It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Recently, I read a short story collection Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal. The writing quality of this collection was high, hence my rating – 4 stars. The book made a lasting impression on me, but…
My joy level while reading it was about zero. I disliked it. The book was too dark, most stories too hopeless. They made my stomach ache. This book made me hate myself as a writer, made my self-esteem, not too high to begin with, plummet even lower.
The reason for that is the way the author builds her stories. They are not about what happened to the protagonists, nor about the events of the plot. Instead, they are splashes of emotions centered on the characters’ choices and decisions. And most of those emotions are negative. Gloom. Regret. Anguish. Hatred. Despair. Envy. Grief. In many stories, the heroes are damaged, physically or mentally, and their damage affect their actions in a twisted way.
It hurt me to read those stories. I finished the book only because I got it from NetGalley and I was expected to write a review.
When I write my own stories, I don’t want my readers hurt. I want them entertained, so I consciously stay away from deep, dark emotions. I try to make my stories as light as I can. I often employ subtle humor and emphasize the causality of events that compile the plot. But while Kowal got all her stories published in top genre magazines, while they won Hugos and Hugo nominations, I haven’t been able to place even one story in any magazine for the last year and a half.
I do not feel envy. No, I’m glad Kowal got her success: she deserves it. What I feel is sadness. Obviously, I don’t understand what people want to read. That’s why no editor wants my stories. Why do I keep writing them then? Why do I keep submitting? I think I should stop, and that decision is as painful as Kowal’s best stories.