During the IWSG last week, I came across a writer's insecurity about writing or not writing "literary" work.
I understand the literary insecurity cycle. It's a tough one.
But, what does literary really mean?
Literary is from the old Latin word literra which became litterarius which became the English word literary. The original definition means: relating to the letters of the alphabet.
Do you use the alphabet when you write? I do.
I guess that means we're literary authors.
Okay, I know what you're thinking: but that's not what "literary" really means!
It means . . . what? Something of snob value? Something that a bunch of college professors decided meets certain qualities or fits certain trends?
Again, looking at the definition, we get: concerning the writing, study, or content of literature, especially of the kind valued for quality of form.
My question has been for many years, as a Secondary Education and English major (I took literature criticism classes) and as a writer, who decides what is considered "quality of form?"
It seems we often think genres like romance, science fiction, fantasy, or mystery can't possibly be "literary" works. But, is that really true?
What about Sense and Sensibility? Is that not romance?
What about Kurt Vonnegut's short story, "Harrison Bergeron?" Is that not science fiction?
What about The Hobbit by Tolkien? Is that not fantasy?
What about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock stories and novels? Are those not mysteries?
Did the authors of these works think they were literary writers?
Who decided they had "quality of form?"
We did. By reading them on repeat, we decided they had quality of form.
So, don't let the "literary" insecurity get to you.
Just write. Write your best. Write more. Keep writing.
Let the readers of the ages sort out the rest.
Publication - I had a hint fiction story included in the Best of 2018 edition of Nail Polish Stories: A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal. You can read my tiny story here: "Breakfast in Red."
Out on submission: four poems and five hint fiction stories.