Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Small subjects, small chances

I've been so out of the loop of what publishers are looking for over the last few years, that on the couple of times recently where I've sent a story or a manuscript out, I've found myself a bit non-plussed by the response. I've had a couple of things read recently which have been liked for the writing, but have been seen as being too "small" a subject. In both of these cases, there's a character who works in an office and is stultified by bureaucractic idiocy. Work, in other words, as a background, and one that has always been a bit under-represented in fiction (so many protagonists not er...working.) I guess I was a bit surprised that it was the scenario, the "smallness", for want of better word, of the story that was pointed out as a flaw. Female writers used to complain that they were undervalued for writing about the domestic rather than the global. I wonder if nowadays there's a tendency to want either the exotic location, the tormented background, or the ostensibly rich and interesting? With the latest letter, I also thought, echoing points that Elizabeth Baines has made in the past on her blog(s), that my work might be being undervalued for being humorous. Thing is, I thought I was writing about the big subjects (growing old, divorce, childlessness, modern life) and was deadly serious in the way I was doing it! I've recently started on a longer project - and in many ways it appears "bigger" than my recent novella and stories. I'll have to reflect carefully on how I get the point over (and probably cut the jokes.)

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