wear. The churches began bringing more focus to the choir and incorporating music that was more fanciful to a younger generation, they began accepting the lead of more youthful pastors.  It seemed that many older people frowned upon the changes, but when it’s all said and done if it ends up bringing people to a happy end, does it matter what path they took?

As a reader it is easy to choose but as a writer it is more difficult, you want to be popular but there is also that vanity of wanting to produce something that could be looked upon as a great work someday.  I am sure that the literary greats don’t sit down with the thought, Today, I shall create a great work that will be taught in universities!, they just sit down and write what is in their hearts and in their minds, unafraid of those who will not like it.  The reader has a choice about what to read and whether or not to like it while the writer only makes a decision, whether to write or not to write.

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