SITUATION: You're nearing the end of your life, and you know it, but feel well enough, finally, to write one more story. Just one. It's probably the one you should have written or might have been working on from the beginning, the one that defines and exposes what is most important to you and that you want to rest of the reading world to know from you. Would this situation turn even the genre writer into a literary one? In other words, is it in all writers to be literary? I suppose one would really have to know himself to speculate here.

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I'm not at that stage of my life but I've thought of this issue many times in the past few decades.  As I get older, the inhibitions that keep me from tackling my personal masterpiece fade.  The fear of its repercussions diminishes.  Still, if I do reach that era of my life when I'm prepared to do it, I would still self-edit to a small degree.  I have children.

I don't know about the transformation into a literary writer; I have no desire to be one.  I think of it as being the best genre book I'll ever write.  What anyone else would think of it, I have no idea.

I also don't like the distinction made between a genre novel and a literary novel in that sense. It's possible that life issues may influence how you write and what you write. The best of the genre writers have always dealt with the hard issues affecting their characters. Clearly that sort of writing comes from the author's soul and is based on his own experience, or at least on the sort of empathy that lets him walk in another person's shoes.

Might inclusion in CliffsNotes mark the "literary" level? I mean, if any of us can define "literary" the way we wish, then ad copy is also included. All this reference to "literary" can be confusing when closely examined for definition. Im just wondering.

I'll simply point out that what's considered literary can change over time. Shakespeare's plays in his day had all the cachet of what a TV sitcom writer enjoys today; it was his "poesy" that was considered his literary work. Dickens is considered a lot more literary today than in his own time, and so on.

Right. Something lasting over time.

Isn't contemporary literature, general fiction, literary fiction, a "genre" in and of its own right? 

JK Rowling recently did this herself. While she appreciates the fame Potter has brought her, why not break off and try something else?

Its like actors in a way. They get typecast in one kind of a role- action or mystery or comedy and yet they want to do a few roles to see how good they are or can be so they negotiate with the studio to agree to continue doing a role they've tired of ( but a role the fans love and will pay to see again and again) in exchange for attempting a role to stretch themselves- even going as far as taking union minimum pay for the chance. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't.

Anyway I AM in the general fiction genre with my works and so far I have made 25 bucks per year over the past few years. I did it both to share my stories with those who may be interested and also to help pay the monthly bills... while it has been satisfying to a degree it isn't going as well as I had hoped. And yet I am embracing the challenge and I still love the genre and I'm comfortable in that genre so I'll keep going for a bit longer. Good thread.

On the other hand.... one never knows when one's number is up. Take the science fiction author Iain M Banks who recently passed away. He was having a pain in his back, went to the doctor for some comfort and was told he had terminal cancer. He's gone now.

Or a more famous author- Stieg Larsson. Hammered through three complete books, submitted them and sold them and yet before they went to print and he was able to enjoy the huge fame it would bring- or perhaps had he lived it would have forced him into a life of seclusion from so much fame....who knows?--- he died suddenly with no warning simply walking up several flights of steps.

The clock is ticking away people and it waits for nobody. NO amount of riches or fame can delay the inevitable. Just look at poor Steve Jobs.

If there IS a manuscript you have tucked away someplace and you figure you'll "get to it" one day.... it might be best to pull it out and re-read it. CAN it be tweaked? Re-worked? Are you willing to make the time to do as best you can with it and complete it? We never know when our time is up. The time is now to do what you can. There are no second chances or extra days to piss away. Just saying.......

Ain't that the truth, Frank!

You know, Dan, I actually already wrote that book. The publisher rejected it...


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