Writing fiction to a set formula that will produce the bestseller is the rat race the author has to run in our times. We must write in a genre that will find a fixed space in a bookshop or in the online stores, not according to the demand of our souls. Writing is increasingly being done for the convenience of the publishing and marketing industries. But come to think of it, neither of these industries can be blamed for what is happening today. They need to keep their pots boiling and they are doing that by putting to sale the writers’ talents. Everything in the contemporary world is given its position and importance according to how well it can sell. Whether it is the sole of a shoe or a book of fiction, everything must pass the test of the market.
Today’s readers are compelled to squeeze out their reading moments in the middle of a train or plane journey or the last part of their waking-time just before their eyes close in sleep. The pressure of work takes away the leisure of reading unless it is reading for business or instruction.
Writing styles have therefore undergone a sea change. Most fiction writers are cutting short and trimming off anything that may appear a waste of time for the reader. What was earlier valued as literary can now be considered irritating. The average reader wants everything reduced to the simplest and barest minimum. Only the rare reader of fiction who has the patience and the taste to appreciate what was called good writing is sometimes sighted. Readers have taken to visual substitutes like the television that gives a story through dramatization and videography. But that is what the times have brought on. Literary fiction is fast being pushed out by light romances, thrillers or something that will not make the reader think, or face squarely as one who has felt this in their own lives.
But, change is the order of life. Great music and great literature cannot be pushed out by the trendy for long. Writers and musicians of the highest order will keep returning. It should be the responsibility of publishers, reviewers, universities, and promoters of culture to keep great literature alive. It has the potential to be a substitute for religion in troubled times.
I find myself writing fiction which seems to spring from a necessity that is very different to what most writers seem to be doing. I do not believe in writing fiction to a set formula.