I was communicating with another writer via internet a while back. We were trading stories and offering constructive criticism to each other. One day, she said something interesting to me.
“Have you read a book in a while?” she asked. “Nobody writes books like this anymore.”
She found my sentence structure odd. My usage of adverbs was archaic and appalling. My similes were off-putting. It wasn’t the plot of the story she was disdainful of; it was the way it was told.
It was her way of saying I’m outdated, obsolete, over before I’ve even begun.
It pissed me off.
And if you’re expecting this to be one of this conciliatory blog posts, where I went back and examined her advice, took it to heart and made a real change to my writing style so that I could be competitive and viable in today’s marketplace, you’re wrong.
I’m still pissed about it.
It’s not as if I were writing in an outdated epistolary fashion.
* * *
Jeffery X. Martin
Please call me X. Everyone does.
When I was a kid, fourth grade, to be exact, I wrote a horror story for a class assignment. It was so good, they called my mother in to the office for a conference on a day when school was closed for students. The fourth grade teachers and the school principal wanted to have me evaluated by a psychologist. The school staff couldn't figure out why I would want to write a story that was violent or had frightening images. Why wasn't it football, puppies and rainbows?
I wasn't that kind of kid. My mother knew that. And she promptly told those teachers, the principal (and that horrible school secretary, the one who looked like a Raggedy Ann doll, possessed by Pazuzu) and anyone else within earshot to go f**k themselves.
I still write scary stories. It's my job. It's what I do. It's what I've always done.