Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On Literary Snobbiness and Commercialization...

So, as I've said a few times already, my creative writing professor is a self-proclaimed literary snob.

"Write for posterity, not for profit," he says. He defames genre writing and extols the classics.

On the one hand, I see where he's coming from and agree with him.

Make your writing matter, rather than just be trying to be make a dollar. Don't fall into cliched genre conventions and look to the masters for examples of longevity.

On the other hand, I want to rage against him and his conventional posturing.

Don't try to be pretentious. Genres are fun to read and can act as great vehicles for stories and the classics are often a quite bit antiquated. They have great stories, but the writing is out of the dark ages.

My creative writing professor is also a bit of a hypocrite.

"The goal of writing is to get published," he says. He tells us to look to the markets for what to write in order to be sold and tells us we'll have to conform to be read.

On the one hand, I see where he's coming from and agree with him.

I myself have a dream of seeing my books on bookstore shelves. You should be aware of what is being written and is popular, and if you go too far left field, no one will want to read you.

On the other hand, I want to defy his every word and prove his notions wrong.

People often create for themselves as much as anything. People who break the mold are the ones who start market trends, and originality is the key to being awesome.

Writing is too complex to be put in little boxes. Much of what my prof says is directed at beginning writers, but even they don't need to be told that their ultimate goal is to be published. Too often, I run into writers, who can't tell a story worth squat, asking how to get published. Don't put the friggin' cart before the friggin' horse!

At the same time, writers need to know that it's okay to write for fun and profit. You wrote a romping novel about a cyborg space-whale herder searching for the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything and it becomes a bestseller? Awesome. Not everyone has to try to duplicate War and Peace. As long as you can tell a good story, who cares if Charles Dickens would roll in his grave knowing you included ninja marine biologists and people bought it?

Just make it worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't it suck when people insult genre fiction? It's not like genre stuff can't be just as good as the classics, or you know, be the same as classics. Aren't Jane Eyre and Dracula genre fiction? A lot of classics are genre fiction, but they've become classics due to their awesomeness.


    (gah NaNo is so close panic)