Let’s face it. YZW has some of the strongest writing we’ve seen of late, and many of the writers have a fantastic grasp of modern life. Just have a peek at the work of Daisy Anne, or Dan, or Larry, and you immediately see what one can do with language. The themes seen here are also fresh and compelling; when written out with such talent, the results usually leave you open-mouthed.
And then there’s myself. I’m not a modernist. I couldn’t address pain points with such piercing clarity and force as the others here even if I tried. What I am particularly envious of is the skill displayed by YZW writers, when they take up a single issue and work it until its essence is laid bare for all of us to see.
The other night I was driving home from teaching evening classes. It was past 8pm, it was dark and it was raining. I got to thinking about what I was trying to accomplish with my writing. Once again I was struck with a slight feeling of inferiority, what with the load of talent in this group and on Authonomy, where I met most of my writing friends. [It may be necessary to note that there is a streak of inferiority complex preinstalled in the genome of all Finns.] I was wondering if my stories, old-fashioned in structure and content, and often based in times past, had anything to say to anybody.
I had just read the latest blogs by Dan and Daisy Anne and Anne L-G, and savoured the language for its sheer energy, and the themes for their impact. And my newest piece? A ghost story, about as traditional as it gets. I began to feel I am diluting the brand of YZW.
Then the car radio started playing “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. I hummed along and listened to the ironic lyrics – I’ve always adored writers like Mark Knopfler and especially Donald Fagen for their ability to say so much with so few words. Then:
“You check out Guitar George
he knows all the chords
Mind he’s strictly rhythm,
he doesnt want to make it cry or sing
And an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights
to play his thing”
I had to replay this bit. Isn’t this what I am doing? I’m playing rhythm to the modernists by offering plain stuff, stories that can be read and hopefully enjoyed, but which will not leave a lasting imprint. The very same goes for my novel, which someone said could’ve been written by Nevil Shute. At first I was trying to see if that was praise or blame, but finally took it as praise.
I believe there is an opening still for the slow stuff, works that are based in the old storytelling tradition, and will not attempt to address issues that can better be handled by the modernists. Sometimes you don’t want Chicken Tikka with extra hot sauce, but a regular hamburger, hold the lettuce and easy on the mayo. So, perhaps I work at the burger joint and cater for readers who want to know beforehand what they’ll have and what’ll it taste like.
It’s up to you to see if you agree.