THE NEED FOR FICTION REINVENTION
People fail to realize the extent to which most things in life are influenced by the supply-demand situation.
For instance in politics, the enormous oversupply of liberal arts graduates is one of the drivers of left-wing activity. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who after college worked as a bartender) is a classic example.
But what about art? Writing?
WHEN GOOD ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
Many competent short story writers are published every year in literary journals across the country. Several of them are crafting short stories better than vaunted New Yorker magazine fiction– which for decades has been the model for writing programs across the nation. We’ve published a few of those better writers at our main New Pop Lit site.
Having fiction placed in The New Yorker has been thought of as the Holy Grail for the standard MFA writing student. Thousands of MFA grads are attempting to follow that model. To squeeze through that narrow doorway. Lining up. Jamming up. A department store before the doors open on Black Friday.
The problem is that there are too many creative writers, and too few paying-or-prestigious outlets for their work. A vast oversupply of product. To meet it, tiny demand: very few people who read the overwritten New Yorker model. Today the creative writer’s audience consists of other creative writers, who’ve been trained to read and appreciate that obsolete style of story writing. (New Yorker stories themselves, with rare exceptions, are unread by most New Yorker subscribers.) Well-crafted literary stories are made to be admired, not read.
Today it doesn’t matter how well you the writer can write. The margin of difference between the best and the merely competent is small enough that decisions on who deserves publication and attention are made for reasons other than quality and talent. Instead, they’re made for reasons of politics, correctness, or connections.
The solution is to bust the supply-demand equation which currently exists in writing. This can be done on both ends.
1.) Create a faster, vastly more readable and exciting short story model– one so new and thrilling it demands to be read. Done right, this could grow the audience for short fiction several times over.
At this point the art is so marginalized there’s ample room for growth.
2.) Create a short story prototype so different from the standard– and difficult to do well– that few writers will be able to write it.
Doing this will create the “perfect storm” of jump-started demand, with few writers able to fill that demand. Those writers a step ahead of cultural history will be in a valuable spot. The vocation of fiction writer will become a worthwhile pursuit, for the first time in years.
Creating that new product won’t be easy. I’ve been working intensively on the matter for many months– really, longer (did my first rough version five years ago)– and am finding the going anything but easy.
Then again, life isn’t easy.
-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS