Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Few Thoughts

by Stephanie Black

Well, I don’t know anything about architecture and wouldn’t know Frank Lloyd Wright from Orville and Wilbur, but I think Rob made a great point in his blog yesterday, i.e., just because something isn’t to our personal taste doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit.

That’s easy to say, but hard to apply. You liked book A? What’s wrong with you? That book was seriously flawed. The characters were flat. The plot was underdeveloped. The climax was blah. You have no taste at all. Now, book B, that is good stuff. That is a classic. All the smart people like book B. And I like book B, therefore I can feel superior to all you chumps who like book A. Hooray for pride.

Fact is, there’s not one book out there that everyone loves. And if Rob is an avid Harry Potter fan, while Kerry prefers reading Homer’s Odyssey in the original Greek—so what? As long as what we seek out for reading passes the 13th Article of Faith test, three cheers for differing tastes in literature.

Which brings up the whole "what is appropriate for LDS authors" discussion that's been buzzing here and elsewhere. Frankly, I'm starting to think it's futile. Decisions regarding what is or is not appropriate are such personal ones that I don't think we're ever going to have a meeting of the minds on this matter. There are people firmly convinced that fiction itself is questionable, and we shouldn't read anything but the scriptures and the Ensign. On the other end of the spectrum are people who feel that any novel with LDS characters who keep their covenants and are--gasp!--happy is, by definition, inauthentic and sappy. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. My two cents is this: the Lord has given us standards by which to judge good and evil--for instance, Moroni 7:12-19--and it's up to us to apply these standards to our work, knowing that as authors, we'll all stand individually accountable for what we write. I don't think the LDS writing community will ever come to an agreement on how precisely these standards should be applied, any more than we're all in agreement on exactly what activities are appropriate for the Sabbath day. I just know that I’m accountable for what I read and what I write in my books, which brings up the point that I’ve spent waaaay too much time blogging when I still have a ton of work left on the novel I need to finish in less than a month . . .


6 Comments:

At 7/31/2008 12:21 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

I love how you expressed this. We often get so caught up in our own individual opinions and the strength of them that we unwittingly invalidate the opinions of those around us. Some issues are, by nature, subjective.

 
At 7/31/2008 10:10 AM, Blogger Just_Me said...

Well, I'm firmly on the "fiction is fine!" side of the fence. You can pick up good lessons from so many different types of books. Yes, there are some I won't read (erotic and splatterpunk come to mind), but there are so many different views of the world. It would be a shame to miss out on something wonderful just because the author doesn't have the exact same world view as us.

As for blogging, deadlines, and other distractions from writing... (whimpers) I completely understand. I'm more than a bit behind myself.

 
At 7/31/2008 10:42 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Okay, let me just make this simple. I'm right and everyone else is wrong. Much easier than all this subjective, mamby pamby, shades of gray, everyone get along nonsense.

Now get back to reading what I tell you you can read.

 
At 7/31/2008 7:15 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Wouldn't artistic pornography sort of fall under the "lovely" category of the 13th Article? See, that "or" in there implies that it can be anything of those things, not necessarily all of those things. Hmmm, on second thought, there are two "or" clauses, so maybe virtuous and lovely do go together.

Now, suppose we were to define "praiseworthy"....

 
At 7/31/2008 9:33 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

And, reading fiction on the Sabbath day is the ultimate no-no . . .

 
At 8/01/2008 12:34 AM, Anonymous Walt Eddy said...

So what Genly Ai was taught in his youth was wrong? Truth isn't a matter of the imagination? Ah shucks.

 

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