I don’t know if I can get this out fast enough before losing the string, it has all been pestering me for the longest time, but I didn’t know how to define it.
A few weeks ago, I was graced with a day in Madison flitting around with Rebecca Rasmussen and our three daughters. We were moms, writing moms, a mom on book tour and a mom writing for dissolution. Our daughters grounded us in the present, the three holding hands on sidewalks, balancing birds fledging along the Capitol grounds. It was ice cream and chocolate and sticky hands and finally a distinction I’d failed to read–Literary writing or Commercial writing.
Again with my daughters, this time in the car on our way to my niece’s high school graduation ceremony, I listened through break beat versions of “Mom. Mommy,” to the first half hour of yesterday’s To The Best Of Our Knowledge show titled “Novel Novels”. I heard the distinction again, though differently stated by Steven Moore most recently author of The Novel: An Alternative History: Beginnings-1600. Moore’s classification –Art writing or Entertainment.
To loosely paraphrase Moore, entertainment writing is character and action driven while art writing is focused on language and what it might do. There is no question which camp I live in, but it’s a quieter camp prone to less parties.
Moore also stressed that art writing, while less widely read, has a sort of staying power, that there will always be some sort of audience though without much girth.
Realizing these distinctions has been a Great Huzzah! I’ve found writers all over the place, popping out between library shelves, sneaking ahead in a coffee line, buying me shots a week before my wedding, but there haven’t been as many (though there are a great many more these days) who “get” where my writing comes from.
Writing commercially or for entertainment is great, terrific, perfect if that’s what’s in you. I love a good piece of action and a great ache of the heart, but for me. Ah, well. You get it. I know you get it.
How do you like your writing and reading? Can you mix the two halves to make a whole?