Asked this question to myself, what do I want to do with my writing? Do I want to tell a story that anyone can read? Or do I want to write poetically with obscure and antiquated language? Its hard to separate the two options. Most of my life, barring a few exceptions, I read literature from the 18th and 19th centuries. Language has changed a great deal since then and well a lot of words and styles are only found in those old writing.
Most people aren’t picking up Fennimore Cooper or Jonathan Swift and just diving in without some difficulty. The writing is often dense, by today’s standard overly descriptive, and the language almost indecipherable. They say you write what you read. So since starting this journey into authorship, I have updated my reading list.
My answer to the question posed above wasn’t much of a debate. While my first drafts are often full of the vernacular of a world long past, I carve away my precious darlings to make the story more accessible. Because when it comes down to the very heart of it, I just want people to read my stories. To be entertained and to find some value in the characters and their journey with them.
It’s easy to see why some fall in love with the poetry words create. I even understand the inclination to think that it’s up to the reader to decipher your vocabulary and dense prose. But that begins to whittle away at who is even going to bother. Especially in a world where so much competes for the attention of each individual. That’s a dangerous place for a writer to be.
With all this said, I look at it like this. You can be a writer’s writer, which is certainly of great value, but you are limiting the power of your stories this way, or you can write for everyone. Either way that choice will decide a lot of what happens with your stories.
For me, I want to be a storyteller. Not that I don’t treasure the craft, not that I won’t always strive to create literature that will hold up under the scrutiny of scholars, but I want everyone to read. Maybe, just maybe, that’s the right path for me, time will tell.