The Upside to Hearing Voices

I had a plan once.  It was all about writing hard-boiled detective fiction with gritty characters and heart-rending drama.  I was an acolyte of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and I wanted to communicate to people that the life we lived was a gritty and brutal existence.

Here’s the problem with that scenario: I didn’t know what the hell I was talking/writing about.  I grew up in rural Oklahoma, and the threat of crime was not a significant part of my life.  I also went to small, public schools where being a smart-ass know-it-all translated to very few significant ass kickings, if any.  I was by no means a kid of privilege, but I didn’t fear going out after dark either, unless I’d watched a little too much creature feature the night before.

As much as I loved the works of Hammett and Chandler and would later come to respect some of the novels by Dennis Lehane, particularly Gone, Baby, Gone, when it came to writing my own stories, I had very little to add to this particular vein of fiction.  I had no common experience, or even knowledge of someone who did, so my work lacked authenticity.

A kind and honest professor in grad school once told me, “Maybe you’re too nice of a guy to write this kind of stuff.”  I completely ignored him at the time because what did he know.  He was only a kick-ass writer who’d been published many times over (I mean, seriously, the balls on that guy!) and I was nearly finished writing yet another novel of the type for which he felt I was ill-suited.  This guy’s truth and I did not see eye to eye.

Fast forward several years later, and I finally wised up a little.  I stopped ignoring the voices in my head.  They talked like the people I’d grown up with, and the ridiculous things they wanted to do made me laugh.  The characters still take themselves seriously, but the reader doesn’t have to.  I don’t think you can help but put yourself in your stories, either through events you’ve experienced or attitudes you’ve held.  But when you flip through one of my stories, I want you to have a little fun, enjoy a little escape.

Life has enough serious drama of its own.  I see no reason to add to it.  I’d get schooled if I even tried to step onto that court.  I just want to make you chuckle.  (It’s honestly more of a need at this point).

Larry Jenkins is an aspiring Word Pimp. Has laptop, will travel. Let's make this happen, people.

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