Author’s note: I sincerely hope that your first reaction to the above headline was a strong desire to punch me in the face.
If you read my last post (a rant on narrow-minded people brilliantly disguised as a discussion of ethics) then you’ll be glad to know that I’m still not entirely off that topic. I want to keep writing about it because I need a break from fiction and writing about something helps me figure it out in my own brain.
I guess the thing I want to figure out is how a handful of high-horse “Artiste”-types manage to get their head so far up their own ass. (Sometimes what you’re trying to figure out is what you’re trying to figure out.)
My first attempt to participate in an online writers’ group earned me a handful of fresh, new enemies. I was blocked, trolled, called names, the usual. That was because I made the mistake of talking about making money with our craft; my response to that outrage was covered in my last post.
What I still wanted to talk about was the extra layer of self-righteous, exclusionary, judgmental crap that floated to the surface of our conversation. There were only a few people (maybe five out of a hundred) that were going off on this tangent but it was still pretty sad to see people saying things like:
Most new writers are crap.
99% of all books that come out now are worthless.
Readers are stupid because they like “Twilight.”
Anyone who still writes about vampires is a shitty writer.
Amazon has ruined literature because everyone with a computer wants to publish a book (and does.)
Literature is dying because so many crappy writers are polluting the market.
I wouldn’t want most readers these days to read my work anyway. (Yeah, some asshat actually said that his writing was too good for most people.)
These are just examples of the kinds of sentiments that the “select few” were spouting. They united in a self-serving little phalanx and built a platform on these ideas. Some of them even went on to brag about how proud their literature professor would be to see them standing up for “real literature.” It really was like watching a bunch of dizzy idiots wank each other off.
I have a lot of problems with those statements and their underlying ideals. Excusing the fact that they’re nothing but opinionated bullshit, they’re spiteful and delivered in poor taste (unlike when I refer to dizzy idiots wanking, that’s pure class.) They make whoever says them look ignorant and childish. In other words, they’re not the kinds of things that people who are trying to put on “the intellectual act” should be saying.
Yet these pseudo-intellectuals think this is exactly what smart people would say. True aficionados of literature would sit around stroking each other and talking about how terrible other writers are. Good job, professor! You learned them good.
What I wanted to point out here is the largest fallacy in that entire way of thinking:
What you’re complaining about is not happening to “literature.”
It’s happening to the world, and it has been going on for a long time. Read more [+]