A Rant to Farewell the Year
A pebble of ignorance has drawn ripples through my circles today. My writers, far and wide, have been making their opinions known in response to this article, on Huffington Post, written by an "award winning author" who claims that anyone other than an "award winning author" is nothing but a wannabe in the writing world.
Ironically, the aforementioned article was written on a site where anyone can post, can "self publish", if I may. Funny.
A good friend of mine has made her feelings known, on her blog, and this entry made me laugh out loud and believe in the power of self published cleverness once more. I just wanted to take a moment to voice my opinions - unfortunately not as cleverly as Cat, and not as snarkily as the other article published - in this regard and let the ranting pass on with the old year.
So... here are the points in particular I want to bring to light.
Firstly, saying everyone who is a writer published through "legitimate" means is a "real writer" is just like suggesting anyone who went to community college doesn't actually have a real degree. Writing, like art, and music, and anything creative, is something you can teach only to a point. It has to start with a spark, a sense, a twinge of talent. Without those, no matter how much money you have on your student loan, or how many years you have at college, you will not be a writer, but a typist. You will be putting down words on a page, sending them to your legitimate editor and legitimate publishing company and hoping for the best.
You'd be surprised how many "legitimate real writers" pass their lives this way.
You'd be surprised how many people who have never gone near the publishing world - due to lack of confidence, or opportunity, or any number of reasons - write some of the most touching, provocative, and truly marvelous work.
Ms Gough seems to think that no such people exist.
I'll save the rest of my rant about this in particular for when I hold my talk in March at Eroticon - I have a lot to say. And there, it will be structured, classy, and a great one finger salute to someone who seems to do nothing more than look down her nose at anyone who doesn't have a paid-for headshot.
Times are changing. A while ago, writers would put their work in journals, make novels last years as a series, published weekly or monthly for their fans to enjoy. A little while after, everything had to go through publishers, and that was the only way to get something out there. Now, the internet has grown to give a lot of people the opportunity to show themselves and their skills. That's the time we live in.
Does every single self-published writer write exceptional work? No.
Does every single publisher-endorsed writer write exceptional work? No.
Putting aside the fact that writing itself is entirely subjective, everything depends on what trends are catching people's attentions, what is on television currently, which actors are interested in what current events, what could happen in the future, what we miss about the past... writing is interpretation, fiction is translation of our world into something better, or faster, or more interesting.
Writing should not ever be caged to set rules. And no writer should be told by someone who happened to be from the generation that required a publishing contract that without one they will get nowhere. I was told that by an abusive ex partner. I've made it a habit to never look them up, but outside of their cruelties and misconceptions, I am not only published, but my work is liked. I have grown a fan base from self publishing, and have met the most incredible people through that.
That, to me, is so much more important than a radio interview on a station no one cares about. Just saying.
What people need to understand is that I am very much of the mind that even though people can do something doesn't mean they should. Some people are not writers. While the internet can have them putting out work to be read, if they don't keep at it, or if they don't have the drive, the power of ideas, the conviction to be a writer, they will stop altogether.
Gough claims that "every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer. Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.", she seems to forget that people like Cormac McCarthy, who doesn't believe in using more than three commas per page, if that, and James Fray, who writes out of order and out of time, and Luke Sutherland... are published authors. They are published authors who went through her "gatekeeper" process and yet fit into none of her preconceptions of what "good writing" is.
50 Shades of Grey, on the other hand, passed through all her gatekeepers, and is still one of the worst works of the written word to ever exist.
Maybe do some research, Laurie, and put that award winning mind to good use for a change.
In the end, what I can say is this: if you are a writer, you will be a writer. Whether it takes you 10 years to get published, or you publish online and never see a contract in your life, if you are a writer, and you will keep at it, and work hard, and put your soul and heart and bones into it, you will succeed.
Never let someone tell you you can't do something just because they have a title you don't.
We currently have an American President with no qualifications whatsoever. What else can I tell you.
Keep writing, keep fighting, tell people on the high and mighty to go shove their long noses up their ass if they need to put them somewhere. Enter the new year with new confidence that you have the power to make your work your own, no one else's, and that if it's the work that touches the world, it can come from a laptop upload, as well as a contractual marketing agreement.
Think on it.