We should read poetry because only in that way can we know man in all his moods — in the most beautiful thoughts of his heart, in his farthest reaches of imagination, in the tenderness of his love, in the nakedness and awe of his soul confronted with the terror and wonder of the Universe.
A thoughtful post in defense of genre fiction. And BAD genre fiction at that.
From the article:
It’s not about shutting your mind off, or any other excuse, it’s about opening your mind, to the brilliant little sparks of joy embedded in even the worst told stories. See, individual books might be bad, but as long as you pull some piece of love out of them, fit it into the gestalt of the hundreds of other books you’ve read, it’s still making you think, still making your world bigger. Disparate stories from different genres might be brilliant on their own, but they can’t contribute to your internal world in the same way. That would be like trying to assemble a puzzle from only corner pieces.
The endless piles of genre fiction are the key to happiness. They’re the key to picking out the things that actually make you happy in this world instead of the things that you’re told are good for you. Ninety percent of everything you read is going to be crap one way or the other, so make sure it’s the crap that makes you smile, and don’t apologize for it.
My writing tends to reflect whatever I’m reading at the moment. I’m sure it’s the same with you. And so my novel ends up with a passage of terse dialogue (All the Pretty Horsesby Cormac McCarthy), followed by a poetic description (Crank by Ellen Hopkins), followed by some fluffy, incoherent garbage I delete the very next day (Outlanderby Diana Gabaldon—which, to be clear, I adore), etc.
Sure, you could probably avoid this inconsistency by locking yourself in a tower in some deserted town with no TV, books, magazines, radio, other people, or other outside influence, but then you might lose out on a lot of what makes books great—allusion, inspiration, the organic growth of ideas from person to person.
And there’s a good chance you would end up writing something about a deserted town with no people—and no plot.
Is it possible to write outside of influence? Is it possible to write something that is purely your own?