French Fries vs Garlic Mashed Potatoes

take2Yep, you know exactly where this is going… or at least, where it’s been. I posted a blog about a little writer rant the hippie and I were having. It started here, in my blog. Moved to hippie’s response. Was crossposted to facebook and my message board, and then cross-posted again by della in her blog and her facebook. It made the rounds. It got a lot of comments.

And then it reared its ugly head again in the garage. It started normal enough. We discussed the comments that came in and realized that some people may have misunderstood the argument. So before we go any further, let’s clarify, for the hippie’s and my sanity, and for all of you. The argument…

With the combination of self-publishing, e-books and Hollywood’s hunger for the next Harry Potter, anyone can be published—note, I didn’t say anyone can be a writer. I’ve been told informed, only other writers will complain, or even notice, if it’s less than par but selling more copies that Gutenberg. Poorly written books that have enough sex and explosions will be published—and possibly made into a movie. In short, the public doesn’t care about gerunds or semicolons. That’s a fact. It doesn’t matter if it needs to be edited to hell and back, that takes time and money, and the public will eat it up if we just wrap it in this pretty box and write a jingle to go with it (cue the universal humming of “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…”). I’m not saying the stories are bad, some are quite good—if you can get through the typos and grammatical errors and suicidal punctuation. I’m saying the race to finish and get it to the public sometimes leaves the language behind.

Hippie and I often peek into each other’s books—meaning, if he’s reading something, I may grab it and flip a few pages. It’s kinda fun and usually leads to discussion and the other reading it. I had plenty of comments on the one I’m currently reading, which he had first. He loved it. I’m struggling with the language. It’s a big mac pretending to be a filet. It’s got big science and grand ideas, surreal places and interesting characters. But it’s also written in a strange choppy fashion that could have seriously used an editor. His current book, which I peeked in earlier today for the second time, is the opposite. It’s a filet trying to pass itself off as a big mac. The prose is well done, grammatically and artistically. It’s literature, not genre. But its spine, its cover, its publisher all say it’s genre. Sometimes the line between big mac and filet get blurred. Great writing, bad story=big mac. Cheesy story, good writing=big mac. Opposites are filets. Bad, bad = purchased by editor that thinks the back of cereal boxes are brilliant. And then occasionally, there are those big macs that fall under that category based solely on the use of tropes, overused hot topics, etc.

In the first episode of this particular Garage Rants by Kelbert™, I said I would not write a big mac. I repeated it like a mantra. I swore to the stars and the moon and my muse that we’d never do that.

I lied.

The big mac argument continued, still continues. We’ve shared and ranted anew with friends as they enter the demilitarized zone, er, garage. We throw snarky comments at the other regarding big macs whenever possible. And then, on a fateful visit to the in-likes, we brought it up again. And, in front of his parents, he dared me. We made a bet. We would both write big macs. We would hop on the trope train. And we would race to the finish line.

I don’t know what they put in my coffee that day, but I agreed. He’s writing werewolves. I’m writing vampires.

Yes, vampires.

Me. She who has done countless panels and blogs begging writers to stop writing vampires and zombies (which I’m also writing, but in short story format). Strangely, much as I can feel bits of my soul dying as I do this, I’m actually kind of digging the way the vamps are rolling. There’s a good  storyline and a complex structure. It may be a big mac trope, but it’s got plot and character arcs and punctuation, damn it.

In the blurred line that is big macs, we know that neither of us will be able to write poorly on purpose. The grammar and punctuation will be correct, the words will be apropos and pretty. As we are both prone to do, his werewolves are smelling like metaphorland. My vamps are less metaphor and more social commentary. But the moral to the story? They’re big macs. There’s no fooling ourselves. They will be well written, but there may be cheese. And of course, tropes comes with their very own jingle.

I’m in three anthologies this year. I have a novel coming out this winter, two short stories and two novellas coming up, and an article this fall. And the next thing I’ll have to add to that list will be a vampire novel the likes of which no McDonald’s has seen before.

Wish me luck. I may go quiet. After all, this is a race, and I don’t know how to play not to win. Plus, I’ve always been a sucker for a dare… and he knew that!

0 Responses to French Fries vs Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Kevin Lucia says:

    I see your Big Macs and I’ll raise you two Quarter Pounders: I desperately someday want to write a media tie-in novel for one of the following franchises:

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Angel
    Supernatural
    Star Wars

    Enough cheese for everyone there, I think…

  • wolfnoma says:

    Good luck and um, Kelli? Why do my arteries feel as if they are hardening as I type this?

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