I’ve received some interesting messages this week which basically amounted to Why Pulp?
Seemed like a worthy blog post.
The answer is pretty simple. I don’t intend to wade into the literary waters. I enjoy reading literary fiction, but I have little desire to write it. I suspect I will always be simply a genre writer. The original pulps were the popular genre fiction of their day. I think there is a tendency to think pulp was, I don’t know, Indiana Jones-type stories. I love those stories. Love. But the pulps were also filled with detective stories, westerns, romance, sci-fi, weird horror, and the list goes on. So, when I say “writes pulp” I mean “writes genre fiction.” But there is more…
The pulp writers were also very prolific. They had to be at a penny (or fraction thereof) a word. They didn’t labor over a novel or short story for a year to make sure it was perfect. A polished story was the least of their concern. This led to a reputation of poor quality, partly because there was some. (Guess what? There are quite a few stinkers on the shelves of your local Barn o’ Novels.) However, Charles Dickens was, for all intents and purposes, a pulp writer. So was Raymond Chandler. Dashiell Hammett. Edgar Rice Burroughs. H.P. Lovecraft. Robert Howard. Tons of others who wrote great stories without as much name recognition today. They wrote a million words a year, and they got better at telling stories because of it. My favorite author John D. MacDonald got his start in the pulps. He famously once said a writer had to get a million words out of his/her system before he/she produces anything of quality (I paraphrase). I believe in the value of practice. I believe in the value of being prolific. I do not worship at the altar of continually revising a story to make it just right. Especially, early on in my writing journey.
Simply put, I think I’ll learn to be a better storyteller by telling more stories.
I have no better answer for Why Pulp?