Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On writing to a cultural market

Where are the Mormon Shakespeares and Miltons? Or are science fiction and historical novels the best we can do?

When I was writing the historical novel about the Martin Handcart Company and visiting the Beehive House in Salt Lake, one of my kids told the tour guide I was writing a novel about the Church. The tour guide immediately asked "Has it been approved by the Church?"

As a student of Russian/Soviet history, I learned that essentially there have been only two great literary works that ever came out of Soviet Russia after the revolution: Doctor Zhivago, written in the Russian dissident underground fashion and smuggled out of country to be published abroad, and the writings of Alexandr Solzhenitzen.

Both works written by Soviet dissenters and social outcasts.

Tangible or non-tangible approval by the official Church will more than likely never bring us great Mormon literature that compares to works outside a niche.

It is also true that getting your writing approved by the Church is the way to make a couple of bucks when marketing to a cultural/regional market.

Orson Scott Card's science fiction is classy but not much above many classy writers of our generation and not on a par with Asimov, Heinlein, Clark or Phillip K. Dick. 

His stronger work was the Alvin Maker alternate world stuff about 19th-century American folk magic.

I've seen his internet writing efforts regarding moral issues and the Church which mostly reduce him to the apologist/hack mode (a candidate for FARMS/FAIR) augmented by his aggressive fundamentalist bias. That bias seems to make of Card a religious literalist and kind of goes against the freedom of unfettered and uncensored thought that goes into creative writing.

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