Wednesday, September 28, 2011
My Fiction Day - Is Minimalist Good or Bad?
Didn't hurt me to do so, and if it made her happy, fine. But that comment about being a minimalist stuck with me. Was that label good or bad? Should I own it proudly or keep it between her and me?
I ran to Wikipedia first. Minimalism is used in music and art more so than writing and means "work stripped down to its most fundamental features." Hmmm. Still . . . good or bad? And what about writing . . . any other writers I may know? Or did she just call me basic? Not sure I like being called basic.
I did not study English, literature, history or journalism. I studied agriculture. Chuckle . . . yeah. Agronomy, to be specific. Soil science. We don't talk minimalism regarding dirt. Unless you call soil stripped of nutrients minimalist. Bummer. In that case, nothing grows in it. I got worried.
But at the very bottom of the page, the definition addressed writers. "An economy of words." Such authors hate adverbs (AMEN) and prefer the context to convey meaning rather than elaborate description. Okay, that's me in most aspects of my life. "Readers are expected to take an active role in the creation of a story, to choose sides based on oblique hints and innuendo, rather than reacting to directions from the author." I liked that.
The style became known in the 40s, via crime fiction. I write suspense. From then to now, such minimalist writers came to light like James M. Cain (Mildred Pierce), Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff, Richard Ford (Independence Day), and Samuel Beckett (1969 Novel Prize for Literature).
I liked that, too.
I Tweeted a comment last week, saying that I was a minimalist writer, and I'd decided to embrace my style. A college creative writing professor Tweeted me back, saying she wished her students would learn to readily embrace their voice.
You'd be amazed at how uplifting and energizing that is . . . knowing you have a voice and deciding to run with it. Someone a fog clears, and you see more of the road.