mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Mamma, don't let your daughters grow up to write fanfic

Back in the 19th century the occasional novelist would write a book about some dashing creative type. But the creative type was never a writer because somehow writers weren't romantic enough. No, they were always painters, evidently in the belief that an artist's methods and an artist's mindset are much the same as a writer's, after changing what must be changed, like the medium. I'm no artist but I've heard enough about the differences (like petronia pointing out that artists are never seen in the mechanical task of preparing their canvases) to know it's not a straight one to one conversion- however much a writer may think they'd look more kakkou ii if portrayed as a painter.

Poets have if anything more mythos surrounding them than painters even, and I don't in fact know how the act of creation looks to them: though I'm heartened by Auden's remark that poets are simply too lazy to be novelists, as also by Plath's to-do list, which included something like 'Write six new poems by December.' Clearly it's not *all* a matter of waiting for the muse to speak and a lot of writing the wrong line, crossing it out, writing another, and so on.

But I still get antsy when I have to produce a poem for a story. Mostly it's OK, in that all I'm trying to do is write something that sounds like the English translation of a Chinese poem. Since translations usually *do* read slightly off, it's no matter if mine do. But occasionally I have to have a character produce a masterpiece, and masterpieces are hard to pull off. Hell, things that sound like they might reasonably be masterpieces in their (assumed) native language are hard to pull off. That's when various hideous examples of novelists having their charas write poetry come back and gibber at me. No room here for the deprecating authorial comment- "She knew it wasn't a wonderful effort but..." My poem has to be so stunning that a fastidious dragon, on hearing it, would at once be happy to turn on his face and allow a relative stranger to insert things into his bum.

This fic is going to be a long hard slog.
Tags: writing

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