I went to the Dark Side. I’m glad I did.

I once wanted to write literary fiction. I loved reading literary fiction, so why not? The more obscure the prose and plotline (read: lack thereof), the more I loved it: James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Thomas Pynchon.

I wanted to write a Finnegans Wake redux. I even read Finnegans Wake. It took me a whole summer. I was an undergraduate with a night job so I had the time. I read all the books you needed to approach Finnegans Wake: the skeleton key, the concordances, the academic treatises. And then I read the opus itself. To the last page: 656. Approximately 200,000 words.

People were impressed; well, some people. Had they read it? No. In fact, no one I knew had read Finnegans Wake. Anyway, I tried to write like Joyce. Bad idea. I eventually realized writing FW-like fiction was a lost cause. Who’s read all of FW (apart from academics)? I deserted literary fiction. You could say I became a traitor. I went to the dark side – the Noir side. Hallelujah!

I started reading genre fiction, specifically crime/detective fiction. Why? I wanted to read a damn good story, not damn good (supposedly) prose. I wanted storylines and whodunnit puzzles, not prose pyrotechnics. Then I started writing genre fiction.

I’m very happy to be in genre land. Does that mean I don’t read literary fiction? No. Does that mean I’ll never write literary fiction again? No. Never say never. Change prose styles when you want to, and change back again. Write whatever you want – in any style you want.

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