Angels, thefts, stories and questions for you

My very short story, The Angel in the Car Park is now live over at Rainy City Stories. This makes me happy because Rainy City Stories is a project I think is really cool (and has an editor who has been a dream to work with).

And I have a confession. I stole the title. There’s a story in Tania Hershman’s exceptionally wonderful collection called the Angel in the Car Park (which is also exceptionally wonderful) and it inspired me. So thanks to Tania for that (who, again, for the record, is exceptionally wonderful also).
(This act of theft has actually given birth to a very cool and top secret project of my own. If you’re lucky, and if you’re good, then maybe, one day, I shall tell you more about it.)
And now a question.
I was with friends a couple of evenings ago, both of whom are considerable movie buffs. They know their stuff.
They’d been to see a film and had been disappointed with it. This led to a discussion during which one of them critisised the ending for being depressing. He said, when we go to the cinema we don’t want to be depressed. And then he said, ‘Or do we?’ – and reeled off a list of great films which were not joyous in theme.
The following day I read something I’d recently written to my writing group. It’s a short piece and it starts of being quite funny. And then it plummets in mood and the ending is, well, not one to leave you grinning – and I think it left the group collectively feeling sad. It’s also an ending which I absolutely believe is right for the piece.
So it got me thinking. Not in too much depth, but thinking all the same. As writers, as artists, whatever, are we guilty of not thinking too much of what an audience wants? Or is it our job to give them something different?
The way I see it, most of people’s most memorable films or books, the ones people tend to find the most affecting ARE sad. So is sadness done well better (for want of a better word) than something cheery? And are people less likely to buy a book or go to see a film which sounds miserable or tragic?
Now, I have my own opinions on this (a story is what it is, and should be delivered in the best and most effective way) – but I’d love to know what you folks think.
So, over to you…
And I read Slaughterhouse 5 over the weekend. Wow. I think it might be my favourite novel. Sorry Shelley.

0 Comments on “Angels, thefts, stories and questions for you

  1.  by  Tania Hershman

    How wonderful that “Angel…” is published, that’s thrilling and great news for our secret project (shhh). Whee! Re: miserable and depressing, we absolutely do NOT have to think about what the reader might think when they are reading (or watching) our creations. My god, I would never write anything if I thought I had to amuse, entertain. This would cause huge amounts of self-doubt and ripping up of (metaphorical) first drafts. Do we have a duty to bring them something different? Hmm, that’s an interesting one. I like to think that what I write only I could write, that in some tiny way it is different from anything else, otherwise why do I bother? Personally, I am less likely to read something if it seems “only” humorous without anything deeper, and the same goes, mostly, for the films I watch. I love to laugh, but i like black comedy, comedy with a twist. Something that leaves me, like good fiction should do, slightly altered by the experience. Comedy can do that as well as tragedy, if it is good. The piece from the member of your group sounds excellent – it grabs the reader with the humour and then, when they can’t stop reading, hits them with the serious stuff. Perfect. Interesting food for thought!

  2.  by  Diane Becker

    I have to agree with writer David Simon (The Wire); I quote: ‘… this whole notion of writing for … the average reader … He has to die! I can’t have him in my head’ (Guardian Weekend. Saturday 28 March 2009). It depends a lot on why you write. I write primarily for myself and am always taken aback when people like what I write. I accept not everyone will concur. Some think Raymond Carver’s writing is depressing … that’s missing the point entirely. It’s seeing beyond the subject matter of a story or the ‘outcome’ – whether it’s depressing or not – there can be truth and beauty in the most unexpected places, it’s up to the reader whether or not he/she wants to find them.

  3.  by  Nik's Blog

    Yup, you’ve said pretty much what I think. Interesting to ask ourselves these questions though, I think.And the piece I read was what you read the other day – the allergy story; not filled with chuckles! πŸ˜‰

  4.  by  Anonymous

    I’m one of those people that don’t particularly enjoy a sad film but I wouldn’t be put off reading a sad book. I think it is because a book feels so much more personal and involved. When i go to the cinema, i just want to be entertained for a few hoursJulie

  5.  by  Nik's Blog

    Hi Julie, I think there are a lot of people who share your view, and I think that’s quite right. I guess it’s up to us writers to provide variety and choice.Hey Angelica (brilliant name) glad you liked and that you could relate!Nik πŸ™‚

  6.  by  Lane

    Interesting question. Happy/sad/tragic? It doesn’t matter to me as long as it’s a satisfying ending.I agree with Tania, in that if we think too closesly about what a reader ‘wants’, it would be too inhibiting. And the problem with very ‘genre intensive books’ today is that they’re predictable, with little leeway to step outside the confines.Great story Nik. Now that was a satsifying ending:-)

  7.  by  annie clarkson

    beautiful story, I really like, I like both miserable and entertainings films/books, ideally in the same film/book.

  8.  by  Nik's Blog

    Lane, I especially like and agree with your first point – an ending simply needs to be satisfying, no matter what it is. (Hope your eyes are ok btw.) And I’m glad you liked my little story. :)Annie, thrilled you liked it too! And yes, I agree, as well.Glad I asked this!

  9.  by  Douglas Bruton

    Oh, I do like your Angel story… ends quite poignantly… yes I like this lots, Nik. Thanks for getting it out there where we can read it.D

  10.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    Of course I’ll be good! I’ve had a bath, brushed my hair and put on my best coat and hat. I will sit here and wait…….

  11.  by  Nik's Blog

    Ha! I’m very impressed.:) I shall ask the powers that be if I’m able to reveal my wondrous secret…

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