Popularity versus Literary Merit

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Mornara
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Post by Mornara »

This was not, so far as it has shown so far, about haiku. The haiku forms were correct, which was mentioned in the feedback. What was criticized was the lack of depth in one, while the other was complimented as good. It was a common consensus that one was somewhat blah, and the other one was quite enjoyable. Simple writer's critique on a writer's forum.

Where it became an issue was when it traveled to this forum and was brought up where it had no business or connection, as a personal discrimination and grievance.

Again, I apologize most deeply to the mods and admins.
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aldan
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Post by aldan »

My thought is that you should simply call them, instead of 'Haiku', something like what you do at times: Scifaiku for Science fiction haiku-styled poems and Fanaiku for the Fantasy ones. Really though, being on the 'net has taught me something... if you call me by my birth name, by my adoptive name or by my posting name here (aldan, that's me!), you'll still be speaking of (or to) me. Labels don't really matter. It's a way to put ideas in a box, which, when you think about it, is what art is supposed to help us to get away from.

I hope that RH hasn't gone the way of the Dinosaurs, but will read this. To me, it's the content of the poem. Quality will help people to read it, and may help them to get more out of it, since poems are a way to strive to bring out a concept, to help them to really bloom, so that others can really see them and enjoy them, even though they may be small.
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Post by RoberII »

To step away from the drama for a second, not that I don't appreciate being defended:

I think that you need both popularity and literary merit to some degree. If we consider, for instance, the Eragon books, you have something completely devoid of merit, but 100 % popular. Or you can have some obscure book like Don DeLillo's Ratner's Star, which has 100 % literary merit but very little popularity.

(Ok ok, the literary merit of Ratner's Star can be debated, but DeLillo is considered a Great Writer in general)

Anyway, I think that most of us will want to try and balance it. We don't want to be the next Eragon, but we do want our books to be succesful. So if we say that our books are immensely popular and also immensely artistic and pushing all sorts of boundaries, we could call that 50/50.. That could be "The Stolen Child" by.. Damn, can't find my copy right now. Good book, though, on all levels. Or it could be the Sandman series.

Anyway, what we need, what we all need to do, is to work on our literary merit and then hope for the best when it comes to popularity. If we are good writers, then popularity will come our way. If we try to do new things, if we try to capture the imaginations of people, then whatever artistic vision that is ALSO present will not detract from that - Shakespeare is a good example of someone that caters to both high and low. Not so much anymore of course, since the language is so outdated, but back in the day he was the Stephen King of his time... Not that the two should be compared in general.

It does not work the other way, though. Eragon does not become a good book just because it is popular. Similarly, a writer's skill is not determined by whether or not he is published, or where.

So, lofty literary goals? I'm all for them!

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Post by spknoevl »

I think that often you have individuals who are excellent writers, but don't have particualary interesting stories to tell; and so-so writers who come up with imaginative stories but don't necessarily tell them in the most artistic way. If the story is interesting enough, unless the writer is a complete bumbler, it will still engross the reader.
It's nice when the two meet and you get and great story told by an accomplished writer.

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Re: Popularity versus Literary Merit

Post by LightBrigade »

RHFay wrote:... popularity versus literary merit. Which is truly important in publication? Does it really matter?...
The Master has rounded it up in his/her first post here, more or less. What could possibly be added, if any, might be little. First, popularity serves only to yield revenue to the writer - we write what they want to read. Second, true merit has nothing to do with the opinion of others in this case. It may have to do with any creation of a writer. Never with any creation of an author - if I can tell the difference, that is.

On the matter which emerged in parallel, now. I have always thought SV to be a place where we can express our concerns freely. No matter how many times they have been discussed about in the past, no matter where. I have always felt free to discuss my experience, my feelings and my thoughts, regardless whether my experience may involve another Site, even if the scope of that Site is complimentary, antagonistic to SV, or whatever. For example, no single person dared comment on my utterly humourous utterance about a year ago when I vowed to take radical action in case I noticed any tendency for change in some competition of a kind *L* - shame on LB, oh, shame!

A personal note for RHFay, if I may. If I realise that one day you are discouraged from writing, I feel the world I live in will be poorer the following day.
When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. -- Oscar Wilde --

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aldan
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Post by aldan »

I concur with your posting, LB (and, BTW, good to see you again!), but the important thing that I think you may have missed was that part of the question was whether or not Popularity would affect the possiblity of publication (or continuation thereof). The contents of the piece (or, in other words, the merits thereof) are quite important to publication, or at least SHOULD BE.

It's rather like my poetry. Do I want to write poetry without any deeper meaning, as do some published poets, or do I want to write stuff that not only means something to me, but can mean a lot to others as well? I know what I want to do, but does that mean, even if it was packed with good depth, that a poem that has no popularity (or chance for it) would get published? Publishing is a business, and is out there to (hopefully) make money. That's how the writers do, as well.
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Post by berry »

As the last 2 posts suggest, in order for anyone to judge the merits of a piece of work they have to be able to read it which pretty much means it must be published. In order to get published someone has to think other people will want to read it. So when it comes right down to it, it could be the best novel in the world, eloquent, engaging, a roller coaster of a novel with a few sizzling gypsies thrown in but if no one but the writer reads it, who cares?
I'm not suggesting that we should all purposefully write for popularity but surely we have to write for an actual audience or else its sort of just of giving yourself a mental happy. The aim of publication isn't just to provide a living for the author, stories are so much more than that. There is a reason that all dictators imprison teachers and burn books in order to keep and strengthen their power.I suppose what I am suggesting is that couldn't influence also be used to judge merit?
Outside of a dog, a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
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aldan
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Post by aldan »

I suppose you could, but what would concern me then is that readers out there would start to discount the blurbs about the pieces they're considering to read even more than they already do, if when they pick up the book to read it they find that it's simply fluff. Many writers out there would then stop even trying to write anything more than simply fluff because they'll start thinking that the publishers and the readers are only buying their book because of the fluff blurbs, instead of the ones that say things like, "This piece really made me think" or "I woke up at 3 AM thinking, 'Why did he do that?'". I know that when I see an author or critic has said something of that sort, it makes me feel more interested, especially if I haven't seen the same author's blurbs shouting inanities.
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Post by waytanblee »

To me, poetry is entirely literary and %100 unpopular!

No, not really.. but I did read something interesting about poetry today that you may find interesting:

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.

I think it's true. Poetry is meant to be obscure and deep. That's why it's good. And that's why I've never been good at it. I wrote a haiku for creative writing a few weeks ago. It had to be about birth and contain one of a list of words, and I chose suitcase:

I was born today
as subtle as a suitcase
gentle and complete

To me this is about as deep as they come! But not very realistic. A suitcase can hardly be subtle.

I guess my point is that poems are supposed to be literary, and deep, and spiritual. Making them popular would only make them bland and against the nature of what they really are and what people intend them to be.

Plus, I don't know if there has ever been a way to popularize a poem. Well, you know, besides a war. :?

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