I do not know why, but I do not see any demarcation line between classics and pulp fiction: both are, in my opinion, two brothers, one in the white collar job; while the other, tilting a small patch of land. Both of them are working hard. The only difference is that one has been admired by rank and file; while the other one only by the laymen.
It is sheer by chance that horror fiction and fantasy too have, always, been marginalized by society and could never become a mainstream literature. The reason is simple: high society does not accept them. That’s why Abraham Bram Stoker could not be considered as a course syllabus material, irrespective of the fact, that he had power to sway the readers with his words. The same condition I do feel about Stephen King, whose mammoth work ‘Salem’s Lot’ could not reach the coffee tables of English professors.
Some writers are lucky too that their very first work fetches some prestigious award. Arvind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’ and Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things’ I can safely keep in this category. These works got ‘Men Booker Prize’ in 2006 and 1997 respectively. Mrs. Roy is considered by many as one book wonder; while Adiga too, could not keep the momentum, going by his second book ‘The Last Man in Tower’
Some are mass writers and some are class writers. At times, an author does not even know which category they actually fall into. It’s the readership that makes them so. For this purpose, their work must reach the public. Unfortunately, some authors happened to be a failure in convincing the readership.
But, I’m of the opinion that an author must write his heart and soul on paper, and then only s/he can be accepted by readers. An out of box thinking, innovative ideas, creativity with characters and a prolific reading can make things so. A good writer will necessarily be a good, rather a better reader too. Unless one studies, they cannot write with depth.
Moreover, experience is the best teacher, and in the world of writing it comes with a lot of writing only, and that too on a daily basis. Unless an author practices writing daily, he cannot assume himself a convincing writer. And this skill can be well developed with constant practice. Here I’m pretty convinced with Einstein who said, ‘Success is nothing; but practice and practice.’
A flash fiction is the need of the day: people have little time left apart from the routine job work, and after the time given to their family. Novel reading consumes a lot of time, so the readership has decreased in it considerably in the past few decades. Flash fiction, therefore at this juncture, is the apple of everyone’s eyes: It takes little time to write it; and less to read it, thus both ways it is a golden piece.
Historical fiction, by and large, is not an easy deal: It requires a lot of research and cross verification before putting it to the readers. One will have to be a historian first and then a historical fictionist. To my view, the most arduous task is to pen down something pertaining to the ancient history; for it isn’t easy to get to the evidence.
History is factual; while fiction is imaginary. Historical fiction is where history and fiction are beautifully juxtaposed together. The best amalgamation of the two would be a treat in a five star for the readers. Robin Lane Fox wrote the book ‘Alexander the Great’ in 1970 that became the basis for the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Alexander’ in 2004. Fox was a professor of history in Oxford. But his pure historical account inspired the flick makers to give it a fiction touch.
So was the case with the great historical fantasy 300 that was the saga about King Leonidas and his three hundred Spartan soldiers that faced Persian God King Xerxes and his mammoth army. The credit must go to the script writers who intelligently mixed history with fiction and made people happy. Thus a good historical fiction writer must have this virtue: make the readers happy. The happiness of the reader is the basis of all kind of writings.
Reading and writing are, altogether, two different things: reading, on the one hand, requires only a slight inquisition on part of the reader; while writing needs a lot of research work as well beforehand. Therefore, I always say that to write your first work you need to read at least a thousand books. But to write your second book, you need to have the experience of having written your first one.
Writing something and getting it published, again, are, altogether two different things. So many people write; but only a few of them are, actually, published. Out of frustration due to failure, most of them stop writing. Just a few warriors stay in the battlefield of writing. Writing for the sake of writing is not considered good by some editors. They ask the submitters to write for a cause; however, the objective of the writing will always be that it should print one day.
Love for writing keeps them engaged. They are not concerned whether they are being accepted or rejected by the publishers. They keep submitting their work, one after the other. Though at times the process of submission seems fatiguing, yet they carry on for they love the business, writing.
Many great writers faced struggles in their first work’s publication. Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, H. Rider Haggard’s ‘She’, J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’ were rejected many a time; before they were finally approved and saw the daylight of printing. Some writers even had to make drastic changes in the final draft of their manuscript so as to make it presentable. This is generally done at the suggestion of either the editor or some other noted author.
T.S. Eliot had to accept the editing done by Ezra Pound who removed as many as two hundred lines from his (Eliot’s ) epic work ‘The Waste Land’ before its publication in 1922. Still, the work became immensely popular. And Eliot’s Nobel Prize for literature in 1948, I believe, was largely due to this poem, that is called by many critics as a modern epic.
Rejection of a work does not, necessarily, mean that the writing has some serious shortcoming or flaw in it; but it only does mean: that particular publisher has some other taste, and the editor does not feel that the market will accept the work submitted. Therefore, sometimes a potential work is delayed in its reaching the final abode where it will, eventually, be accepted.
Amish Tripathi’s ‘Shiva Trilogy’ had to be self published by him as no one was agreed to print it; for they considered them religious books that had no commercial value. But he, firmly, believed in himself and his books and these were, later, appreciated by readers worldwide.
Contentment is the remedy of all the problems; and if writing gives someone satisfaction, then no matter, if the work is not published; but the love, enthusiasm and energy involved while one is engrossed in writing, is its own reward.
John Donne was published when he was, no long, in the world; for he did not compose for the sake of publication; but for the sake of happiness of his soul. And today he cherishes a large readership including me who love his metaphysical poems: ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’, ‘The Flea’, ‘The Sun Rising’, and ‘The Canonization’ are a few names to count.
It also depends from what frame of mind the author is writing. Sometimes ideas come from nowhere and the story develops on its own and the maker just has to give it a direction. On the other hand, at times even after persistent and constant efforts, things, just don’t fall in place. And one wonders why the right language is not building.
Thus, time too, plays a pivotal part. Words are like petals, they were not there a few minutes before, and now they are smiling at the slight provocation of thought. I always feel that whenever you miss an opportunity to put your thoughts on paper; and a few hours later you intend to do the same; all words suddenly melt, evaporate; and the entire source seem to be nowhere nearby.
A famous Hindi pulp fiction writer Ved Prakash Sharma, that’s why, didn’t let even his wife come to his writing room with a cup of tea for him in her hand, so that he should not lose track of the whole source of his idea. This thing helped him as he went on a writing spree and ended up writing as many as one hundred and seventy novels including his masterpiece ‘Wardi Wala Gunda’ (A Ruffian in Uniform).
Writing, therefore, is sort of a pure form of meditation that only the author can realize when he’s in this business. That is the reason why when the author isn’t writing, he’s just a guy next door. While one has to write a lot before coming to a position to pen his heart out. The business of writing is so bizarre that at times the author does not know how such a work came out on its own.