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dreamer_bones
02-01-2008, 05:56 AM
I've come across a strange trend in writers, namely fellow unpublished writers that I talk to on a regular basis. When I ask what their favorite books or writers are, they claim they "don't read", or are "unhappy with all the writing in (insert the genre they write in here)" or "Can't really respect the published writers because of their flaws." They then proceed to tell me that's why they are a writer of XYZ genre because they believe they can fix the flaws, or can do better, or etc.

Yet these writers who don't respect other writers generally seem to be sub-par/have a lot to learn and refuse to listen to anyone/can't see the flaws in their own work because they haven't read anything of the genre. I know I became a writer because I was really inspired by people in my genre of choice... people like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite, Alice Sebold... the list goes on. Is anyone else noticing this trend? Is it just a weird sort of egotism?

Will Lavender
02-01-2008, 06:11 AM
It's called jealousy.

I will say this, however.

I've personally noticed a lot of frustration (disappointment? anger?) over writers and books since I joined AW, and I don't see too many folks here who come off as jealous. I think we're entering an age of cynicism, maybe. You see it in sports; go to a sports board and I guarantee you there will be fans bashing the coach and/or the players. Maybe that's creeping into the arts. I don't know, but I've noticed a lot of "I threw the book across the room!" sentiment on this board and others.

(There's also something to be said about the financial state of things. When it costs $26 for a hardcover and $10 to get into a movie, then the writer or filmmaker better darn well deliver.)

As for "I don't read," well, there's simply no way you can write publishable work and not read. Won't happen.

veinglory
02-01-2008, 06:14 AM
I don't hink its a trend to the extent that my writers group reader rabidly, love some writers and respect almost all of them. If I may be blunt I think the people you are talking to my not be highly representative of 'writers', perhaps more representative of, um, twits.

HourglassMemory
02-01-2008, 06:15 AM
I only don't like writers whose stories are very similar to mine. But that's probably jealousy because they wrote a story like mine first

Hapax Legomenon
02-01-2008, 06:24 AM
I'm extremely critical of a lot of things, but that doesn't mean that I don't like them. I'll end up bitching and whining and then be the first to defend.

As in, I know there are a lot of crappy fantasy stories, but the good ones are divine. I love genres for the good stories, not hate them for the bad ones. And you know, if the story got published, then somebody had to see something in that story.

I became a writer because I liked a good story. I never really pointed to particular writers as good writers when I was younger. Now I can point out a few, but I still read a lot of things that I don't consider that great. You never really know if something's going to be great until you read the whole thing, though.

In my case, my complaints are sort of like a sibling thing. Only I can beat them up, anybody else, that's not their property. Or something. haha.

I thought you were asking about hating particular writers, as in personally. Now, I can't say that I don't do that...

Smiling Ted
02-01-2008, 06:29 AM
I've come across a strange trend in writers, namely fellow unpublished writers that I talk to on a regular basis. When I ask what their favorite books or writers are, they claim they "don't read", or are "unhappy with all the writing in (insert the genre they write in here)" or "Can't really respect the published writers because of their flaws." They then proceed to tell me that's why they are a writer of XYZ genre because they believe they can fix the flaws, or can do better, or etc.

Yet these writers who don't respect other writers generally seem to be sub-par/have a lot to learn and refuse to listen to anyone/can't see the flaws in their own work because they haven't read anything of the genre. I know I became a writer because I was really inspired by people in my genre of choice... people like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite, Alice Sebold... the list goes on. Is anyone else noticing this trend? Is it just a weird sort of egotism?

It isn't a trend; it's a classic syndrome of the unpublished/unproduced. When I was a script reader, I encountered it on a fairly regular basis.

Someone with this attitude is like the science crank who KNOWS that Einstein is an idiot, and can prove it, too...but those arrogant bastards with degrees refuse to accept his obviously correct demonstrations.

dreamer_bones
02-01-2008, 06:29 AM
Oh yeah, well there are particular writers I don't like, but there are also many I respect. I think veinglory might be right about the twit part lol... I talked to someone on MSN and they "critiqued" my writing, saying it was horrible, didn't make sense, was dull, bland, etc. when I generally get positive feedback (but then again.. positive feedback is subjective.) I then asked him who he would recommend as an example of good writing and he said "myself" I pretty much dismissed him after that...

Jealousy of good writers? Maybe, or maybe these kinds of people are truly blind. I am thinking that they are generally outweighed by good writers who respect others... but I am just seeing this more and more recently.

maestrowork
02-01-2008, 06:35 AM
For writers to say "I don't read" is like for restauranteurs to say "I don't eat."

As for criticizing other authors/books, I don't know whether it's jealousy or just a heightened sense of the craft of writing. I know when I became a writer, I was more aware of everything writing-related, and became more easily annoyed by nits and what I'd learned as "bad writing practices." And I must admit that I also admire and feel jealous about good writers (and hopefully in a good, motivating way). It's also easier to lose sight of what's important beside the mechanics of fiction writing: first and foremost, the art of storytelling.

PinkUnicorn
02-01-2008, 08:38 AM
I can never understand writers who claim they do not read. I mean, why would you want to write if you don't read? I too have heard several new writers claiming that they do not read because writers today are not worth reading.

My responce to that is, "mass produced" books have been around since 1513 and prior to that books were being hand written. When you have more than 400 years worth of books to read, (approx. 12 billion titles) you can't very well use the excuse that you don't read because the current authors aren't worth reading. I mean, what is stopping you from reading non-current authors, huh?

Chickenscratch
02-01-2008, 08:47 AM
Of course writers have to read. It's like eating, right?

But when you're in the middle of a manuscript, you have to be careful WHAT you're reading, if anything. I am so impressionable, I'll be out to lunch with a friend and I'll start picking up on a British accent two tables over. Before long, I'm mixing "Cheers" and "'allo" in with my normal, completely unaccented voice. It's the same thing with writing. If you're reading John Grisham while you're trying to write a chick lit novel, all of a sudden your characters might suffer development at the expense of a maniacal shoe thief who isn't actually the villain at all...

BlueTexas
02-01-2008, 09:05 AM
I had my behind handed to me an hour ago at my writer's group by a person like the OP mentioned. As we were leaving, one of the other member's told me he's just jealous.

Mind you, he was right on about several technical things, but overall, he ripped me up just to show us he knew more than we did. He also thinks all writers publishing today are hacks, and utterly unreadable.

If I ever become one of those people, someone shoot me.

Matera the Mad
02-01-2008, 09:11 AM
I have become a highly critical reader. It hasn't put me off any writers I truly love and respect, but it has given the rest more to live up to - including me.

SageFury
02-01-2008, 09:23 AM
I rarely read unless someone who knows what I like suggests a book to me. The stories i love have always come from anime and RPG games like final fantasy.

When someone says they are a writer but don't read, what they mean is they don't read books they watch cartoons/anime/and play rpg games.

I don't like to read that much only because I'm afraid of stealing ideas, but then again if the story is interesting enough I will say F-it and read it... Rare but happens. I forgot to mention I'm also visually dependent, my memory is so bad I can't hold on to images for long and because of this I can lose interest in a story if I can't finish it within a couple hours because i forget how they got there... Hatchet, hit me to the point I can't forget it, and so did The Cask of Amontillado.

Another reason I don't read much is because My education SUCKED... im my entire school history they had us read maybe 14 books... and only a couple were worth it.

Ravenlocks
02-01-2008, 09:33 AM
I don't get would-be writers who don't read. I've also dealt with would-be screenwriters who don't watch movies. In my experience, in addition to not being very good, these folks are usually unwilling to hear that they're not very good, which excludes any possibility of them ever getting better. Of course, they don't know what they're up against or how a good story is developed anyway, because they don't read or watch movies.

But I also don't understand the camp that says writers have a duty never to say anything bad about other people's writing. I subscribe to the theory that analyzing other people's writing is helpful and useful, and I see nothing wrong with honest analyses of books, even if the analysis ultimately concludes that the book isn't very good.

Ravenlocks
02-01-2008, 09:38 AM
When someone says they are a writer but don't read, what they mean is they don't read books they watch cartoons/anime/and play rpg games.

Then they should write cartoons or anime or RPG's. I feel you have to immerse yourself in the form you're trying to write so you can absorb how it's done, how the story is expressed on the page, the devices other writers use to convey their stories. You can't learn that without reading the form.

Zoombie
02-01-2008, 09:40 AM
The only writers I don't like are 80 year olds who haven't done anything who suddenly decide to write boring memories and fill up the writers club and they're all so old and dull and when I say I write science fiction and they go, "Eh? What's that!"

Argh!

I don't like memories. Don't write them unless you've, I don't know...lead a daring raid against Japan in B-52 flying fortresses or something.

SageFury
02-01-2008, 09:41 AM
I don't get would-be writers who don't read. I've also dealt with would-be screenwriters who don't watch movies. In my experience, in addition to not being very good, these folks are usually unwilling to hear that they're not very good, which excludes any possibility of them ever getting better. Of course, they don't know what they're up against or how a good story is developed anyway, because they don't read or watch movies.

But I also don't understand the camp that says writers have a duty never to say anything bad about other people's writing. I subscribe to the theory that analyzing other people's writing is helpful and useful, and I see nothing wrong with honest analyses of books, even if the analysis ultimately concludes that the book isn't very good.

I research to learn techniques myself, and I will read stories near the same style as mine to get an idea how others go about form but in the end, you don't have to read a lot to become a writer its just the approach and form that need to be understood.

Do remember that in the old castle days the story tellers known as bards had no style at all and could captivate an audience. Stories can be told in different ways and still be good, they just have to be written in the form we are use to reading them in... look at manga, left to right, what the heck were they thinking...


Then they should write cartoons or anime or RPG's. I feel you have to immerse yourself in the form you're trying to write so you can absorb how it's done, how the story is expressed on the page, the devices other writers use to convey their stories. You can't learn that without reading the form.

Not everyone is an artist, if you noticed most cartoons/anime/rpg games come from overseas and one of the primary things in japan is art... I'm trying myself to draw anime but it's so hard... easier to draw real people for some reason.

Ben_G
02-01-2008, 11:12 AM
I'd be suspicious of a writer that doesn't read. My writing improves immeasurably when I'm reading, especially if it's good, because I'm unconsciously collecting the techniques and mechanics that make good writing. When I'm not reading, which is more often than I'd prefer, my quality dips.

Any technical skill requires reinforcement. I do admit that when I was first writing, I would more frequently notice the mistakes other writers put into their work. I still wonder how some writers get away with some of the stuff they do. It didn't stop me from reading, but I would sometimes consciously seek out better material.

It's an odd phenomenon, the writer who won't read. Still, there are plenty of amateurs in any field who think they can do a better job than the professionals. They'll learn.

Ben_G

ORION
02-01-2008, 11:20 AM
I don't know a published author that doesn't recommend reading a lot...I listen to authors I respect and who have been in the business a long time and they all say the same thing:
Write everyday and read a lot...

JoNightshade
02-01-2008, 11:33 AM
I don't like to read that much only because I'm afraid of stealing ideas,

You are going to learn really fast that this doesn't work on a number of levels.

1) You are more apt to "steal ideas" if you are unaware of the other ideas circulating in the literary field.
2) Learning to perform any task, whether drawing, painting, dancing, or writing, REQUIRES imitation. You must crawl before you walk. Apprentice painters copy the masters before they learn to create on their own. Dancing would be meaningless if you never learned the steps because you want to be "original." It is only within the structure of the form itself that you can express your individuality. (Yes, deep, I know. ;))
3) The idea that you are going to come up with a completely new idea is absurd. We're all telling the same stories over and over again. It's HOW you tell the story that matters, and you can't do that well unless you've seen how others do it. Writing is not an isolated pursuit. It's a conversation with readers and with other writers.

I could go on but if I haven't convinced you I'm not going to. I think your next post pretty much says it all:


Do remember that in the old castle days the story tellers known as bards had no style at all and could captivate an audience.

If you had actually read any traditional French lais (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lai), composed during "the old castle days" (the medieval period, I assume), or perhaps some Bardic poetry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardic_poetry), you would understand that your statement that "bards had no style" is utterly false.

akiwiguy
02-01-2008, 11:36 AM
If a writer's that good I'm in awe of them, definitely not jealous.

I have always been quite selective as to what I'll read, so either I just am not interested, or I respect a writer deeply.

Nari
02-01-2008, 12:01 PM
I don't really think it is a recent trend, but a trait of some writers to get caught up in the egotism of their own writing. I have noticed the competition within writer circles to be more aggressive, perhaps, than say in weaving or painting circles. The uniqueness of the literary art, as opposed to the example of fiber or painting art, is that the onlooker must open the pages to view it. Since so much of one's "self" is put into the work, I suppose some feel it a personal affront against their own ego to open up to the talents or aspirations of others. It is difficult to say, but I think such internal drama does exist.

I would say that anyone who has the aspiration to be a writer and does not read, may want the recognition more than the actual labor required of the craft. It is really a contradiction in terms, the writer who does not like to read, but there are those who would rather sit in coffee houses and expound their philosophy rather than sit at a desk for all the time it truly does take in fine tuning the art of writing.

But there are always those who are pompous, regardless of their pursuit. I say be grateful you are on a higher spiritual plane.

Enzo
02-01-2008, 12:33 PM
I like writing thrillers and crime stories because I like reading those by others.
If I hated all other authors' thrillers as rubbish, I just wouldn't want to write any such books in the first place.

blacbird
02-01-2008, 12:47 PM
I don't understand this, either. To me, anybody who can get writing published is God. Because I can't. Any published writer is obviously better at this than I am.

caw

Chase
02-01-2008, 01:10 PM
I like other writers. That's why I read so much; that's why I hang out here. Even though I like some better than others here, I like them all better than normal people.

Mr Flibble
02-01-2008, 01:34 PM
a heightened sense of the craft of writing. I know when I became a writer, I was more aware of everything writing-related, and became more easily annoyed by nits and what I'd learned as "bad writing practices."

I think that's it for me entirely. I read like it's goiing out of fashion, but I'm so much more aware of the mechanics, that if they , for instance, have a huge info dump, it puts me right off. Before I would have just waded through and waited to get to the good stuff, but now, if I see something that is a glaring example of "bad writing practices", I find I end up having to force myself to finish. I know I'm being picky, ( and that I probably can't write half as well) but I suspect the more I write the less this will bother me. I hope, because it's a right pain!

That said, if I find a book I like, it lasts about a day before I'm done reading it. Those that I have to force myself still get recommended to friends who don't write because I know they'll love them.

gp101
02-01-2008, 01:50 PM
I've come across a strange trend in writers, namely fellow unpublished writers that I talk to on a regular basis. When I ask what their favorite books or writers are, they claim they "don't read", or are "unhappy with all the writing in (insert the genre they write in here)" or "Can't really respect the published writers because of their flaws." They then proceed to tell me that's why they are a writer of XYZ genre because they believe they can fix the flaws, or can do better, or etc.

Yet these writers who don't respect other writers generally seem to be sub-par/have a lot to learn and refuse to listen to anyone/can't see the flaws in their own work because they haven't read anything of the genre. I know I became a writer because I was really inspired by people in my genre of choice... people like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Poppy Z. Brite, Alice Sebold... the list goes on. Is anyone else noticing this trend? Is it just a weird sort of egotism?


I'm willing to bet a lot of these "writers" you associate with are bitter over not being published. I'm sure they've read a couple books in their genre that may have been sub-par, or may be inferior to their work, in their opinion. It's plain jealousy and self-agrandisement. I suffered through a bout of it myself in my naive years two decades ago. Don't pay them any mind. If they're not published, they don't have much cred. And of course, they'll claim you don't have to be pubbed to have cred or to be a brilliant writer... yet, that's exactly what they hope for, I'm sure. Sour apples.

NeuroFizz
02-01-2008, 02:44 PM
The person described in the original post was just a butthead. We all get more critical in our reading as we learn more about writing, but most of us don't spin it with overt arrogance and grand delusion. To me, this individual personifies the classic definition of a blowhard. "It's all crap, but I'll straighten it all out. You just wait and see."

The worst part is (I think) this type of reaction is based more on extreme ignorance than on knoweldge. The best parallel I can draw is the stereotypical gym rat who thinks he can screw all the lesbians into straightness. "You just give me a shot at them. I'll straighten them out. You just wait and see."

Raphee
02-01-2008, 02:44 PM
I tend to think that writers are less competitive as compared to other professions. Perhaps it is because they are more solitary or have to be while writing.
The amount of advice I have gotten from AW, blogs and personal emails to help me in my writing indicates the twits are a minority.
Thanks to all on this forum.

Elaine Margarett
02-01-2008, 04:32 PM
I was a voracious reader, once upon a time. I read everything. My earliest, fondest memories are going to the library with my father. I loved everything about it, from the way the books filled the stacks from floor to ceiling to the way my maryjanes made clacking sounds on the marble floor.

I read all the books I checked out, and then turned to my dad's books. I discovered Evan Hunter when I was twelve. Read Lolita when I was fourteen. I read all the popular fiction of the seventies and eighties long before I was of the age. Phillip Roth was another fav of my dad's. I've been know to read the fricken phone book out of boredom. And I've called in sick to work because I just had to finish the book I started the night before.

Now, all that joy is gone. I don't know why. A lot has to do with the fact that as a writer I notice so much more when I read. I liken it to Dorothy in OZ looking behind the curtain at the little, weak man who's the wizard. The magic is gone.

I've tried going back and rereading my favorites...nothing. I've even gone to my Dr, for a RX for ADD. I've been told it could be PTSD due to my job...I'm a casulty photographer for the military, but I had this problem before I took the job almost four years ago.

I can accept that as an aspiring writer I might never have the sucess I'm striving for. I'm okay with that. Believe me, when it comes to the lottery in life I know I've hit the jackpot already. Anything else is icing on the cake. But to lose my love of writing is a horrible price to pay. I'd give anything to get it back.

Now I'm really bummed,
Elaine

jessicaorr
02-01-2008, 06:26 PM
I LOVE reading but I do get a bit jealous occasionally. It works out though, my inner green eyed monster drives me to hone my craft so one day I can make a fellow writer just as envious :p

loiterer
02-01-2008, 06:46 PM
Recently on the board I mentioned how I read voraciously up to the age of 20, but that I don't read much anymore, because all I see are the mistakes. I mentioned how frustrated I was about this, that all I wanted was to enjoy reading again.

For me, it has nothing to do with not respecting the writers. The more I try to write myself, the more I learn how bloody hard it is. I have increasing respect for people who can actually manage to put in the monstrous hard yards to hold a story together and complete a novel to publication standard.

Nor do I presume to be able to do any better than these published writers. I make countless errors in my own writing. Writing is bloody hard. The hardest thing I've ever done. And I've been trying ten years, off and on.

Then another poster wrote this:


Now, all that joy is gone. I don't know why. A lot has to do with the fact that as a writer I notice so much more when I read. I liken it to Dorothy in OZ looking behind the curtain at the little, weak man who's the wizard. The magic is gone.

This is it. The magic of reading has all but gone for me. It's got nothing, at least in my case, to do with jealousy of published writers. I just want the magic back.

I hope to get it back through my own writing.

loiterer
02-01-2008, 06:55 PM
When someone says they are a writer but don't read, what they mean is they don't read books they watch cartoons/anime/and play rpg games.

I try to be a writer, and I don't read books in any significant amount anymore. But I don't watch TV (my TV is bust) don't watch movies or cartoons or anime, don't rpg, read comics, don't do any of this stuff. Occasionally I play too much solitaire on my computer. That's about it.

I probably only read 20 books a year at the moment (several would be non-fiction). I used to read one a day at least, until I was 20.

icerose
02-01-2008, 07:18 PM
What I want to know is if someone has so much disdain for the written word, why are they trying to create it themselves?? It's like saying "I hate oil paints." Then trying to paint an oil painting. It makes no sense at all and if they don't adjust their attitude they will NEVER get anywhere in the writing world.

I can say for this writer (myself) I adore the written word, I rarely encounter a published story I don't enjoy and I can't get enough of it. I love reading, it's why I wanted to become a writer. I wanted to be the one telling the stories I love so much and give people the joy those books give me.

As for mistakes in published novels I enjoy them. They give me comfort and hope that I don't have to be perfect to tell a good story.

Elaine Margarett
02-01-2008, 07:24 PM
But to lose my love of writing is a horrible price to pay. I'd give anything to get it back.

Of course, I meant to say my love of reading.

EM,
who loves writing...mostly

Shadow_Ferret
02-01-2008, 07:28 PM
I don't dislike any writers. There are a few I don't read because I can't get into their writing style or the stories they've written don't interest me, but far be it from me to criticize them. Who the hell am I?


I rarely read unless someone who knows what I like suggests a book to me. The stories i love have always come from anime and RPG games like final fantasy.

When someone says they are a writer but don't read, what they mean is they don't read books they watch cartoons/anime/and play rpg games.


Wow. Just wow. I can't get my head around this at all. I've been a voracious reader since I became a teenager. I've read something, many somethings, in every genre (well except romance). I don't think I'd be anywhere near the writer I am if I hadn't been well read. Equally, I've attempted to write in every genre (well except romance). This has helped me find my writing voice and my writing genre.

icerose
02-01-2008, 07:31 PM
Of course, I meant to say my love of reading.

EM,
who loves writing...mostly

Perhaps you're thinking too much on the technical side of things and not even looking at the story, not letting the story fill you up.

Imagine editors. They read crap and I mean soul killing crap every single day, yet at the end of it all, they still love to read. They went into their field for the love of books and because they are good at what they do.

There's a way to see the flaws and still love the story. There's a way to get through the blocks.

There's hope, don't give up on books. I would suggest when you finish whatever it is you are working on, take a break from writing. Pick up a book and read it, then pick up another book and read it, then pick up another book and read it. When you see a flaw, smile. We all have flaws.

cletus
02-01-2008, 07:39 PM
Wow. Just wow. I can't get my head around this at all. I've been a voracious reader since I became a teenager. I've read something, many somethings, in every genre (well except romance). I don't think I'd be anywhere near the writer I am if I hadn't been well read. Equally, I've attempted to write in every genre (well except romance). This has helped me find my writing voice and my writing genre.
You've been wasting your time SF. If you wanted to be a writer, you should have been watching cartoons or playing Dungeons and Dragons.

A wannabe writer that doesn't like reading is like a kid who wants to be a professional baseball player when they grow up, but doesn't like baseball. It's not going to happen.

Elaine Margarett
02-01-2008, 07:42 PM
I don't think I'd be anywhere near the writer I am if I hadn't been well read. Equally, I've attempted to write in every genre (well except romance). This has helped me find my writing voice and my writing genre.


Yes, I know this is important. I'm hoping the bazillion books I've read up until six years ago will have given me what I need.

Not being current is a big problem for me. I know I'm out of touch with the market. I've pick up a few recent mysteries and I'm going to struggle through them, come hell or high water! And I'm encouraged that the trend in romance seems to be swinging away from the types of books that have ruled the bookshelves; paranormal, fantasy, chick-lit. Not that these books won't continue to be pubbed, but the market has become saturated.

EM

Claudia Gray
02-01-2008, 07:44 PM
I honestly don't think it's jealousy in most cases, but I've always said that you're a whole lot better off noticing what other writers are doing well instead of obsessing about what they're doing poorly. It's easier to see the flaws, harder to appreciate the virtues, particularly of subtler points of characterization or storytelling -- but understanding what to do even more important than understanding what not to do. And I think a lot of people focus on what not to do, and the "rules" that published authors break, and so miss seeing a lot of the good.

Hapax Legomenon
02-01-2008, 07:50 PM
I probably only read 20 books a year at the moment (several would be non-fiction). I used to read one a day at least, until I was 20.

Oh God...

I used to read about one a week or every two weeks but the classes I've been through the last few years have forced me to read things that are so mentally exhausting (and occasionally emotionally exhausting) that I've only read about 15 books last year compared to the thirty some that I used to in middle school.

This reading is sucking out my soul...

icerose
02-01-2008, 07:53 PM
I do want to add that you're going to have lapses in your life when you don't read as much as you used to or as much as you'd like. I had a severe one for about 5 years when I had my three kids. I read like 3 books a year and I can tell you what, my writing SUFFERED. It really suffered. It didn't improve hardly at all and in fact, it got worse.

When I started reading again (amazing what getting sleep does for you) my writing shot upward at such a tremendous rate it was insane. My writing was improving so much each chapter was better than the other and I hit my million words of writing and it was almost magical. I have gotten even better since then and still have a ways to go. But reading made a huge difference for me. I don't imagine I'm unique in this respect either.

Elaine Margarett
02-01-2008, 07:56 PM
You've been wasting your time SF. If you wanted to be a writer, you should have been watching cartoons or playing Dungeons and Dragons.

A wannabe writer that doesn't like reading is like a kid who wants to be a professional baseball player when they grow up, but doesn't like baseball. It's not going to happen.

I think you're missing the point. He didn't say he never liked reading, but in the process of becoming a writer the enjoyment most people get from reading has been taken away from him.

It's not a choice. I wish it were. It's painful. I can read non-fiction without a problem. When I say I'm going to make myself read a mystery; it's just that. It's an effort, an assignment, work.

I read fiction when I critique. And I'm good at critiqueing. I can't honestly say I *love* someone's work, but I can and do appreciate good writing and I try to point out all the strong, positive things to the author, as well as make appropriate and kind suggestions for improvement. But again, it's work. Something I do so I can reap the benefit of someone's work on my behalf.

EM,
who's not usually so chatty :-)

BlueTexas
02-01-2008, 07:59 PM
I like other writers. That's why I read so much; that's why I hang out here. Even though I like some better than others here, I like them all better than normal people.

I love this - normal people! I heartily agree!

Mr Flibble
02-01-2008, 08:03 PM
This is it. The magic of reading has all but gone for me. It's got nothing, at least in my case, to do with jealousy of published writers. I just want the magic back.

Exactly!

It's like seeing a magic trick and saying 'ooooooh wow'. But when you know how it's done, it loses the ahem, magic :)

It has given me an even deeper appreciation for the authors I like though.

Willowmound
02-01-2008, 08:03 PM
my normal, completely unaccented voice

Wouldn't a guy from Jackson WY have an American accent of some sort?

Edit: Or a woman.

icerose
02-01-2008, 08:04 PM
It's not a choice. I wish it were. It's painful. I can read non-fiction without a problem. When I say I'm going to make myself read a mystery; it's just that. It's an effort, an assignment, work.


This is such a strange concept to me that I'm having a hard time grasping it.

I have been writing since I was twelve, seriously since I was 17. I finished my first novel when I has 18, got it taken in by PA (biggest mistake ever) when I was 19.

I am pretty good at critiqueing other people's stuff and when I read if I come across an error it jumps off the page. So I get that part.

I don't however feel a need to go hunting for errors, I don't feel the need to correct it, though mentally my mind substitutes in the proper piece and I keep going.

The difference.

I love the characters. I love their journey. I let them become real in m y mind. I follow them, I cry for them, I love their flaws, I love their hardships, I love every bit of the journey. I hate their enemies with a passion and laugh when bad things happen to them. I love their subtle injected humor and the skill with which it's all delivered.

I have never seen reading (outside a critique or class assignment) as work. It has always been a joy, an escape. I get to become part of these characters lives. I get to imagine myself in their place and everytime I read it fires up my desire to write a story that could stand proudly next to this one. One that deserves to find it's way into people's hearts and homes as this story did to me.

The next book you read, don't think of it as work. Attitude will have a heavy effect on you. Read the back, think of the characters, think of the story. If you want to read a mystery read a Mary Higgens Clark book. Her books are always excellent and they've never disappointed me in the slightest way. Loves Music Loves to Dance is really good, all of them are really. She's one of the few authors I read more than once.

Go in thinking "This is going to be a great story, I can't wait to see how she writes it, how it's delivered. I can't wait to savor the journey."

Go somewhere comfortable. If you like to read in the tub, do so, if you like to read in bed, do so. Put yourself in a comfort zone. Strip away your defenses. Go in knowing you will enjoy this book. Then read.

When you find yourself working, stop. Tell yourself to stop. Shut down that internal editor like you do when you're writing.

ETA Knowing the technical side to writing will never rob the magical side to reading. To me they are two different things. One is grammar, sentence structure, plot, flow. The other is story telling, and personality.

cletus
02-01-2008, 08:07 PM
I think you're missing the point. He didn't say he never liked reading, but in the process of becoming a writer the enjoyment most people get from reading has been taken away from him.

It's not a choice. I wish it were. It's painful. I can read non-fiction without a problem. When I say I'm going to make myself read a mystery; it's just that. It's an effort, an assignment, work.

I read fiction when I critique. And I'm good at critiqueing. I can't honestly say I *love* someone's work, but I can and do appreciate good writing and I try to point out all the strong, positive things to the author, as well as make appropriate and kind suggestions for improvement. But again, it's work. Something I do so I can reap the benefit of someone's work on my behalf.

EM,
who's not usually so chatty :-)
EM, I was actually agreeing with Shadow Ferret's post. His original post was in response to another poster who said:


I rarely read unless someone who knows what I like suggests a book to me. The stories i love have always come from anime and RPG games like final fantasy.


When someone says they are a writer but don't read, what they mean is they don't read books they watch cartoons/anime/and play rpg games.

Shadow_Ferret
02-01-2008, 08:11 PM
I do want to add that you're going to have lapses in your life when you don't read as much as you used to or as much as you'd like. I had a severe one for about 5 years when I had my three kids. I read like 3 books a year and I can tell you what, my writing SUFFERED. It really suffered. It didn't improve hardly at all and in fact, it got worse.

Oh, yeah, for whatever reason, I haven't completed a book since summer. Doesn't mean I haven't been reading. I'm just suffering from some distractions, AADD probably, but family for another. It's really hard to get into a book when you read a paragraph, "Dad!" Read another paragraph, "Honey!" Reread those two paragraphs again, "Bark, bark!"

Will Lavender
02-01-2008, 08:13 PM
I think a lot of folks are chalking up their diminished reading to becoming a writer.

I'm not sure that's it. I think it's just part of growing up. When you become an "adult," a lot of times books don't have the magic they did when you were a kid. Part of this is because kids' books are by their nature magical; another reason is that children do not often question the books they read, whereas adults are instinctively always looking for logic loopholes, inconsistencies, etc.

I still remember reclining with the Xanth series or discovering Stephen King in my teens. I don't read in the same awestruck way now, but I don't think it has to do with the fact that I'm a writer. Unfortunately, I just grew up. :e2cry:

Bubastes
02-01-2008, 08:22 PM
Exactly!

It's like seeing a magic trick and saying 'ooooooh wow'. But when you know how it's done, it loses the ahem, magic :)

It has given me an even deeper appreciation for the authors I like though.

See, that hasn't been the case for me. Knowing how a magic trick works makes it even more fascinating -- it must be the geek in me. I love seeing how things work.

Same thing with writing. Now that I understand the craft better, I respect the skill it takes to tell a story, even in a book that I think stinks. For example, I read Deception Point by Dan Brown last week. It's the worst book I've read in years, but I still had fun examining the elements that made it work well enough for others to like it. It also forced me to articulate WHY I didn't like it and apply that knowledge to my own writing. Reading widely helps me understand my own writing better.

There's something to learn in every book, even the bad ones.

ETA: at the other end of the spectrum, I also recently finished Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Pure magic for me. I plan to re-read it again soon so I can figure out what makes it so stunning. It sets a very high bar for me, that's for sure.

RickN
02-01-2008, 08:22 PM
Reading is one of the great joys in my life, so I don't understand how someone can dislike reading. I'm sure someone who loves ice hockey would feel the same way about me. :-)

But a writer who doesn't read? How else do you avoid common mistakes, cliches, overused plot lines, etc? Reading current authors can tell a writer soooooo much.

I guess you can read a book ABOUT writing. But, watching a porno film won't make you a good lover; reading a writing manual won't make you a good writer.

icerose
02-01-2008, 08:24 PM
I think you might be right, Will.

But for me I didn't lose any magic. I had to grow up when I was 11. Both my parents were diagnosed with terminal illness and my dad was forced into early retirement which destroyed his pension and we lost all benefits.

Being the youngest of 7 much was expected of us. Books were and are my escape, so if anything, they became more magical because this world could never be like those worlds.

Shadow_Ferret
02-01-2008, 08:25 PM
I'm not sure that's it. I think it's just part of growing up. When you become an "adult," a lot of times books don't have the magic they did when you were a kid. Part of this is because kids' books are by their nature magical; another reason is that children do not often question the books they read, whereas adults are instinctively always looking for logic loopholes, inconsistencies, etc.

I disagree. I didn't find the "magic" in reading until I discovered adult books, specifically fantasies and science fiction. Once I found the magical nature in those books I couldn't read enough.

RG570
02-01-2008, 08:25 PM
I don't like certain writers because they say really stupid things and seem bent on trying to destroy writing for future generations.

Certain writers who write stories in the New Yorker about how evil you are if you write ambitious literature instead of Hollywood trash. You know, jackasses with a bitterness that surpasses Rand's, whose stories are just axe-grinding and tell people how to write. Pedantic assholes who are jealous of big screenwriters who make a lot of money. Okay, I think everyone knows who I'm talking about now, eh?

I don't care how famous someone is. If they have stupid opinions and if I disagree with them, I won't hesitate to let it out.

But I think that's a bit different from OMG TEH DAN BORWN SUXORS OMG I WRTE BETER THAN THAT!!11one

That stuff is uncalled for.

Elaine Margarett
02-01-2008, 09:12 PM
I think a lot of folks are chalking up their diminished reading to becoming a writer.

I'm not sure that's it. I think it's just part of growing up.:


I've been a grown up for a very long time, lol. No, for me it was the writing that eventually turned off the pleasure I found in books.

I appreciate everyone's suggestions though, on overcoming my reading block. I'll give them a try.

:-)
EM

IceCreamEmpress
02-01-2008, 09:12 PM
Now, all that joy is gone. I don't know why. A lot has to do with the fact that as a writer I notice so much more when I read. I liken it to Dorothy in OZ looking behind the curtain at the little, weak man who's the wizard. The magic is gone.

I've tried going back and rereading my favorites...nothing. I've even gone to my Dr, for a RX for ADD. I've been told it could be PTSD due to my job...I'm a casulty photographer for the military, but I had this problem before I took the job almost four years ago.


May I make a recommendation? Audiobooks. Audiobooks read by talented artists might well break the "analysis paralysis" and let you enjoy the story again.

Chickenscratch
02-01-2008, 09:32 PM
Willowmound,
Only about 10 percent of folks in Jackson Hole (or less) are "from" here.
Got it right the second time! I be female. (Dang this custom avatar hierarchy.)

Grew up in the South, lost my accent somewhere near Denver and married a guy from Michigan while starting my 11-year-and-counting stint in Wyoming, and my town is full of Easterners without a Wyoming accent. I so easily pick up the speech patterns of those around me, nobody ever wins the guessing game of where I'm "from."

But back to the topic at hand: I second the audiobooks idea. Just make sure you like the reader's voice. A pompous voice is a deal-breaker for me. You can preview tracks on iTunes.

Willowmound
02-01-2008, 09:48 PM
Grew up in the South, lost my accent somewhere near Denver and married a guy from Michigan while starting my 11-year-and-counting stint in Wyoming, and my town is full of Easterners without a Wyoming accent. I so easily pick up the speech patterns of those around me, nobody ever wins the guessing game of where I'm "from."

An American accent it is then ;)

Claudia Gray
02-01-2008, 09:59 PM
I read less as I got older, but it wasn't about "growing up" -- it was about greater demands on my time. When you have a full-time job and a social life and an avocation, it's harder to make time to curl up with a book.

Happily, when I moved to New York and began commuting via public transit, I was guaranteed an hour a day that I could spend with a book. I don't invariably read on the subway, and I also read at home, but that was the biggest factor in increasing my reading again.

Inky
02-01-2008, 10:06 PM
There are a few published authors, namely here, that have no bones about showing their contempt towards those of us that are self published.

I smirk. They probably are the same individuals that stick their nose in the air towards those shopping at the Salvation Army vs Macy's.

Me? I really can care less how you're published, or even if you're working on your first piece. It's all about attitude. I loathe snobs; admire humanity.

Hapax Legomenon
02-01-2008, 10:08 PM
There are lots of books that I read that are okay, but it's rare that I find something really special.

Is that really so wrong?

Inky
02-01-2008, 10:12 PM
No. I feel your pain. It's been a lonnng time since I've gotten my hands on a book that consumes me in such a way as to put all life on hold until I finish it.
Dan Brown and Harlan Coben usually do this for me.....but they've yet to come out with anything new....grrrr...Amazon Alert is handy!

Ben_G
02-01-2008, 10:14 PM
I don't think knowing how a magic trick is done lessens the impact of it. As evidence, I offer the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H81A3bU68k The trick only works as well as it does because you're not aware of how much is being concealed and how much is being revealed, and where you're making assumptions. The "reveal" can be as entertaining as the trick itself.

And it's true. I've been reading books and had the writer perform a rather clever literary hat-trick, and gone, "Oooh, that's clever. I see what you did there." Usually followed immediately by, "I'm going to steal that technique for the story I'm working on; do you mind?"

You can't get up on a stage and do the magic trick without knowing how the trick is done. You'd look silly trying to pull a rabbit from a hat if there isn't actually a rabbit in there somewhere. If it "ruins" it for you to know how to manipulate your reader, what to reveal and what to conceal, or how to deliver a surprise, your work's going to be pretty flaccid.

As for being jealous of writers better than I am: I work in a pretty small and somewhat insular genre - it's a teeny weeny little market, really. Plus side: very little competition. Minus side: very few buyers. The other day, I happened to read a novel by someone who had had his book in this genre published around the same time as mine. As I was reading his, I kept thinking, "Aw, $#!+. It's good." Which meant that I felt that I would have to compete for attention among the limited buyers in this genre's fan base with someone whose work was far superior to mine. It's intimidating.

So I stole a bunch of his techniques and used them in my next story. Sweet!

Ben_G

Soccer Mom
02-01-2008, 10:18 PM
Oh, I love stealing techniques, only I call it "adding to my Writer's Kit" cause it makes me sound less larcenous.

But I take it, all the same.

aka eraser
02-01-2008, 10:31 PM
When young, I was a literary omnivore with a prodigious appetite. I devoured every book in sight, with very little discrimination.

At various stages of my life I narrowed my focus. I'd read hundreds of mysteries. Then hundreds of horror/supernatural books. I've read many thousands of SF&F over the decades and narrowed that category down to mostly fantasy in the last 15 years.

But in the last three years or so, I've only read about a dozen books. Partly it's because there's a been-there-read-that quality to much of what's being published in my favourite genre. Partly it's because I'm using my spare time in other ways. Partly it's because I haven't got bifocals yet and there's no getting around the fact I need them. Dang it.

As others have noted, it's entirely normal to become more discriminating and less patient when we get older. Old farts are aware there's an ever-dwindling amount sand left in the upper chamber of the timer, so why waste any of it reading a less-than enjoyable book?

But young (and young-ish) writers must read a lot if they want to become good, and then better, at what they do.

Mr Flibble
02-01-2008, 10:39 PM
If it "ruins" it for you to know how to manipulate your reader, what to reveal and what to conceal, or how to deliver a surprise, your work's going to be pretty flaccid.

It doesn't ruin it for me as a writer but as a reader, knowing how it's done lessens the magic.

For me anyway. Everyone will feel differently about it.

jenstrikesagain
02-01-2008, 11:12 PM
Somewhat related story, I found myself at a dinner table once with a World Champion Bagpiper. Okay, insert all your jokes here--as it happened I played for a bagpipe band at the time. I knew who he was, and he knew that I knew who he was, and I knew that he--anyway, he was possibly the most unassuming guy I'd ever met. I asked him some technical questions, he answered them, we talked of other things, he bought me a drink, even. I came away from this encounter realizing that people who know they're good, like being around other people who also know they're good, and don't need to tell you how good they are all the damn time. People who don't think they're any good, are the ones that need to point out how much worse everybody else is every five seconds.

Willowmound
02-01-2008, 11:23 PM
Me? I really can care less how you're published, or even if you're working on your first piece. It's all about attitude. I loathe snobs; admire humanity.


Hm, yes. I think the point is that being published by a publishing house is proof that at least someone in the business thought you had something to offer.

While being self published proves exactly nothing.

It doesn't mean that a self published author necessarily sucks. But he or she doesn't have that badge that says professionals have thought, "Yes, this could make us money."

I don't think that wanting that badge is about snobbery. I think it might have something to do with professional pride.

Which is why I won't ever self publish.

And no, I'm not professionally published yet either.

PiggyGirl
02-02-2008, 01:22 AM
I'm not jealous of anyone, but I do envy some folks. Instead of hating them I strive to incorporate those things that impress me. (Obviously not to the extent of copying.)

I've learned, from reading hundreds of books in my genre, what does and doesn't work. My inspiration for writing came from my love of reading combined with my desire to share my own stories.

You can't write a good story without reading. That'd be like walking before crawling.

KTC
02-02-2008, 01:24 AM
This just in: Any writer who says they don't read is an IDIOT.

DWSTXS
02-02-2008, 01:34 AM
I think it's just petulant jealousy......and if I ever talk to a (so-called) 'writer' who doesn't read.......the 1st thing I'm going to ask him is: have YOU been published? We're in the age of instant gratification, and some people can't handle not getting/having what they want, and there's are oodles of people out there who think that, just because they WANT and DESIRE something, that that want and desire should entitle them to HAVE it. When they don't get it, they throw a tantrum, and drink their haterade and put-down those who DO have it (because they worked for it)

I personally don't like (and don't read) fantasy/sci-fi, horror....HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that I think those writers don't have talent. I know they do. And I know that not everyone likes what I like, or even agrees with me (thank God for that).

Some people just can't have a nice day unless they know someone else is having a bad day.

BlueLucario
02-02-2008, 01:41 AM
It's really difficult to find a book that's interesting. That's why I look at reviews before buying books or going to the movies. I just want to see if it's worth the money. You can't get a refund for bad movies. And you can't get a refund for paperbacks.

BlueLucario
02-02-2008, 01:41 AM
This just in: Any writer who says they don't read is an IDIOT.

QFT. They lack any common sense.

Hapax Legomenon
02-02-2008, 02:13 AM
I couldn't agree more. I would hesitate to say those people who say 'do it this way or else' fall into the latter. Without variety, and everyone's personal style, it would be a pretty boring place.

I have a child who is an auditory learner. She learns best by hearing things repeated to her, not by reading. Her favorite books are manga and she has a collection that is now worth thousands. Bookshelves line her walls. When she reads "regular" books, she chooses fantasies and I keep her stocked. I think perhaps people with learning disabilities or different learning styles don't necessarily read as voraciously as the rest of us. Nothing wrong with it. But I would guess it makes it tough to write. Even when I hate the last book I read, I know what NOT to do. :e2cookie:

I have more manga than actual books.

Then again, I have a tendency not to sell old manga at garage sales, and you can't exactly get it at the school library, so thus it accumulates in truly vast quantities.

I do like to read, but I like to read when I'm supposed to be doing something else. Like when I'm at school, and supposed to be 'learning,' I'm usually reading. I need something trying to distract me if I'm trying to read. :(

What keeps me reading a book is style. If a book doesn't have a style that I don't like (which, a lot of them don't) sometimes they get difficult to read, especially in the middle. I end up slogging through them, which isn't much fun at all. I tell myself to try to be less picky, though.

SageFury
02-02-2008, 03:08 AM
You are going to learn really fast that this doesn't work on a number of levels.

1) You are more apt to "steal ideas" if you are unaware of the other ideas circulating in the literary field.
2) Learning to perform any task, whether drawing, painting, dancing, or writing, REQUIRES imitation. You must crawl before you walk. Apprentice painters copy the masters before they learn to create on their own. Dancing would be meaningless if you never learned the steps because you want to be "original." It is only within the structure of the form itself that you can express your individuality. (Yes, deep, I know. ;))
3) The idea that you are going to come up with a completely new idea is absurd. We're all telling the same stories over and over again. It's HOW you tell the story that matters, and you can't do that well unless you've seen how others do it. Writing is not an isolated pursuit. It's a conversation with readers and with other writers.

I could go on but if I haven't convinced you I'm not going to. I think your next post pretty much says it all:

I have never liked people using that saying, that you can never be original or have a new idea of your own...

You don't have to do anything to have your own ideas... And telling the same story over and over again? Umm yea its hard to tell the same story over again if you don't read others and from scratch make up your own world that you see fit. (I know you meant same story concepts but using the term so vague is bull.)

Yes concepts can relate but thats inevitable, with the endless thoughts going through an individuals mind anything is possible... To not accept this is to hold yourself back. Its very close minded to tell people they can't have original thoughts, it's like telling Edison anyone can make a light bulb you accomplished nothing...


If you had actually read any traditional French lais (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lai), composed during "the old castle days" (the medieval period, I assume), or perhaps some Bardic poetry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardic_poetry), you would understand that your statement that "bards had no style" is utterly false.

And you have read into my statement wrong, obviously they had some style and form of presentation and much different methods, I simply meant compared to what we do now, the measures we take is so much compared to the minor stuff they went through when they expressed their stories. And yes i was referring to the medieval period.

I did not think I had to break down the explanation.

Also note that not everyone thinks like you, we all have our own ways of thinking including, creativeness, choice, upbringing, influences, life experience and much more that stands between everyone and everyone...

*If you reply keep it civil*

SageFury
02-02-2008, 03:13 AM
I think you're missing the point. He didn't say he never liked reading, but in the process of becoming a writer the enjoyment most people get from reading has been taken away from him.

It's not a choice. I wish it were. It's painful. I can read non-fiction without a problem. When I say I'm going to make myself read a mystery; it's just that. It's an effort, an assignment, work.

I read fiction when I critique. And I'm good at critiqueing. I can't honestly say I *love* someone's work, but I can and do appreciate good writing and I try to point out all the strong, positive things to the author, as well as make appropriate and kind suggestions for improvement. But again, it's work. Something I do so I can reap the benefit of someone's work on my behalf.

EM,
who's not usually so chatty :-)

Thats exactly it, thx for understanding =)

Ravenlocks
02-02-2008, 03:46 AM
And you have read into my statement wrong, obviously they had some style and form of presentation and much different methods, I simply meant compared to what we do now, the measures we take is so much compared to the minor stuff they went through when they expressed their stories.

I dunno, I think having to write in verse is way harder than writing prose. They had a lot more form and structure to their writing than the modern novel does. I remember reading things like Le Chanson de Roland and the ballads of Francois Villon, which have a definite and very specific poetic structure. Damned if I could ever write like that.

And Celtic bards went through a grueling training process which I believe involved memorizing a canon of poems by previous bards, although I'm hazy on that; it's been a while since I researched them.

IceCreamEmpress
02-02-2008, 03:46 AM
And you have read into my statement wrong, obviously they had some style and form of presentation and much different methods, I simply meant compared to what we do now, the measures we take is so much compared to the minor stuff they went through when they expressed their stories. And yes i was referring to the medieval period.

That's inaccurate. Bardic performances in the Middle Ages were highly stylized and much more formal than most styles of professional writing today.


Ravenlocks is absolutely correct--the preparation, training, and memorization of prior art and convention that medieval European bards went through dwarfs the education of today's writers.

icerose
02-02-2008, 03:56 AM
I have never liked people using that saying, that you can never be original or have a new idea of your own...

You don't have to do anything to have your own ideas... And telling the same story over and over again? Umm yea its hard to tell the same story over again if you don't read others and from scratch make up your own world that you see fit. (I know you meant same story concepts but using the term so vague is bull.)

Story time! Back when I was seventeen I came up with this awesome idea that I had never heard of anyone using.

It was about this kid, her parents are killed by an evil wizard and she's given a special wand that she buys through a wand shop. She goes to a wizard school and has wizard friends and is threatened by a dark wizard who over time tries to destroy her.

She later has this magical journal that she can ask questions to by writing in it and it writes back.

Any elements sounding familiar yet?

About the time I wrote 'The End' Harry Potter became famous.

End of Story.

SageFury
02-02-2008, 03:58 AM
That's inaccurate. Bardic performances in the Middle Ages were highly stylized and much more formal than most styles of professional writing today.


Ravenlocks is absolutely correct--the preparation, training, and memorization of prior art and convention that medieval European bards went through dwarfs the education of today's writers.

I do agree i wont deny but look at our world today... How fast does our pace of life go exactly, all the pressures and family crap, and society and etc. This is on top of trying to write and such finding time to do whats necessary.

Memory today is a rare thing at least where I live back then memorization at least had a chance and distractions in todays world compared to theirs...

I'm on the fence still


Story time! Back when I was seventeen I came up with this awesome idea that I had never heard of anyone using.

It was about this kid, her parents are killed by an evil wizard and she's given a special wand that she buys through a wand shop. She goes to a wizard school and has wizard friends and is threatened by a dark wizard who over time tries to destroy her.

She later has this magical journal that she can ask questions to by writing in it and it writes back.

Any elements sounding familiar yet?

About the time I wrote 'The End' Harry Potter became famous.

End of Story.

Since you shared your story i'll share my theory.

I don't believe everything is made up...

If you think about it, you could just happen to be tapping into a real world far away and documenting a real history that has or had taken place long ago. They say our radio waves broadcast beyond earth and tv signals the same and is possible to reach other living worlds why not our thoughts as well?

"Talking about deep"

lostcheerio
02-02-2008, 04:13 AM
I dunno... I went through a long period of not reading anything written in this century. Partly I think it was to avoid being influenced, then just because I was enjoying myself. I guess I just felt like there was a whole lot of stuff I should read first. Stuff I should have read in college, in grad school, or... by now. :) Of course, I did get over it.

But to say that you don't read... AT ALL... because everything is too garbage, and offends your exquisite sensibilities? That just betrays unforgivable ignorance. I've never heard anyone actually say that, though. You may be dealing with mythological characters, these writers who don't like to read. ;)

SageFury
02-02-2008, 04:16 AM
I dunno... I went through a long period of not reading anything written in this century. Partly I think it was to avoid being influenced, then just because I was enjoying myself. I guess I just felt like there was a whole lot of stuff I should read first. Stuff I should have read in college, in grad school, or... by now. :) Of course, I did get over it.

But to say that you don't read... AT ALL... because everything is too garbage, and offends your exquisite sensibilities? That just betrays unforgivable ignorance. I've never heard anyone actually say that, though. You may be dealing with mythological characters, these writers who don't like to read. ;)

Everyone reads, whether it be the newspaper, subtitles or even a letter, everything tells a story within the given context =)

icerose
02-02-2008, 04:22 AM
I don't believe everything is made up...

If you think about it, you could just happen to be tapping into a real world far away and documenting a real history that has or had taken place long ago. They say our radio waves broadcast beyond earth and tv signals the same and is possible to reach other living worlds why not our thoughts as well?

"Talking about deep"

I very strongly disagree with you but this isn't time for this kind of discussion, we're talking about to read or not to read and the reasons behind it.

I believe the very basic of every single story has been told. Heck The Matrix wasn't even original, just the presentation of it. That story type goes back to Aristotle's time period and probably even before that.

Reading widely let's you know how stories have been told before so you can tell your own story your own way.

But I absolutely do not believe there are any 100% original stories left. Just the way they are told.

icerose
02-02-2008, 04:24 AM
Everyone reads, whether it be the newspaper, subtitles or even a letter, everything tells a story within the given context =)

But if you are making your profession out of writing, you need to do more than passively absorb it.

It's like saying a doctor can skip med school because there are instructions on the packages the tools come in.

Or a lawyer can skip law school because the newspaper prints new laws every now and then.

This is our profession. Books are our training, our teachers. Either you're willing to learn or not but it's not going to just passively find it's way into your brain by reading the newspaper once a month.

SageFury
02-02-2008, 04:33 AM
But if you are making your profession out of writing, you need to do more than passively absorb it.

It's like saying a doctor can skip med school because there are instructions on the packages the tools come in.

Or a lawyer can skip law school because the newspaper prints new laws every now and then.

This is our profession. Books are our training, our teachers. Either you're willing to learn or not but it's not going to just passively find it's way into your brain by reading the newspaper once a month.

...I'm getting the idea that you don't think I read books or do research... yet I never said anything of the sort...

I agree (To be a writer) you need to research, and should read some books on the subject matter to get a handle on structure. you don't have to read millions of books to be a writer, all your required is creativity to hook you're readers into your story.

This topic is becoming a witch hunt in my opinion at this point *if you don't read this many books get outta here* is the message I'm starting to get from it.

Mr Flibble
02-02-2008, 04:42 AM
...I'm getting the idea that you don't think I read books or do research... yet I never said anything of the sort...

Possibly because you said this :


I rarely read unless someone who knows what I like suggests a book to me.

Kind of implies you don't read much at all.

icerose
02-02-2008, 04:42 AM
I never made or meant to make assumptions on how many books you read nor am I interested in knowing. I was merely responding to the content in your posts and the arguments your presented.

I don't believe there's a limit or a requirement in how many books you need to read, but I do believe very strongly (in case you couldn't tell) that reading and reading widely is necessary to the learning of the craft.

You are free to completely disagree with me as is your prerogative.

SageFury
02-02-2008, 04:48 AM
Possibly because you said this :

Kind of implies you don't read much at all.

I could be in a book club... with 30 people giving suggestions and such... =) i mean 50 books could be a lot to one person a month and nothing to another.

Mr Flibble
02-02-2008, 04:50 AM
Possibly you should have made that clear?

The way you presented it sounded as if you were only getting your stories in through other media.

SageFury
02-02-2008, 04:53 AM
Possibly you should have made that clear?

The way you presented it sounded as if you were only getting your stories in through other media.

yea i have trouble expressing myself in text chat =)

icerose
02-02-2008, 04:55 AM
yea i have trouble expressing myself in text chat =)

And you're trying to be a writer? :Huh:

Very lost now.

(No disrespect meant in this post, I am genuinely confused.)

Mr Flibble
02-02-2008, 04:55 AM
yea i have trouble expressing myself in text chat =)

which is ...writing?

You learn from the people who do it well - other writers. If you don't study, you can't learn.

SageFury
02-02-2008, 04:59 AM
which is ...writing?

You learn from the people who do it well - other writers. If you don't study, you can't learn.

Quick summery:

I'm a slow thinker, takes my a while to think things through, so i suck at fast replies

If you look at most of my posts, they are all edited, if it showed the count on each it would be +3 times just about

Don't have to be quick to write a book, but discussions is one heck of a drawback ~_~

icerose
02-02-2008, 05:01 AM
Quick summery:

I'm a slow thinker, takes my a while to think things through, so i suck at fast replies

If you look at most of my posts, they are all edited, if it showed the count on each it would be +3 times just about

Fair enough. Good luck with your writing endeavors.

Chasing the Horizon
02-02-2008, 06:47 AM
I'm a writer who doesn't read very much. (Unless I get to count AW and eBay, in which case I spend 5+ hours every day reading :D ). I'm certainly not saying I never read, just that I'm not what you'd call an 'avid' reader. I watch more movies than I read books (though this might not be the case if I could read a book in two hours). I do agree that someone who's never read a book isn't likely to be able to sit down and write one (at least, not a very good one). But I don't think you have to have read the whole fiction section of a library in order to become a good writer, nor do I think you have to have read huge amounts of the genre you write. I've probably only read half a dozen fantasy books in my whole life, but that doesn't keep me from writing it. A story is a story. My stories happen to have dragons and magic, but the heavy contemporary influence from my own reading and movie preferences keeps even cliché elements from coming off 'as expected'. I credit my lack of interest in reading fantasy for my beta readers saying my books 'feel like they're happening on a real world'. That real world isn't Earth, but it feels comfortable and familiar, which it should, because the characters have never known any other world. I firmly believe this is because the world is presented in a writing voice that was trained by contemporary fiction rather than fantasy. I like my books this way, and so do my betas.

Don't underestimate how much you can learn about story structure and presentation from movies either. Good movies won't take the place of reading, but they can teach a writer a lot if the writer's creative enough with implementing the techniques. I think a writer should seek out good stories wherever they can find them (except stage plays. Ugh, the one medium I universally hate. Even Sweeney Todd is only good as a movie.)

bluemoonscribe
02-02-2008, 07:55 AM
What you've described is the exact reason I only took one creative writing class in college. My classmates were like hyenas on a fresh carcass during critiques. They pounced on the least little spelling or grammar error, ignoring plot and pacing. Or they slammed the plot and style as inane, stupid, etc. The dialogue was always "trite" and "boring."

And sadly, the people who were the most smug and vicious, had the least to offer in terms of solid style, plot, and characters. They wrote countless stories about misunderstood, underappreciated adolescents who finally got their revenge in some way.

And I don't read as much as I used to because every time I sit down to read, I start thinking, "I should working on my stuff, right now." And I can't relax and enjoy myself. I'm a neurotic soul.

PinkUnicorn
02-02-2008, 01:39 PM
But when you're in the middle of a manuscript, you have to be careful WHAT you're reading, if anything. I am so impressionable, I'll be out to lunch with a friend and I'll start picking up on a British accent two tables over. Before long, I'm mixing "Cheers" and "'allo" in with my normal, completely unaccented voice.


OMG! I've actualy done this! Only with me it happens after spending 7 or 8 hours of watching Doctor Who straight through.




I don't know a published author that doesn't recommend reading a lot...I listen to authors I respect and who have been in the business a long time and they all say the same thing:

Write everyday and read a lot...


I agree. The best writers tend to be well read, and they recommend reading a lot. Stephen King recomends reading for 4 hours per day! AWK! I wish I had enough free time to spend 4 hours per day reading. I love to read, and would read more than I do if I had more "alone time" so I could just sit down a read.



I have always been quite selective as to what I'll read, so either I just am not interested, or I respect a writer deeply.

I would have to agree with this. I too am very selective in what I read. I love to read, and if you ask me to read a book, I will, but I can not garuntee I'll like it.

Generaly I only truely enjoy a very limited type of books: classic space opera, sci-fi, certain types of fantasy, gothic romance, monster-ghost story-haunted house horror, YA mysteries, YA sci-fi, and pre-teen chapter books (Pippi Longstocking and Bailey School Kid and Bunnicula type chapter books). (Yes I am an adult who reads kids books... they are just so much fun to read!). I also like the 1800's classics. Thing is, you step outside of those topics-genres and you will totally lose my interest.

So for me, you will not find me rushing out to buy the latest best sellers, simply because most of those types of books do not interest me. That is not to say they are not good books, or that the authors are not good writers. It just means that my interests lie elsewhere, and I prefer to read things that grab my (raher fleeting and limited) attention span.



Quick summery:
I'm a slow thinker, takes my a while to think things through, so i suck at fast replies

If you look at most of my posts, they are all edited, if it showed the count on each it would be +3 times just about

Don't have to be quick to write a book, but discussions is one heck of a drawback ~_~


I can identify with you on this. I have dyslexia, so I have to read each post a couple of times before I can get the full meaning of what is being said.

I also have to go back and edit my posts 3 or 4 times each, because of the dyslexia, causeing me to spell in phonetic or reverse spellings, or just skipping (forgeting to type) words entirly.

Writing can be as fast or as slow as the writer needs it to be, but in an online forum, it can be hard to keep up and hard to get your full meaning across quickly. Of course, that is why we edit and revise our manuscripts so many times before they can be published, so it stands to reason that we'd need to edit and revise forum posts as well.

KikiteNeko
02-27-2008, 05:15 AM
I'm not sure. I can't say I'm jealous of published writers except to be jealous that they're PUBLISHED. When I don't like a book, it's disappointment because I'm out X amount of money. And when I read a great book that I love, I get really motivated and inspired that I, too, can someday affect someone the way said book affected me.

I know you listed Alice Sebold as an author you admired. I will say I enjoyed The Lovely Bones very much. She has a lovely narrative that is very tightly woven and admirable. However, when it came to the way she ended it, I felt that she destroyed the very story she herself worked so hard to build. And I did get a big "if this were MY story, I would have done this...." But I don't think that's a bad thing, is it? A writer friend and I spend a lot of time discussing books, and what we would have done if said book had been authored by us, or where we think the author went wrong or hit a great high.

I think it's just that I don't really see things entirely as a reader, the same way a construction worker might not be able to look at a building the way the rest of the non-construction workers would. Or when I worked at starbucks and had to take weeks of coffee classes and learn how to distinguish tastes, now I can't even look at a freaking cup of coffee and see JUST coffee anymore. But that's just me. Rant over. Thanks for listening. ^^

KikiteNeko
02-27-2008, 05:18 AM
More than that, for me, is the amount of time. If I have the option between a 2 hour movie and a 10-15 hour book, that better be a gripping and fantastic 10-15 hours.




(There's also something to be said about the financial state of things. When it costs $26 for a hardcover and $10 to get into a movie, then the writer or filmmaker better darn well deliver.)

KikiteNeko
02-27-2008, 05:46 AM
Insecurities run amok. I understand the frustration of being unpublished. Some days it puts me in a bad mood, and I'm sure I'm not alone. I do get the impression that some people are especially rough on the writing of their peers because they're frustrated. Content people don't point guns at their ex-husbands.




She was caught with a gun trying to shoot her ex-hubby. Needless to say, she wasn't looking for a critique in her writing. She would probably have hunted me down and threatened my life had I gave her one. Oh, she never sold work or made anything from her writing.

Hopcus
02-27-2008, 05:47 AM
There are still many writers I love and I love reading in general, but the more I write the more critical I become of people's work (including my own). I think it's part of the learning process. It's not that I hate books or anything, I'm just evaluating them more thoroughly.

bluntforcetrauma
02-27-2008, 07:27 AM
there are those who would rather sit in coffee houses and expound their philosophy rather than sit at a desk for all the time it truly does take in fine tuning the art of writing.

Coffehouse types make me nauseous.

Sean D. Schaffer
02-27-2008, 09:28 AM
I'd say, to the OP, that it's a combination of jealousy and frustration. Jealousy because a lot of us think we can write better than so-and-so who is published; and frustration, because many of us have never been published.

What gets me the worst, though, is when someone claims -- like NiNi's coffee house example -- to know oh, so much about writing, and they're not actually writing. :( It gets old, listening to a guy in a computer store tell me how to write a novel, and then say of himself "I'll write a book when I have some time."

This ties in with the frustration part, because I think a lot of unpublished writers (I know this is how I am, anyway) don't see the troubles that published writers go through every day. It's as though we see them for their success, yet never realize the work it took them to get there.

As for not reading, I used to be like that, about three years ago. I had just written a book and got it "Published" with a disreputable company, and I thought I didn't need to read anymore. I have since learned that my imagination dries up if I don't read. I need to read, now, and thankfully, I'm willing to admit to it. :)


--Sean

Drama Queen
02-27-2008, 10:29 AM
Even Sweeney Todd is only good as a movie.

Them's fighting words. ;)

DonnaDuck
02-27-2008, 08:37 PM
To answer the OP, with serious unpublished writers, those that have their head on straight, I think it has less to do with jealously than what people think. Do we read a book and go 'dammit, I can write better than that'? Sure but the smart ones don't dwell on it and bash the book to hell. They'll actually write a better book. I think the more jealous someone is, the more insecure they are about their own writing and need to compensate.

As for frustration, yeah, it's frustrating to see "bad" books become best sellers and such but again, the level-headed ones don't dwell. It's a waste of time.

The same as Hopcus, the better writer you become, the more your editor kicks into gear even when you're reading for leisure. I know with me, most of the time I can turn it off unless the writing is truly awful. Then I put the book down.

While there are books out there that I don't like, I'm not damning the authors into the fiery pits of hell and cursing them to no end because that should be me. Then there are some authors that I just don't like as people. Anne Rice is one of them. She's terrible to her fans and is pretentious and ego-maniacal to boot. I stopped reading her work because of this. I find a lot ofher work unreadable simply because it's so overwritten that it oftens meanders into the land of pointless. Not to mention she feels her writing is gold from the beginning and works without an editor. That rubs me the wrong way and adds into her pretension in my eyes.

But you know what? The writing community is just that, a community. We're not contractually obligated to love one another. We don't even have to like one another. We're allowed to not like another author's writing or another author but I think having a legitimate reason in doing so gives different meanings to different people. I don't like Anne Rice not because I'm jealous of her success. I don't like her because I don't like her personality, first and foremost and even before I was college educated I thought her writing was longwinded. I was never able to get through Lestat in the Vampire Chronicles because of it. I'm allowed to think these thoughts.

It's interesting because since coming to this board I've gotten the notion that many people think as writers we have to hold hands and sing shiny happy people with each other. Why? Why can I not like an author because I think her personality sucks or not like a book because I think it's poorly written? I've seen intelligent dislike for a book or author get construed as bashing and said out of jealousy when that just isn't the case. We're not obligated to like every book we read or love every author we come across, just as all those non-writers out there are allowed to do the same thing. I don't understand why we're held to such higher levels because we, too, are writers. I don't like everyone I work with either and it's not in the employee handbook that I have too.

She Raven
02-27-2008, 09:10 PM
One word: Bitter
Stay away from negative people, they sucked the life out of you. Writing is art, and all art is subjective. I work in the medical field and know lots of doctors that think their opionion is better than others. They will be living a loney life if they keep blurting out this kind of banter from thier mouths. LOL.

laurel29
02-27-2008, 09:40 PM
Stories can be told in different ways and still be good, they just have to be written in the form we are use to reading them in... look at manga, left to right, what the heck were they thinking...


I have to admit I'm confused by most of what you wrote, but this part in particular stood out to me. Manga reads right to left, or were you talking about how they sometimes flop it so that some readers can feel more comfortable? That would make more sense to me (complaining what were they thinking flipping it,) but most of the manga I've read has kept the traditional right to left format. *scratches head*

I love to read. I can't imagine wanting to write a book if I didn't like reading. Editing is such a P.I.T.A. for me that I have so much respect for someone who can actually write several drafts of a novel and get it published. I admire writers who persist long enough to be published whether it takes them a couple of weeks or several years.
It is certainly not an easy task for most people and anyone who makes it deserves a bit of praise.

vrabinec
02-27-2008, 10:26 PM
I don't read nearly as much as I did before I started writing. But I have a nice collection of books and, if I'm not happy with the way a scene sounds in my MS, then I check out a couple masters who wrote similar scenes to see how they handled pace, detail, etc..

RGame
02-27-2008, 10:43 PM
I've written quite a lot of posts on this forum over the years.

I don't read any posts by you people, though.

You're all hacks.

Terran
02-27-2008, 11:39 PM
Reading is how I relax before bed its how I deal with the boredom of long waits and reading is how I recharge my creative batteries. I don't understand why someone would want to write if they don't first have a love for reading.

Ken
02-27-2008, 11:57 PM
I'm ashamed to say I fit in with the category you're describing.
I despise all modern-day writers, but I do like the old classics, from the 1800's. I think if you want to be a published author this is definitely not the way to go, but if you hope to break new ground and truly create something unique and entirely personal then you just have to divorce yourself from modern day culture, which has the potential to steamroll ones personality to the point where you sound just like everyone else when you write, which is a great thing if you're aiming on attracting readers, but ultimately not a great thing for the art of writing in general, which in my opinion is in a major recession.

But of course I'm just crying sour grapes, most likes.

HeronW
02-28-2008, 12:18 AM
Keep the wack jobs out of your head space. Fellow critiquers should let you know your warts and your glories. In Critters --an online critiquing group for fantasy/horror/scifi, a few years ago this fellow had an awkward style, stilted lines, and on and on--but I loved his idea! His MC was built fairly well too. I gently offered suggestions intersperced with 'this is good, what if...' and he didn't hate me. I learn more by seeing others' mistakes and bless 'em when they find mine--just makes both of us better.

IceCreamEmpress
02-28-2008, 12:44 AM
I despise all modern-day writers

To be very frank, I think this says a lot more about you as a reader than it does about "all modern-day writers."

I don't think there's any way that someone with an open mind could "despise" ALL modern writers. There's just too much variation--literally millions of books have been published around the world in the last 25 years.

Ken
02-28-2008, 02:28 AM
attn: IceCreamEmpress

overcoming the very difficult task of disagreeing with somebody who'd seem to love icecream as much as me :) I toss this out in defense of my hatred for modern-day writers being based on the quality of modern-day literary works:

Though millions of books have been published in the last 25 years, as you say, and seem to be incredibly varied that is only because we're looking at them through contemporary eyes. A hundred years from now when people read books from this era they will undoubtedly see very distinct similarities between all books now being produced, just as we ourselves do when we read books from a particular epoch in history.

But of course I may well be wrong. All I am sure of is that I just don't care for new fiction and haven't read any in over a decade, whch will most likely limit my chances of success as a writer and relegate me to obscurity. Sigh.

IceCreamEmpress
02-28-2008, 06:47 AM
But of course I may well be wrong. All I am sure of is that I just don't care for new fiction and haven't read any in over a decade, whch will most likely limit my chances of success as a writer and relegate me to obscurity. Sigh.

I seriously think you're not an open-minded reader, then. Who's your favorite writer from the 19th century? I guarantee that I can name three contemporary writers who are just as good--and as good in the same ways.

There was a lot of dross in the 19th century, too. Except for Dickens and Twain, most of the 19th-century best-sellers of the US and UK are long forgotten.

Polenth
02-28-2008, 08:20 AM
But of course I may well be wrong. All I am sure of is that I just don't care for new fiction and haven't read any in over a decade, whch will most likely limit my chances of success as a writer and relegate me to obscurity. Sigh.

If you were published, wouldn't that mean you'd become one of the modern day writers you hate?

KikiteNeko
02-28-2008, 08:32 AM
Okay, I thought of a point I'd like to add to this. First of all, I think new writers can begin as just writers. When I was a kid, I wrote more than I read, and I didn't like many books. HOWEVER, to become a serious writer, and a masterful one, you need to be able to read a book. Unless you're some sort of genius who knows all about plot intricacies and character development and how to grab a reader's interest. Most new writers, and this is probably every one of them, begins writing for his or her own self, with little to no awareness of an outside audience's input. It takes time and it takes a willingness to read.

But here is my comparison. A writer who claims to be above published authors (and maybe they're above some, because published doesn't always equal great) is like my ex-boyfriend, who is insane.

One day, while we were dating, my ex told me that everyone could fix his or her own problems by just dismissing them. If you're bipolar? Have postpartum? Just dismiss it and you're free. He said so confidently.

I said, darling, baby, sweetheart, have you studied psychology at all?

He said, and I quote, "I don't have to poke myself in the eye to know it would hurt. And I don't have to study psychology to know what it's all about."

And thuryago.

james1611
02-28-2008, 09:06 AM
For writers to say "I don't read" is like for restauranteurs to say "I don't eat."

As for criticizing other authors/books, I don't know whether it's jealousy or just a heightened sense of the craft of writing. I know when I became a writer, I was more aware of everything writing-related, and became more easily annoyed by nits and what I'd learned as "bad writing practices." And I must admit that I also admire and feel jealous about good writers (and hopefully in a good, motivating way). It's also easier to lose sight of what's important beside the mechanics of fiction writing: first and foremost, the art of storytelling.


I've seen people criticize those who've been successful..."Paolini stinks or Rowling can't write" but these writers and others have hit a nerve with readers because their stories are interesting to people...obviously!

In the end, good writing is that which will touch people in some special way and make them very glad they took the time to read your work and cause them to mark the calendar for your next release :)

If you're going to write songs, you better know your instrument of choice, but you don't have to be the flashiest or fastest...only find that special arrangement that touches the soul...same with writing a good story I think.

James

Ken
02-28-2008, 04:06 PM
attn IceCreamEmpress:

Dostoyevsky is definitely my all time favorite, from the 1800's, and I challenge you to come up with a contemporary author who offers a fraction of as much insight into human nature and reality in general. Another complaint I have with modern works is that they're full of sex and violence and tons of gimmicks to catch readers attention. In some ways the general public is to blame for this. They've become such a lazy lot, incapable of focusing on anything unless it reads like a rollercoaster ride. TV and the stupid internet are very much to blame. As to your final point of my not being open-minded I guess I am not when it comes to my literary tastes, but what of it? I think if you want to develop a powerful voice in your writing you have to be rather close-minded about such things as themes and ways of telling tales. Otherwise your stories begin to have a wishy-washy feel, which is actually very in these days, but not for me.

ps Ever try Turkey Hill icecream? It is the absolute best. :)
pps I do read some modern Y/A books, by Gary Paulson and Jean Craighead George, which are top notch, I have to say. "Hatchet," ahh, now there's a book!

Ken
02-28-2008, 04:23 PM
"If you were published, wouldn't that mean you'd become one of the modern day writers you hate?"

Quite possibly, Polenth, though I hope you're wrong, as it would be kind of awkward to have to go around saying: "I despise myself," to others.

IceCreamEmpress
02-28-2008, 08:33 PM
attn IceCreamEmpress:

Dostoyevsky is definitely my all time favorite, from the 1800's, and I challenge you to come up with a contemporary author who offers a fraction of as much insight into human nature and reality in general.

Percival Everett; Ian McEwan; Julio Cortazar; Marguerite Yourcenar; Fred d'Aguiar; Thomas Bernhard; Flannery O'Connor; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Naguib Mahfouz; Chinua Achebe; Pat Barker; Dorothy West...

Need I go on? I love Dostoevsky, too. And every one of these writers has as complex, nuanced, and compelling an outlook as he (and some of them have a much more musical prose style).

By the way, these folks are just in the "serious books about Big Issues" category. I could give you 10 other authors who are geniuses of more character-centered, more humorous writing who have more complexity and depth than Dickens.

I mean, for heaven's sake! Gary Paulson is a very good writer. But to love him and "despise" Ian McEwan or Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Pat Barker is just short-sighted in the extreme. They're not even engaged in the same project.

Aggy B.
02-28-2008, 09:13 PM
I've come across a strange trend in writers, namely fellow unpublished writers that I talk to on a regular basis. When I ask what their favorite books or writers are, they claim they "don't read", or are "unhappy with all the writing in (insert the genre they write in here)" or "Can't really respect the published writers because of their flaws." They then proceed to tell me that's why they are a writer of XYZ genre because they believe they can fix the flaws, or can do better, or etc.
...
Is it just a weird sort of egotism?

Yes, it's egotism.

At the same time I'm sure that most of us at some point or another (probably even recently) have picked up something and thought "I could have done better than that." I don't think that makes me bitter or jealous. I do the same thing every time I look through my "work" folder on my computer or shuffle through all the bits and scribbles stuffed in my desk.

And there are a few authors I won't read anymore. I was a huge fan of the Robert Jordan books (Wheel of Time series) when I was in high school. Then I read the original four Dune books. Kind of soured me on Jordan and I never picked his books up again. That doesn't mean I think other people should stop reading Jordan, just that I lost my taste for his work when I realized how much he had borrowed from Herbert.

Long and short is, if your acquaintances don't read then they are idiots. (And I'm talking long-term not reading. Everyone has periods where they are literally to busy to pick up a book.) If all they do is complain about how all published authors are hacks and/or they don't take criticism then they aren't serious about their craft and probably not the best group to interact with.

But that is just a newbie's $0.02.

ishtar'sgate
02-28-2008, 11:16 PM
I despise all modern-day writers, but I do like the old classics, from the 1800's. I think if you want to be a published author this is definitely not the way to go, but if you hope to break new ground and truly create something unique and entirely personal then you just have to divorce yourself from modern day culture, which has the potential to steamroll ones personality to the point where you sound just like everyone else when you write, which is a great thing if you're aiming on attracting readers, but ultimately not a great thing for the art of writing in general, which in my opinion is in a major recession.

But of course I'm just crying sour grapes, most likes.
O-o-o, you hurt me deeply.:D But I'll get over it. I write historical fiction and one of my biggest fears was sounding like some other historical writer so I simply didn't read historical fiction until I'd established my own voice and sold my first book. Now I can enjoy it.
Linnea

Ken
02-28-2008, 11:33 PM
Holy Cow Ishtar!!!
That is a main reason that I (secretly) avoid contemporary fiction, for fear of sounding like other contemporary authors. (I'm very impressionable.) And you know, when and if I have a book of my own published (several centuries from now) I will probably start enjoying contemp lit just as you're now delving in the historical stuff.

But before that I think I will take up IceCream's suggestion and read at least one of the authors she recommended. She sounds like a good cookie and a knowlegable one at that. (Is there a book she hasn't read?!)

Best Wishes, Both :)

Nateskate
02-29-2008, 12:28 AM
I don't think it's 100 percent ego, or 100 percent jealousy. I'd say that much more has to do with taste, and acquired taste. Also, some people just aren't good readers, and I fall into that category- perhaps I'm ADHD, because I really have to fight to focus and keep my place. So certain types of pacing and writing styles are extremely difficult for me.

I'm a Tolkien lover, but when I first read him I didn't really get him. In a sense, he had to grow on me. But he's one of few authors I'll ever read his books twice, and that included the Silmarillion, which I love.

Likewise, when I started The Magician's Nephew- by C.S. Lewis, I thought his style was awkward- but then I fell in love with the series and read all of the Chronicles of Narnia.

I've really had a hard time getting into my own Genre. Epic Fantasy. This year I've tried a sampler of many of the famous fantasy authors of our generation.

I think what I really love is fairy tales and Mythology, which sometimes falls into the category of fantasy. Tolkien's Silmarillion- LOTR are very much like Mythology written in novel format. The Hobbit and Narnia are more like fairy tales written in Novel format. I gravitate towards those kinds of books.

Keffington
03-01-2008, 10:40 AM
I think it is a phase that some unpublished writers go through. The bitterness, I mean.

It's not a healthy way to look at it, though. Even after you look at the fact that you need to read books to learn how to write them, well... there's the business of the matter, too.

If you want to be a published writer, then contemporary, working writers are going to be your colleagues. They'll be the people with work next to yours on bookshelves, they'll be the people sitting next to you on convention panels, or standing next to you in the bar. While there are some people who are full time editors, there are also published writers working as editors for magazines or book companies.

It just strikes me as strange for people to want to be a published part of the industry, but claim to hate everything about it. On the plus side, a lot of those cranky unpublished writers will eventually grow out of it. :)

I also suspect that a lot of "writers who don't like other writers" are not being honest with themselves regarding their own writing goals.

Ken
03-01-2008, 06:06 PM
Writers should listen to their gut instincts and do whatever works for them. If reading a lot of contemporary fiction helps them to improve, then that's what they should do, no questions about it.

On the other hand, if a writer, like me, feels that avoiding modern lit and sticking to the time-tested classics is the route to take than they should continue doing so.

There's no one formula for becoming a good and successful author. You really have to map out the course for yourself, while listening to advise from others, of course, via this swell site.

IceCreamEmpress
03-01-2008, 09:51 PM
Writers should listen to their gut instincts and do whatever works for them. If reading a lot of contemporary fiction helps them to improve, then that's what they should do, no questions about it.

On the other hand, if a writer, like me, feels that avoiding modern lit and sticking to the time-tested classics is the route to take than they should continue doing so.

I think this is quite wise. However, there's a huge difference betweens saying "I choose to read fiction of the past" and "I despise contemporary writers".

anis, dear, I hope you don't feel that I'm whopping you personally about the head and shoulders with this; I think you're the cat's pajamas no matter how much we might disagree. But your comment upthread touched a nerve--you see, you're far from the first person I've encountered saying that.

I knew someone in grad school who was all "Oh, publishing today is all Stephen King and Danielle Steel, and I only read James Joyce!"

Of course, James Joyce's sales were minuscule compared to writers of his era like E. Phillips Oppenheim and Edgar Wallace and Harold Bell Wright and Mary Roberts Rinehart. I'm sure there were people in that era saying, "Oh, publishing today is all Harold Bell Wright and Mary Roberts Rinehart! I only read George Meredith!"

And people in Meredith's day were all "Oh, publishing today is all Marie Corelli and Ouida and Anthony Hope! I only read Victor Hugo!"

And so on and so on, all the way back to The Frogs, by Aristophanes, which is about this very "they don't write 'em like they used to" frame of mind.

Heck, I'm sure there were people in ancient Sumeria saying, "Wax tablets? You read wax tablets? The last good tablets were the clay tablets!"

Keffington
03-02-2008, 03:00 AM
Writers should listen to their gut instincts and do whatever works for them.

I apologize if I offended you. My intent was to talk about the sort of unpublished writer that I believe the original poster was talking about. Basically, I have run across people who are openly disdainful, or who seem to openly dislike anybody who actually works as a current writer/editor. That just seems unfortunate to me.

As far as WHAT people read, I suppose the biggest issue is just whether or not you are reading BOOKS at all. (One of my own personal favorites is Les Miserables, and that's hardly a new book.)

steveg144
03-02-2008, 05:10 PM
I think a lot of it is jealousy and resentment, a combination of "how did that no-talent hack make the best-seller list" and "why ain't I on the best-seller list?" But on the other hand, let's be honest -- a lot of it is part of that massive ego that artists in all artistic forms need to keep them motivated to keep plugging away. If a Van Gogh or a Faulkner or a Nietzsche didn't look at what's come before them and then think "I can do better," then they'd never bother starting. It takes a lot of ego (in both the bad and good senses of the word) and a lot of belief that one can surpass the best in one's field to make a go of writing (or painting, or acting, etc etc). Humble, self-effacing people tend not to be successful in the artistic realm.

Devil Ledbetter
03-02-2008, 05:38 PM
Back before I was attempting to get a novel published, if I didn't care for a particular author, it was simply because I didn't care for the writing style or the holes in the plot. But now that I'm an aspiring fiction writer, if I don't care for a particular author it's only because I'm "jealous and resentful"?

I'm really surprised to hear adults saying this. I have a daughter in fifth grade, and among her classmates "she's just jealous" is the standard response to any criticism levied by other fifth graders.

I reserve the right to dislike sloppy writing or overly purple prose, even in bestsellers, without being labeled bitter. Crap writing is still crap writing, whether the person who criticizes it is an aspiring author or simply a reader.

Ken
03-02-2008, 06:47 PM
RE: Limp Noodles

In all honestly, I over-exaggerated, to draw attention to my comment, to keep it afloat in this sprawling thread, full of great and thought-provoking replies, like yours. I don't despise modern authors, but just don't dig where they're coming from and what they're saying.

As to their writing ability, itself, I think modern-day writers are phenomenally skilled in getting a story across to readers and establishing believable realities and characters, to the point where their fictional realms literally leap off the page. The thing is, I'm just not into doing this, myself. Somewhat of an existentialist, of sorts, I want my characters to limp about like wet noodles from one page to the next and for the worlds they inhabit to resemble ruinous wastelands, because to me that is what reality in essence looks like.

So by reading old books, like Jane Eyre, which I've just started (no laughter plz), I'm not really trying to learn how to write good, but rather how to scrawl poorly, by contemporary standards, to give my own tales a stagy and artificial feel, while somehow hoping to do this well enough so that the metaphysical intent of my purplish prose comes across, which may prove impossible.

-think your the cat's pj's too, Icecream :)
-listened to an abridged version of Les Miserables on audio cassette. Great tale.
-steveg144: I agree with 3/4 of your very profound reflection. To do it justice, I'll have to think about for a bit before making a reply. Plz check back in a day or so.

virtue_summer
03-03-2008, 06:03 AM
I would suggest that some of this "trend" actually comes from people who don't have any appreciation for the written word but think it's easier than trying to get into the fields they do appreciate. Seriously, I can't tell you how many people I've run across who suggest that they really want to be writing screenplays or working in some other more visually oriented field (usually it's movies, though) but think that novels are easier to get published so they'll do that instead.

The problem is that everyone knows how to write (or at least, how to put words on paper) so it's not mysterious and it doesn't seem hard to them. In fact, the general public seems to think that writing is the easiest field in the world to get into. No craft to it. After all, we all learned to write in school. And publishing? Easy as cake. I mean they never hear about down and out fiction writers like they hear about starving actors. All they hear about are the JK Rowlings and the Stephen Kings. They think that anything that's sent to a publisher is published. So they think they'll take what they love from other fields and somehow copy that into a novel. You can usually tell these writers because when they talk about their novels it's always in reference to movies or television shows. "Oh, it's like CSI", or "Yeah, it's inspired by Star Wars" Of course their attempts aren't likely to be successful because, having no appreciation for fiction writing, they don't understand the strengths of the form and how to use this to their advantage.

WildScribe
03-03-2008, 06:11 AM
-listened to an abridged version of Les Miserables on audio cassette. Great tale.


I'm almost halfway through the full novel... It's fascinating mostly because it fleshes out the play for me, which I already adore and have seen half a dozen times. Then there are times when he spends (literally) 45 minutes describing the battle of Waterloo, complete with what everyone said and where everyone was standing and who shot who, just to get to the point that one side character was a camp follower and not a soldier, and I feel like my eyes are about to bleed. I have to admit, I've started to skip irrelevant chapters as I find them...

Ken
03-03-2008, 03:28 PM
Nothing wrong with "skipping irrelevant chapters." It actually takes discipline to do that, to go against the desire to read the whole book so you can gloat at the end, "I read the whole thing!" Reading for writers is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Wish I could follow this edict myself, for simply put I love being able to say, "I read the whole thing!"

icerose
03-03-2008, 06:43 PM
Back before I was attempting to get a novel published, if I didn't care for a particular author, it was simply because I didn't care for the writing style or the holes in the plot. But now that I'm an aspiring fiction writer, if I don't care for a particular author it's only because I'm "jealous and resentful"?

I believe this is aimed more at aspiring authors who say they don't like any books period. When they say there are NO good stories anywhere. I mean with 250,000 books published each year, chances are there's going to be some good ones.

The point of this thread isn't to put down those who don't like certain books, it's to try and decipher the reasons as to why "writers" of all people, would claim they hate to read or hate all published books, or all contemporary books.


For example what this thread isn't about:

I recently read the prequel to Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series. I went in expecting it would be a pretty decent book. To me the passages were extremely choppy. The situation was unreal. The captain (who had been trained from birth to be a warrior) was a total idiot. I mean he had to ride like 10-20 miles if that and instead had his warriors who were already beyond exhaustion in a frozen wasteland without tents, without proper provisions, wearing metal armor that still froze beyond their wool undies, couldn't make camp fires, and had been out there for an entire year, to save the horses. For what? Make the horses run, get there quickly, then sleep, while waiting with one or two scouts. Then he stands his army out for all to see at the top of the pass waiting for the other army to come instead of hiding and ambushing once they go close enough to hit with their arrows. So they lose that opportunity.

Then he has these sister's something who are waiting for something and for three pages rambles on how disciplined they are that they don't even notice the cold window open and that they are freezing to death because they are oh so disciplined when all they had to do is get up and close the freakin window! Then add in all this extra information and names just piled in.

Needless to say it drove me absolutely crazy and I stopped there. I don't feel an ounce of jealousy or ill feelings or anything toward Robert Jordan and his books. They are simply not in a style I care for. I don't think anyone begrudges anyone else to right to say WHY they don't like a particular book. It's the writers who say "It sucks" with no reason or explanation that they then try to figure out why.

Ken
03-03-2008, 10:32 PM
attn steveg144:
speaking of Van Gogh though, I sure did dig that movie on him, "Lust For Life,"
which also featured Gaugain. Artists and writers like them who have something original to say really do have to be ego maniacs, as you say, because they're standing up against the entire world, single-handedly, and saying to it point blank, "You are mislead. This is the way things really ought to be."
Individuals like these are, of course, few and far between, numbering 1 in 100,000,000 or more. For the rest of us writers and artists we are only rehashing what's been done countless times before, in a slightly different way, which is important too, as the tiny strides we make help set the stage for geniuses such as these.

RumpleTumbler
03-03-2008, 10:39 PM
I just wish writers would bathe.

When I attend anything with writers I always feel like I'm the only one that didn't just crawl out of a dumpster.

Siddow and Ben are clean. ;)

DonnaDuck
03-03-2008, 10:42 PM
I just wish writers would bathe.

When I attend anything with writers I always feel like I'm the only one that didn't just crawl out of a dumpster.

Siddow and Ben are clean. ;)

For the record I bathe daily. I can vouch for the conventions of the horror kind that are of the similar, um, wafting. *shudder*

Jenan Mac
03-03-2008, 10:50 PM
I've come across a strange trend in writers, namely fellow unpublished writers that I talk to on a regular basis. When I ask what their favorite books or writers are, they claim they "don't read", or are "unhappy with all the writing in (insert the genre they write in here)" or "Can't really respect the published writers because of their flaws." They then proceed to tell me that's why they are a writer of XYZ genre because they believe they can fix the flaws, or can do better, or etc.

Yet these writers who don't respect other writers generally seem to be sub-par/have a lot to learn and refuse to listen to anyone/can't see the flaws in their own work because they haven't read anything of the genre. Is anyone else noticing this trend? Is it just a weird sort of egotism?


When I started writing regularly, it was in a genre I hadn't read much. I made a point of reading popular books in my new genre, and yeah-- it was easy to see what Author X had done wrong because I was acutely aware of errors in my own writing. Things like head-hopping would just jump out of books and smack me. OTOH, Author X may indeed head-hop like the demon offspring of a brain virus and a crazed kangaroo-- but she's sold fifty-gazillion copies, so I can just keep my opinions in perspective, y'know?

Jenan Mac
03-03-2008, 11:02 PM
See, that hasn't been the case for me. Knowing how a magic trick works makes it even more fascinating -- it must be the geek in me. I love seeing how things work.


That's it exactly. The only bad part is that I've solidified a habit of reading the end first to see the resolution of the story, so I can enjoy the crafting of the journey from chapter one to chapter thirty-whatever without having to worry where it ends up. It makes perfect sense to me, but I'm told it drives other people nuts.

Jenan Mac
03-03-2008, 11:16 PM
I do agree i wont deny but look at our world today... How fast does our pace of life go exactly, all the pressures and family crap, and society and etc. This is on top of trying to write and such finding time to do whats necessary.


We, as a society, have much more leisure time than in past eras. We just find more things to put into that time. Example: a few years ago I was working fulltime, raising two kids alone, nd going to school fulltime. Yeah, I was busy. But busier than my grandmother, who was a farmer and a midwife? Busier than my great-grandmother, with six kids and a husband out to sea? Busier than the cave women trying to keep the toddlers away from the T Rex (yes, I know I'm mixing eras, I'm going for a moment, work with me)? No, I dn't think so. I wish my ancestors had had time to write, but the average woman in a working family was too exhausted by the time she got a moment of peace.

tammay
03-12-2008, 01:06 AM
I think one of the problems may be that we seem to be moving away more and more from written communication and written art (I know that sounds awkward, but I can't find another way of putting it :)). I've been reading a book about the whole gang of expatriot writers in Paris in the first few decades of the 20th century (Hemingway, TS Eliot, those guys) and it amazes me how much the written word was valued and how an artistic community emerged where writers were the real movers and shakers.

Today it seems like people just don't have the patience for reading or the appreciation for it. I teach writing courses (not creative writing - I wish!) and I see how the quality of writing has deteriorated and seems to deteriorate with every generation. This has nothing to do with intelligence, but just that we're getting less practice writing.

That said, I also have a few writer friends who do read a great deal in their genre and many of them are of a "younger" generation, so I can't say this is all around.

As for myself, I've always had a thing for old stuff - old books, old movies. So I'm more inclined to pick up a Dickens novel than a King novel :D.

Tam

dragoon_elf
03-12-2008, 02:03 PM
I'm a writer and I don't like Christopher Paolini.

:roll:

Cav Guy
03-12-2008, 06:53 PM
Back before I was attempting to get a novel published, if I didn't care for a particular author, it was simply because I didn't care for the writing style or the holes in the plot. But now that I'm an aspiring fiction writer, if I don't care for a particular author it's only because I'm "jealous and resentful"?

I'm really surprised to hear adults saying this. I have a daughter in fifth grade, and among her classmates "she's just jealous" is the standard response to any criticism levied by other fifth graders.

I reserve the right to dislike sloppy writing or overly purple prose, even in bestsellers, without being labeled bitter. Crap writing is still crap writing, whether the person who criticizes it is an aspiring author or simply a reader.
It's also worth noting that even the published authors don't like everything they read. King doesn't really name names, but he makes it quite clear that there are authors (some successful ones to boot) that he doesn't care for at all.

Just because something's published doesn't automatically make it "good," at least not for every reader. I'd also contend that having a preference isn't egotism. I don't claim my writing's necessarily better than some published stuff I've seen...I just don't care for it and try to avoid following that sort of style and format. Sure, there are snotty unpublished authors, but there's also a wide assortment of assholes/jerks/whatever in every occupation. Part of human nature, I suspect.

Jenifer
03-12-2008, 07:27 PM
I reserve the right to dislike sloppy writing or overly purple prose, even in bestsellers, without being labeled bitter. Crap writing is still crap writing, whether the person who criticizes it is an aspiring author or simply a reader.

Yep, yep, and yep!

I'm a pretty tolerant reader. I can grumble and roll my eyes through a few pages of indulgent description to get to the good part. If there's a good part. If I can't find my happy place within a book, I find someone that might enjoy it and pass it on. I love all of the books on my shelves... hoard them, even.

I've met people who think all "x-genre" books are ignorant tripe, and people who "don't have time" to read... makes me sad. My mom is one of the latter, and has plenty of time to read... but hasn't found a book that can really hook her yet. I've been feeding her some of my favorites, but they're my favorites, so they're not necessarily going to grab her. What else can you do?

ACEnders
03-12-2008, 08:32 PM
I read. I read all kinds of books. I LOVE to read. I don't have a jealousy for published authors. What irritates me is when these published authors break all the rules that the agents warn us unpubs not to break - telling when they should be showing, using flashbacks constantly, prologues - or when I see a published book that doesn't read smoothly or can't follow grammar rules.... this sort of thing makes me angry, and I wonder why they are published, and I can't even find an agent. I'm not saying I'm a better writer than they are at all, but if they get to break the rules, why can't I?

MDSchafer
03-12-2008, 11:46 PM
Writing is a profession, and if you want to be a writer you must also be professional, and that means not bad-mouthing other wirters. There is a lot of writing I don't personally care for. I really don't enjoy one of my friend's series, but I read them and give her honest, critical feedback, and buy 5 copies a year to give out to friends and family.

At some point you have to cross the line from fan to professional, and that means being diplomatic in how you treat other writers. That means not becoming jaded and posting angry/drunk thoughts on your blog/message board. Flame wars earn you nothing. Fellow authors can steer publicity and writing assignments your way, you don't earn anything by being mean to them.

Dave.C.Robinson
03-13-2008, 06:29 AM
I don't read as much as I once did, but I still read regularly. Lately it's been mostly comics and graphic novels, but not manga. (As an aside I figured out why I have problems with at least the manga the kids have: each word balloon has only a fragment of a sentence so it feels like I'm reading a bad William Shatner imitation in slow motion.)

Having said that, there are some writers I like, and some I don't like. There are others I like some of their work but not all of it. As an example I loved the afterwords Piers Anthony put in the Xanth novels, but could only read the first three or four books in the series. I like Harlan Ellison's articles and opinion pieces and hate his fiction (though he did write a good Batman comic once). I still love Robert E. Howard, and also Edward Streeter's "Father of the Bride."

As to authors I don't like I usually trace it to two main reasons. The first comes from my understanding of writing. I think there are many different aspects to writing, ranging from character through plot, tone, theme and a host of other things. Each writer is normally better at some aspects of the craft than others. Each reader finds some aspects more appealing if done well or more grating if done poorly. I believe popular writers who I don't like are those who are better at one of the aspects of the craft that's less important to me than they are at the aspects that are.

The other reason has to do with voice. I have a very finely tuned and particular ear for language. Some writers can hit that note perfectly and I'll read anything they write. Other writers can consistently miss it and I can't read more than a paragraph. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are an example of the latter for me. I cannot read their works because everything sounds off and clunky; their style is a complete mismatch to my ear. It also doesn't help that I find they completely lack the gift of names.

Having said that I still support both wide reading and especially wide reading in one's own genre. It does help.

kzmiller
03-13-2008, 08:47 AM
The folks in question may be suffering from a malady I suffered from when I started writing. I didn't become jealous but I found it frustrating. I couldn't see the flaws in my own writing enough to understand why I wasn't getting published. Now when I read my early stuff I find myself thinking the same critical comments I got back in the day. It makes me chuckle now to think "great idea, but the prose needs help. Too much passive voice," etc but at the time it was frustrating. I did wonder at times if other people were blind, but being a humble sort I assumed it had to be my problem and I had to figure out that problem. Thank goodness I did that!

Basically by declaring their prose above and beyond what's being written they're being willfully blind to the problems and, strangely, the promise in what they're producing. Believe me, I was as baffled trying to figure out what was working for people as I was trying to figure out what didn't work. When they refuse to read they refuse to unravel the mystery that is transmission of a world into another human being's brain. By refusing to believe their own prose is anything but publishable they refuse to learn and grow. But hey, that's less competition for the publishing slots out there! If they're not people you care about let them live in their delusion. If you care about them, I hope that over time they'll learn the error of their ways and come back into the community.

lute
03-13-2008, 09:18 AM
Claiming that they don't read, for whatever ludicrous reason, is ridiculous. It doesn't make sense to me, to sell a product that you don't believe in. It's so counterintuitive.

Wait, why are these people claiming to be writers again? Have they captured the true essence of writing? I doubt it. Perhaps that is why you're seeing their writing as immature and with the most flaws. They could possibly be so wrapped up in their own ideas that they're not seeing the whole picture. Perhaps they just need time to find where they stand?

I don't know about any of you, but I write because it's something I love and because I have been inspired by so many people and stories throughout my life. Once I realized that, I knew that I wanted to contribute and make someone feel the same way about my stories. Cutting down other authors or books needlessly is not the kind of attitude we need to have. :\

I also think that generalizing all of the publishers in a certain genre as having flaws is shallow at best. Regardless of the fact that it isn't possible to know these things if they don't read to begin with (barring every single book in a single genre), it sounds like a poor attempt to boost one's ego, to give oneself a little pat on the back.

Of course everyone will have their opinions. I have a small list of authors that I don't care for, and others that I adore and read regularly. It's the nature of humans. However, what you described is a whole different beast in itself. I don't think there's much of an excuse for it.

EDIT: Sorry if that came off a bit strong. I just hate to see this kind of attitude in the writing community... it throws me into a bit of a tiff. :(

Daimeera
03-13-2008, 09:26 PM
I need to read if I want to write--it's that simple.

I didn't realise it until just recently. I was having trouble writing anything; I had no inspiration, no desire, nothing. I thought it was because I was an a lot better mind-space in regards to depression and such, and that was bitter sweet.

But then I read the Harry Potter books (finally). And when I finished the last one, I wanted to write SO BADLY and I did. And I'm inspired again.

I don't think I ever realised what an impact reading had on my writing because for so long, I hadn't stopped reading. But then I got busy and it got away from me. Now I know what to do and I'm counting down the hours until I can get to the bookstore or library and find some new material.

Ken
03-13-2008, 10:12 PM
Writing is like baking bread. All sorts of ingredients can be used. The loaves currently being produced are as scrumtious as ever, but if you examine the labels you find they're full of artificial additives, unlike loaves of yore that were made of wholesome ingredients, sprung up out of the earth.

Cranky
03-13-2008, 10:27 PM
I must be a little weird, because unless the writerly sins are completely egregious, I never notice them. I am, first and foremost, a reader, I guess.

RJLeahy
03-13-2008, 10:37 PM
I believe there is also a generational component to this discussion. I was a child during the time when television was a fairly new medium. If you lived in the city as we did, you might have been lucky to get 4 or 5 stations--max-- and there wasn't much in the way of children's programing except on Saturdays. Not that it would have mattered. With one tv to a household, you watched whatever dad wanted to watch anyway. :)

I bring this up because for my generation and those before, reading was THE form of entertainment. I can remember hiding a flashilight under the covers at night so I could secretly finish the latest CS Lewis book. When a habit forms at such a young age, it tends to stay with you.

As others have pointed out, a child growing up today has many more enticements for his attention than we did; hundreds of tv channels, video games, the internet, etc. While they may still love to read, I think it's a love that's harder to maintain throughout a lifetime. After all, fidelity isn't so hard, when yours is the only girl in town.:)

JBI
03-13-2008, 10:53 PM
It has nothing to do with jealousy. I confess I don't like about 95% of todays writers, but it isn't because I am jealous of their sales, it is because I contain a personal vision of what literature should look like, and should do, whereas these people contradict my beliefs, goals, and aesthetic preferences. Grisham, Brown, Rowling, Koontz, etc. I find don't do any justice to literature, and are contributing to its downfall. That doesn't mean I am jealous of them, otherwise I would rather envy the rich, than the successful authors.

Ken
03-13-2008, 11:13 PM
* Gives JBI a standing ovation! *

(excellent quotes too)

icerose
03-13-2008, 11:57 PM
Writing is like baking bread. All sorts of ingredients can be used. The loaves currently being produced are as scrumtious as ever, but if you examine the labels you find they're full of artificial additives, unlike loaves of yore that were made of wholesome ingredients, sprung up out of the earth.

Have you ever read Shakespear? Greek Mythology? Talk about artificial ingredients! Teen sex, incest, suicide (lots of suicide) outrageous monsters, affairs, cross dressing, murder, so on and so forth. Just about every element in modern day literature was there too.

I don't believe literature is spiraling, simply adapting to the modern world. If you look at the basic elements, they're still all the same, just different symbols.

IceCreamEmpress
03-14-2008, 12:21 AM
Grisham, Brown, Rowling, Koontz, etc. I find don't do any justice to literature, and are contributing to its downfall.

Every age has best-selling potboilers that are not written with an emphasis on literary skill.

Jane Austen was one of the greatest novelists ever. And she was surrounded by so many horribly-written, over-the-top melodramatic page-turners that she wrote an entire book skewering them (Northanger Abbey).

George Eliot was also a great novelist. Want to read an hilarious rant she wrote about the crappy novels of her day that outsold her? Silly Novels by Silly Lady Novelists (http://library.marist.edu/faculty-web-pages/morreale/sillynovelists.htm) is a work of genius.

Alexander Pope, a poet for the ages, was so overwhelmed by the horrible work others were writing that he penned an entire epic about it: The Dunciad. (http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1628.html)


I'm not impressed by people who say "Literature today isn't what it once was" and only cite blockbuster potboilers as evidence. Every era has had blockbuster potboilers, all of which outsold the classics we treasure today.

If you want to read good literature of the 21st century, you have to look for it. We have the benefit of centuries of critical review when we go to the bookstore for the literature of the 18th and 19th centuries: the crap doesn't get reprinted. But people who were looking for Middlemarch or Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary at the time it was published had to pick through the reams of dross written by of those eras' equivalents of John Grisham and Danielle Steel to find the good stuff. You should do the same.

Ken
03-14-2008, 12:59 AM
Have you ever read Shakespear? Greek Mythology? Talk about artificial ingredients! Teen sex, incest, suicide (lots of suicide) outrageous monsters, affairs, cross dressing, murder, so on and so forth. Just about every element in modern day literature was there too.

I don't believe literature is spiraling, simply adapting to the modern world. If you look at the basic elements, they're still all the same, just different symbols.

Good point, I've got to admit. But for me, personally, I'm just selective about what I like and don't feel I'm doing anything that unforgivable by choosing not to read anything modern, but instead focusing in on past literature.

I'm trying to nurture a particular voice and style in my writing and reading modern works would be counter to that, not because modern lit isn't good. On the contrary many modern works are superb, but just aren't headed in the direction I am. As weird as it may seem I want to learn how to write poorly.

Old books are great for this, especially the really atrocious stuff that has not got reprinted like "Charlotte Summers." Of course I also want to write skillfully too and old books are great for this as well. Reality is a junk heap amid a stinking wasteland. I want to reflect that in my works and words.

ps Will be picking up "Silly Words" for sure.
Ben Johnson had some critical things to say about his contemps too I think. (Or was that Samuel Johnson?)

Craig Gosse
03-14-2008, 02:10 AM
This has gotten to the point where it reminds me of a discussion I once overheard between a gourmand and a gourmet... (*Grin*)

I like to read. That's about the sum total of it. I can appreciate different books, different styles, for what each brings to the table; but I don't shun others on the same basis. Sometimes I feel like Medallions de boeuf a la scandinave, sometimes I just want a good 'burger. As long as each dish is well prepared...

Some of my favorite authors? Here's a partial list:

Tom Clancy
Alexandre Dumas
Spider Robinson
Robert A. Heinlein,
Thomas Malory (via Caxton)
Clive Cussler
Dashiell Hammett
Issac Asimov
David & Leigh Eddings
Larry Niven
Arthur Conan Doyle
Terry Brooks
David Weber
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Dave Duncan
Rudyard Kipling
Harry Turtledove
Stephen Hunter
Jeffery Deaver
James Patterson

sandyn
03-14-2008, 02:35 AM
I had my behind handed to me an hour ago at my writer's group by a person like the OP mentioned. As we were leaving, one of the other member's told me he's just jealous.

Mind you, he was right on about several technical things, but overall, he ripped me up just to show us he knew more than we did. He also thinks all writers publishing today are hacks, and utterly unreadable.

If I ever become one of those people, someone shoot me.

I belonged to a writer's group in Florida. New members couldn't even sandwich in a reading, much less get any substantial assistance from most of them. They were too interested in their 'core' group and nobody else really stood a chance.

I can sympathize with ya'...and I, too, hope I never become so snobbish.

As for reading, I'd almost give up breathing before I'd give up reading.

JBI
03-14-2008, 06:50 AM
Every age has best-selling potboilers that are not written with an emphasis on literary skill.

Jane Austen was one of the greatest novelists ever. And she was surrounded by so many horribly-written, over-the-top melodramatic page-turners that she wrote an entire book skewering them (Northanger Abbey).

George Eliot was also a great novelist. Want to read an hilarious rant she wrote about the crappy novels of her day that outsold her? Silly Novels by Silly Lady Novelists (http://library.marist.edu/faculty-web-pages/morreale/sillynovelists.htm) is a work of genius.

Alexander Pope, a poet for the ages, was so overwhelmed by the horrible work others were writing that he penned an entire epic about it: The Dunciad. (http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1628.html)


I'm not impressed by people who say "Literature today isn't what it once was" and only cite blockbuster potboilers as evidence. Every era has had blockbuster potboilers, all of which outsold the classics we treasure today.

If you want to read good literature of the 21st century, you have to look for it. We have the benefit of centuries of critical review when we go to the bookstore for the literature of the 18th and 19th centuries: the crap doesn't get reprinted. But people who were looking for Middlemarch or Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary at the time it was published had to pick through the reams of dross written by of those eras' equivalents of John Grisham and Danielle Steel to find the good stuff. You should do the same.
That is a silly sophism. Statistics show that reading is greatly decreasing, and that fewer and fewer people are reading those which you would consider great. I didn't say that these sorts of people didn't exist. You are sticking words in my mouth to unleash your own verbal rant. Like you said, Pope, Austen, Eliot, they all wrote against the popular slush of literature. If anything, that just agrees with my theory, instead of attacks it. I didn't say I don't sift through literature to find the good stuff, you did. I personally don't read those authors, nor much genre fiction in particular, but that doesn't mean I have to like them, in fact, it means I should hate them.

The fact that barely anyone reads poetry anymore is due to the fact that poetry has been mishandled, and mis-taught for too long. How many people do you know that pick volumes of poetry up from the book store? Very few. The fact remains that writers, and critics are both contributing to a decline in the interest of literature, and a decline in the quality of literature being produced.

Stephen King was awarded A National Book Award for lifetime achievement, and influence on American letters. Do you think that should happen?

Yes, idiots have been awarded life-time contributions in the past for mediocre work, and will again, but that doesn't contradict my argument, just fuels it.

Next time, instead of pretending to contradict me, just state that you agree.

IceCreamEmpress
03-14-2008, 07:04 AM
That is a silly sophism.

No, it isn't.

You're saying that today's pot-boiler writers "contribute to the decline of literature". They do not. Every age has had pot-boiler writers.

The drop in sales of published books is not because of Stephen King, who's a much better writer than many of the pot-boiler bestsellers of earlier ages (Stephen King has real characters, unlike Marie Corelli or Harold Bell Wright; his plots make sense, unlike Sax Rohmer's or Ann Radcliff's; his books have a central moral compass, unlike E. Phillips Oppenheim's or Ouida's).

The decline of published literature, today, is largely because there are many other sources of entertainment available. When motion pictures were introduced, readership declined; when radio was introduced, readership declined; when television was introduced, the same thing happened; with the Internet, the same thing again.

Your argument is silly, especially because it has been made again and again throughout the ages. Ann Radcliff's popularity didn't keep Jane Austen from writing; E. Phillips Oppenheim's popularity didn't keep James Joyce from writing; Marie Corelli's popularity didn't keep Charles Dickens from writing. Barbara Cartland's dozens and dozens of crappy books didn't keep Pat Barker from writing the Regeneration Trilogy, either, any more than the reams of Mickey Spillane and other crap kept Ralph Ellison from writing Invisible Man.

There have always been workmanlike writers who focused on markets and sales, rather than on art, and who hugely outsold the serious work being produced in the same era. Only time can make a classic.



Next time, instead of pretending to contradict me, just state that you agree.

Wow, that's impressive!

No, I'm happy to agree to disagree. But I could not possibly disagree with you more.

Ken
03-14-2008, 03:39 PM
Another factor involved is the expense of books, back when.
In the 19th century they cost more (I think) so the average citizen did not have access to them to the extent that one does now. So besides there not being TV and the movies to compete with writers were also writing for a different audience back then, which was substantially more educated and cultured than now. As such, they could write in a more sophisticated manner and not have to resort to pyrotechnics to maintain their audiences. That is partially why even best sellers from past eras are profound, unlike those produced these days, which are for the most part drivel. Icecream Empress is totally correct in there being great modern books that have to be sought out. I confess that I have not even read any of these modern literary works. So it really is unfair of me to condemn all modern works by basing my judgement on the popular ones displayed in the shop windows and all but dangling from the roof beams of bookstores.

Egad. I'm sounding contemporary. Yikes!!!

dragoon_elf
03-14-2008, 03:43 PM
yea, King is far from my favorite but I must say dude *IS* a writer.

all you have to do is notice the amount of original stories (see: TONS) he's put out.

Dave.C.Robinson
03-14-2008, 05:08 PM
Personally I often think genre writers don't always get fair treatment. Some are very good, just as some are very bad. I also believe the same of so-called literary writers.

Stephen King does deserve his awards, because he's not only a prolific writer but if you really look at his work, a very good one. I personally think his strengths are greater in some areas than others, but the man can write a compelling paragraph as well or better than anyone else alive.

I think part of the problem some "serious" writers have with King (and also with the late Robert E. Howard) is that when it comes down to it he is a storyteller first, and writer second. The other problem is that as a storyteller, he started by writing genre fiction.

Literature is a continuum, one reader's favorite book is another's wall-banger. Sturgeon's Law tells us 90% of everything is crap, but fails to mention that it's not the same 90% for everyone. Sturgeon's Law. like literature itself, is intensely personal. Some people want a book that's "well written" while others want "a good story," and in both cases the definitions vary from person to person. Yes there's overlap, but no two people will put all the same books in both categories.

I also have to disagree with the idea that bad fiction (by whatever standard) really is contributing to the decline of letters. I personally think the decline of poetry has more to do with the rise of music than anything else. Poetry has always been an audible medium as much as a literary form and I think most of today's poets have become songwriters. It's a natural progression.

As to bad or perhaps formulaic and workmanlike rather than inspired fiction, I think it's more likely to have kept literature alive than to have destroyed it. Good literature has always made up only a fraction of the market, and grows and shrinks with the overall size of the market. More "potboilers" means more fiction in total and more opportunities for literature to flourish.

It's competition from other forms and mediums that's really hurting literature, not the kinds of books people buy. Truly good books however, regardless of one's personal criteria, will always remain only a small part of what's available.

swvaughn
03-14-2008, 07:59 PM
Stephen King was awarded A National Book Award for lifetime achievement, and influence on American letters. Do you think that should happen?

Yes.

I've read a lot of Stephen King. I've enjoyed about half, disliked the other half. The key here being: I've read it.

Excellent writing, whether or not it's framed in the context of genre, is still excellent writing. King received an NBA because he can write excellently and has shown a commanding grasp of the English language and the nuance of story. Not because he's prolific, or because he makes scads of money every time he writes a grocery list.

I'm hedging here, but there are many, many people who automatically crap on King and other enormously popular genre writers, without ever having read a word of their work (or with only having "suffered through a few measly pages before becoming disgusted at the state of modern literature and politely hurling all over said work"). Not knowing whether you have or have not read King, I can't state whether you're basing your opinions on observation or assumption.

But I can guess.

IceCreamEmpress
03-14-2008, 08:44 PM
That is partially why even best sellers from past eras are profound

This is absolutely false, anis. Seriously, the most carelessly-written bestseller of today (let's say The Da Vinci Code) is much better crafted than many bestsellers of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Potboiler bestsellers of the past are, like potboiler bestsellers of today, full of gaping plot holes, hisses that were never hissed, flat characterization, unbelievable coincidences, boring and pointless chunks of description, awkward dialogue--you name it.

The reason you think there's a difference is observation bias: almost nobody reads bad books from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries anymore, because why should they?

I promise you that if I gave you an E. Phillips Oppenheim best-seller (Enoch Strone, for instance, from 1900) to read, you'd be sobbing and begging for Tom Clancy by page 50. Clancy's stuff may be hackneyed and derivative, but it's not crazy loony impossible-to-follow purple prose like Oppenheim, who hugely outsold authors of that era like Wharton or James.

If you compared Mary Roberts Rinehart to Mary Higgins Clark, the comparison would be hugely in Clark's favor; Clark has predictable plots and limited characterization, but Rinehart combines those with coincidences a toddler would dismiss as impossible and lengthy pointless soliloquies.


Yes, Dickens was a bestseller in his day. And Updike is a bestseller in our day, and so are Ian McEwan and Edwige Danticat and many other good writers. Sure, they're surrounded by lots of less serious, less literary work, but so was Dickens.

I would argue that the "hack-to-serious" ratio hasn't changed appreciably in the past 250 years, at least in the English-speaking and French traditions (the two I know best).

You might want to read New Grub Street by George Gissing; it's an 1891 book about writers and how they feel that the publishing industry has declined from its glory days of great literature to an endless factory of tripe. I think you'll be surprised!

Ken
03-14-2008, 08:56 PM
I read a lot of King in my younger years. Though I enjoyed his works a lot I don't feel he's entitled to the award. His books just aren't probing enough. Books can be highly popular and fun to read, while still being profound and aimed at expanding humankind's peripheries. King's books simply don't do this though. They're just great reads that deserve public, but not literary, recognition. As to which sort of recognition has greater value is open for debate.

We posted at the exact same time, Emp. ;)
So let me quickly address your point. I'm no authority on literary trends, so you may likely be right. That only sells me more on the old stuff because it was poorly crafted, as I'm trying to produce rubbish myself, as I've expressed. In all fairness, though, when I said best seller I was thinking more along the lines of The Brother's Karamozov or Crime and Punishment. So I guess I should have said "Great Books of the past," instead. And hey, I don't care if there were loopholes in the plots of these works and dribbly dialogue, at times, which there was. The incredible amont of insight into human nature and probing of eternal issues in these works eclipses any minor considerations like having a strong plot line or realistic dialogue, which are in themselves besides the point and utterly unimportant.
Sorry to be at odds with you, yet again. I'm a fan of yours, you know, and wouldn't mind reading some of your own stuff. Seriously. I was really impressed by that little sample I had of it awhile back, with the character trodding through a room.

Craig Gosse
03-14-2008, 09:03 PM
He stood a full double hand-span taller than any who were two spans shorter than he; with shoulders like a full-grown buffalo. (Syncerus caffer, notBubalis arnee.) His granite-textured skin was bronzed by the sun, coppered by the moon, and spattered here and there with silvering from assorted stars. Two eyes, like liquid living Black Oak, (but without a grain), peered for in resolute intransigence beneath a proud brow that jutted, like the ornate cornices of the Whendhemstropshire Assurances Office building, (the one in Upper Whendhemstropshire, not the one in Lower Whendhemstropshire, which, as all men know, is of the Modernist design, and a more hideous example of which never existed; which, as it having been designed by Messrs. Landsteiner and Macklewaithe, is no small statement), to proclaim the same intelligence revealed by his broad, full-curved dome of forehead beneath that thatch of hair, the color of lightly frost-touched wheat left overlong before scything, that the wind did so delight in playing with. A fine figure of a man, a veritable giant amongst men - yet it is not he with which our narrative deals, but the nondescript man at his side...


(*Grin*)

IceCreamEmpress
03-14-2008, 09:22 PM
In all fairness, though, when I said best seller I was thinking more along the lines of The Brother's Karamozov or Crime and Punishment. So I guess I should have said "Great Books of the past," instead.

Yes. Only the really, really good bestsellers (Madame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, A Tale of Two Cities, Huckleberry Finn, etc.) have stood the test of time.

Shakespeare was quite popular in his day, but he was considerably less popular in his day than many other playwrights long forgotten. Tolstoy was a very popular writer, but not as popular as Leskov--and who reads Leskov anymore?



Sorry to be at odds with you, yet again.

Oh, no, dear. I don't feel like we're at odds--just having a debate ;) I'm a great believer in that as a way of getting to the truth.

If you want to read some wonderfully-crafted potboilers from the old days, let me recommend H. Rider Haggard and Rafael Sabatini. King Solomon's Mines is the best Haggard, I think, and either Scaramouche or Captain Blood for Sabatini.

If you like Alexandre Dumas, you'll dig Haggard and Sabatini, who were very influenced by his work. I love reading swashbuckling adventures (though I can't write them myself!)

Craig Gosse
03-14-2008, 09:31 PM
I love reading swashbuckling adventures (though I can't write them myself!)


I probably could - except I'm still trying to figure out if I need to learn how to swash a buckle, or buckle a swash....

(*Grin*)

Seriously, though - these are good recommendations, and I heartily endorse them.

JBI
03-14-2008, 09:53 PM
No, it isn't.

You're saying that today's pot-boiler writers "contribute to the decline of literature". They do not. Every age has had pot-boiler writers.

The drop in sales of published books is not because of Stephen King, who's a much better writer than many of the pot-boiler bestsellers of earlier ages (Stephen King has real characters, unlike Marie Corelli or Harold Bell Wright; his plots make sense, unlike Sax Rohmer's or Ann Radcliff's; his books have a central moral compass, unlike E. Phillips Oppenheim's or Ouida's).

The decline of published literature, today, is largely because there are many other sources of entertainment available. When motion pictures were introduced, readership declined; when radio was introduced, readership declined; when television was introduced, the same thing happened; with the Internet, the same thing again.

Your argument is silly, especially because it has been made again and again throughout the ages. Ann Radcliff's popularity didn't keep Jane Austen from writing; E. Phillips Oppenheim's popularity didn't keep James Joyce from writing; Marie Corelli's popularity didn't keep Charles Dickens from writing. Barbara Cartland's dozens and dozens of crappy books didn't keep Pat Barker from writing the Regeneration Trilogy, either, any more than the reams of Mickey Spillane and other crap kept Ralph Ellison from writing Invisible Man.

There have always been workmanlike writers who focused on markets and sales, rather than on art, and who hugely outsold the serious work being produced in the same era. Only time can make a classic.



Wow, that's impressive!

No, I'm happy to agree to disagree. But I could not possibly disagree with you more.
It is a sophism, because I do state that, and I back it up. The decline of literature in Pope's time was rejuvenated after his death by the French revolution, and later Napoleon, kicking off the romantic era, not to mention the Age of Johnson in between which saw the re-exposure of older writers, and the rise of a formalized language by means of the Johnson's dictionary. When lyrical ballads was published at the beginning of the 19th century, England was ready to accept a new medium of literature.

As for Austen, her place is special because of her gender. The revulsion she showed to contemporary authors, as you stated, stems from the notion that she was the only major female novelist of her time, whereas the books that she was criticizing were written by men for women.

George Elliot was similar in case to Austen, except for the fact that she was going against Victorian morality rather than female silence. The Victorian era was flawed, bringing rise to a great number of authors, because of the colonial wars occurring, leaving more females than males, and also leaving new fortune to be found in places like India.

Our own time period is experiencing a downpour of mediocre literature because of the capitalist take in the publishing industry. Writers writing to make money, and publishers publishing to make money, and advertisers advertising to make money, all in a world where meaning becomes more difficult to acquire, and time becomes costly. Stephen King may write interesting novels, but he is no Pynchon, he is no DeLelio, He is no Rushdie, he is a pragmatic author who writes to make money, for a public that has money, not for literature's merit, or for advancement of the craft. The rate in which he writes shows as much, as does the fact that like it has been stated, he produces so many miss-books as he does "hit" books. If perhaps he slowed down his pen, we could acquire a little bit of insight.

The question of this thread is in essence, do you, as a writer, since we all are writers here for the most part, dislike other authors, and why do you think some authors dislike other authors. Pope, a great poet, disliked other poets, Austen a great novelist disliked other novelists, JBI, perhaps neither of the two, dislikes, as he has stated, 95% of contemporary authors. Your slanderous sophisms are used by your crummy examples to fuel an inward desire for you to express your knowledge of literature. You are in fact agreeing with me, by giving me the necessary evidence to support my contempt of contemporary authors. Thank you for agreeing with me, I look forward to your next reply, so I can quote you again, and show you how illogical your arguments are.

Ken
03-14-2008, 10:03 PM
Having been recommended by 2 AW-ers I will have to check these books out when I get up to the main library, by me, which entails a 1/2 hour ride on a bus that's always packed. Maybe I'll foot it one way, instead, giving me time to reflect upon all that's been said, here. (ps Leskov actually sounds interesting. One Russian book I must read one day is "What is To Be Done," by C__ something. Tried many times to read the work but fell asleep in the effort each time. What's good for a person often tastes bland, similar to vanilla yougart.)

wow did I spell yougart wrong!!!

Craig Gosse
03-14-2008, 10:07 PM
...contempt of contemporary authors.

That is, indeed, what it seems to be. Unfortunately, the tone of your posts leaves me to believe that it is a rationalized position, rather than a rational one - that's how you feel about it, and that being the case, search for the 'proof' to verify said opinion.

As a matter of opinion - as it is - it stands neither stronger nor weaker than IceCreamEmpress'. Both of you provide intellectual commentary to back up your opinions, which - in my opinion - does give them more weight than many others I have seen; yet I still maintain that it is intellectual justification for a position already arrived at through emotional means.

...but, of course, that's just *my* opinion.

C. Gosse

Ken
03-14-2008, 10:21 PM
Your slanderous sophisms are used by your crummy examples to fuel an inward desire for you to express your knowledge of literature. You are in fact agreeing with me, by giving me the necessary evidence to support my contempt of contemporary authors. Thank you for agreeing with me, I look forward to your next reply, so I can quote you again, and show you how illogical your arguments are.

I think it's unfair of you to say this. IcecreamEmpress really knows her stuff and is not one to say something for the mere purpose of showing off, as seen by her willingness to examine her own arguments and really pay attention to what others say. Reread her comments and you'll see this. Sure she has her own way of looking at things, but so do you, and I. Who's to say who is ultimately right? So though we should debate our differences, on occasion, so that we may enhance our knowledge and perspectives, we certainly shouldn't deride one another's positions.

Craig Gosse
03-14-2008, 10:32 PM
As I like to say, each and every one of us is 'locked in their own skull'. To be able to order little spots of black upon a porous white surface in such a way as to convey emotion or imagery to another person, however tenuously, is 'good' writing. While I agree that great writing is something on a whole other plane, nevertheless: "The remarkable thing about a dancing bear is not how well it dances; it is the fact that it dances at all."

DonnaDuck
03-14-2008, 11:39 PM
To those snubbing contemporary writers, I think it's safe to say that you're on this board because you are a writer. You are a writer in a contemporary world. You are a writer in the 21st century. You are the very thing that you hate and then turn around and say that you don't like 95% of the contemporary writers because they're contributing to the devolution of literature. I'm also left to assume that you're placing yourself as a writer among your contemporaries into that 5% margin who are better than the self-proclaimed drivel their shatting on which is nothing but pompous and pretentious. It would be wise not to shit on 95% of the employees you work with because, well, employees talk, as do the management. Lest you forget that that percentage can also be applied to the very people at this board whom, in your eyes, are contributing to the downfall of literature because they aren't living up to your pedantic expectations of what lit-ra-ture (unfortunately I can't claim this wonderful phonetic jab) is. On top of that, many of us are those bastard children called genre writers as well.

It would be wise to remember that by calling 95% of what's written today piss, you're also calling 95% of what's written by people on this board piss as well. Besides, if you're so disillusioned by contemporary writers, what are you doing on a writing board littered with contemporary writers that, in your eyes, couldn't write themselves out of a paper bag?

IceCreamEmpress
03-15-2008, 12:19 AM
It is a sophism, because I do state that, and I back it up. The decline of literature in Pope's time was rejuvenated after his death by the French revolution, and later Napoleon, kicking off the romantic era, not to mention the Age of Johnson in between which saw the re-exposure of older writers

Your lack of information about literary history is made amply evident by this passage right here.

The Age of Johnson did not happen "in between" the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars; Johnson died in 1784, and the "Age of Johnson" is generally used to describe the mid- and late-18th century (1730-1800 or 1740-1810 are the two most common chronological formulations).

Although Alexander Pope first published the Dunciad anonymously and in a limited edition in 1728, the work we know best today was the first published under his name, in 1735; the New Dunciad, which was four books long, was published in 1743. That's right, during the Age of Johnson.

So not only must I reiterate that we do not agree, I'm going to state quite plainly that you do not have enough information to argue these points coherently. I recommend the critical writings of Michael McKeon (particularly The Origins of the English Novel and the collection he edited, Theory of the Novel: An Historical Approach) if you would like to know more about this topic.

Dave.C.Robinson
03-15-2008, 12:35 AM
To those snubbing contemporary writers, I think it's safe to say that you're on this board because you are a writer. You are a writer in a contemporary world. You are a writer in the 21st century. You are the very thing that you hate and then turn around and say that you don't like 95% of the contemporary writers because they're contributing to the devolution of literature yet, I'm assuming, you are also a writer. I'm also left to assume that you're placing yourself as a writer among your contemporaries into that 5% margin who are better than the self-proclaimed drivel their shatting on is nothing but pompous and pretentious. It would be wise not to shit on 95% of the employees you work with because, well, employees talk, as do the management. Lest you forget that that percentage can also be applied to the very people at this board whom, in your eyes, are contributing to the downfall of literature because they aren't living up to your pedantic expectations of what lit-ra-ture (unfortunately I can't claim this wonderful phonetic jab) is. On top of that, many of us are those bastard children called genre writers as well.

It would be wise to remember that by calling 95% of what's written today piss, you're also calling 95% of what's written by people on this board piss as well. Besides, if you're so disillusioned by contemporary writers, what are you doing on a writing board littered with contemporary writers that, in your eyes, couldn't write themselves out of a paper bag?

I'm the one who brought up Sturgeon's Law, but I didn't do it as a snub against contemporary writers. It was more an observation that the ratio of "crap" to good stuff hasn't changed over the last several centuries. I also mentioned that what's "crap" to me, isn't going to be "crap" to others.

Some contemporary writers are superb, some are g_dawful. That applies to both published and unpublished.

The vast majority of the 90% of "crap" never makes it past the slush pile, and one of the most important qualities of a good writer is to take their initial work and polish it so it gets out of that category. It's no different than saying you have to write a million words of garbage before you get good.

IceCreamEmpress
03-15-2008, 12:45 AM
I'm the one who brought up Sturgeon's Law, but I didn't do it as a snub against contemporary writers. It was more an observation that the ratio of "crap" to good stuff hasn't changed over the last several centuries.

Yes. And seriously, people who disbelieve this haven't read the crap from the past, or looked at actual sales figures from the past.


I also mentioned that what's "crap" to me, isn't going to be "crap" to others.

This is another really important point.

Here's a review:

Sentimental rubbish...Show me one page that contains an idea!

Nicholas Sparks's latest? Nope, Anna Karenina.

Craig Gosse
03-15-2008, 02:25 AM
I also mentioned that what's "crap" to me, isn't going to be "crap" to others.

Excuse me - I have to go take a Harold Robbins....

Mr Flibble
03-15-2008, 02:36 AM
Are you kidding? My mum's secret Harold Robbins stash got me through my teenage years!

edit: ok not for the writing, for the ahem 'hormonal' bits

JBI
03-15-2008, 10:32 AM
Your lack of information about literary history is made amply evident by this passage right here.

The Age of Johnson did not happen "in between" the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars; Johnson died in 1784, and the "Age of Johnson" is generally used to describe the mid- and late-18th century (1730-1800 or 1740-1810 are the two most common chronological formulations).

Although Alexander Pope first published the Dunciad anonymously and in a limited edition in 1728, the work we know best today was the first published under his name, in 1735; the New Dunciad, which was four books long, was published in 1743. That's right, during the Age of Johnson.

So not only must I reiterate that we do not agree, I'm going to state quite plainly that you do not have enough information to argue these points coherently. I recommend the critical writings of Michael McKeon (particularly The Origins of the English Novel and the collection he edited, Theory of the Novel: An Historical Approach) if you would like to know more about this topic.
Sorry, this was my fault, it was an awkward ordering of clauses, not a literary mistake, I meant in between to refer to in between Pope and the French revolution, not in between the French Revolution and Napoleon, or Napoleon and the Romantic era. Sorry for the confusion.

~JBI

JBI
03-15-2008, 10:51 AM
Either way, even if you don't buy into the historicist approach, we can agree that the vast majority (I tried to ballpark it at 95%, though it is probably 99.9% now) of literature is not enduring, and for the most part, is of lesser quality in the long run. The fact that we disagree on, I believe, after carefully re-reading your posts, is whether or not a) this is a new phenomenon separate from the past because of our society, and b) whether these inferior (in my opinion) authors should be disliked or not.

As an avid bibliophile, I personally dislike having to dig through bottomless piles of rubbish to find one gem. In my opinion, reading should not be mining, it should be expansionary. As a student, just finished from the Canadian high-school system, I will say that for the most part, my education in literature in school was barely passable. I think it ironic that Shakespeare 440 odd years ago probably received a stronger foundation in literary studies than I did in school. (we read 4 novels, about 25 poems, about 20 essays, and about 10 short stories in 4 years, in one language only, and most of which from 1920-today in publication). This is coming from Canada, an extremely developed country which prides its self on its education system.

You argue that people are seeking other mediums of entertainment, I argue that there were as many forms of entertainment available in Pope's time, in Austen's Time, and in T.S. Eliot's time (I use him deliberately because of his dislike for the society he lived in). The difference is, that these sources for entertainment have usurped the vast majority of time that normally would have been devoted to reading. To say that this is fair, and that it isn't because of literature, is to say that literature deserves to be cut-off, and that these forms of entertainment are superior.

As a bibliophile, poet, writer, and amateur critic, I would argue that it isn't because of this, but rather because of the rise in yuppy culture, and our ultra-capitalist life styles. There are stronger literary traditions occurring in lesser developed countries than America and Canada. The booms in literature usually surround a certain event, which brings around social change, such as, as stated before,The Renaissance, The French Revolution, the wars surrounding the Victorian Era, World War 1, to a lesser extent than its predecessor, World War 2, and other events. Therefore it is safe to say that with the exception of a few authors, the rest of the writers are not going to make a mark, and are probably not going to be read in the future. I am just waiting for the next event to try and hitch onto the wagon.

~JBI

Shweta
03-15-2008, 11:15 AM
Guys, please back up and cool down a little? It's venturing rather close to not respecting fellow writers in here. But a number of people are making interesting points -- so let's keep it that way, interesting and useful :)

icerose
03-15-2008, 06:40 PM
JBI, if you are referring to whichever writer came up with the text message novels. The "R u cmng?" novels then I will absolutely agree with the decline theory.

However, if you are claiming that the likes of Stephan King and J. K. Rowlings and Mary Higgins Clark are contributing to the decline of readership, you are sorely misinformed. If you want profound, go for the literary novels, write literary novels. If you don't like a good story, fine, don't like it. I personally would go for a good story that makes sense over a profound, deep, difficult, literary piece any day. But I want to be entertained when I read, and I want to entertain people with my writing. I'm sure there were plenty of writers in the caveman time who did the same. It doesn't mean we're trying to end or taint the literature lists. We just want to enjoy it.

I also strongly disagree that past generations had as much other entertainment as we do today. There were no devices in the home that were entertaining. The rich may have had a small sampling of music. If they wanted music they either had to be rich enough to hire a musician or play it themselves for the most part. They didn't have television or radio in their home. Occasionally there were balls and such, parties that could be construed as entertainment, but those were rare. They didn't have video games, they had some board games, true, but still not anything like we have today. I do agree that reading has been somewhat lost in the education, the joy of reading is not being conveyed as it should be. I am taking a personal aim with my own family to instill the love of reading. I read to my children everyday and they love it, more than t.v. more than anything, they love to hear me read to them. My oldest daughter is the top reader in her class.

Part of the decline in reading is due to sheer lack of parenting, but that's a whole different issue.

ORION
03-15-2008, 06:45 PM
I would just like to add one thing...
And it had probably been said previously but bears repeating.

I think it's easier to make generalizations than it is reasoned arguments but how about this. If reading Harold Robins or Barbara Cartland gives a person pleasure. What's wrong with that?
I wrote my book to create a good story. The farthest thing from my mind was considering whether it would be around for 100 years. I am offended if you consider it "crap."
You can say it bored you.
That you couldn't finish it.
That you found it sentimental and maudlin.
You can say you were disappointed in the writing.
But crap?
Writing a novel requires so much time, energy, and creative effort-- to diminish that seems unfair.
My friend's mother cleans houses for a living. She has an 8th grade education. Would you deprive her of her harlequin romances and force her to read Proust?
How many of you read James Joyce for pleasure? I certainly don't.

kikazaru
03-15-2008, 07:37 PM
Well said Orion, in fact I would rather dig my corneas out with a grapefruit spoon than ever read another James Joyce.

One man's ceiling is another man's floor, what is crap to some is an entertaining read to others. I read to be entertained - that's it, escapism pure and simple - no life altering thoughts, no underlying deep messages. I really don't want to work too hard when I'm escaping. Give me a great story told in an entertaining manner not only am I in heaven, but I'm a loyal reader who will buy your next book.

Having your work read and enjoyed - isn't that what it's all about for any author?

JBI
03-15-2008, 11:06 PM
JBI, if you are referring to whichever writer came up with the text message novels. The "R u cmng?" novels then I will absolutely agree with the decline theory.

However, if you are claiming that the likes of Stephan King and J. K. Rowlings and Mary Higgins Clark are contributing to the decline of readership, you are sorely misinformed. If you want profound, go for the literary novels, write literary novels. If you don't like a good story, fine, don't like it. I personally would go for a good story that makes sense over a profound, deep, difficult, literary piece any day. But I want to be entertained when I read, and I want to entertain people with my writing. I'm sure there were plenty of writers in the caveman time who did the same. It doesn't mean we're trying to end or taint the literature lists. We just want to enjoy it.

I also strongly disagree that past generations had as much other entertainment as we do today. There were no devices in the home that were entertaining. The rich may have had a small sampling of music. If they wanted music they either had to be rich enough to hire a musician or play it themselves for the most part. They didn't have television or radio in their home. Occasionally there were balls and such, parties that could be construed as entertainment, but those were rare. They didn't have video games, they had some board games, true, but still not anything like we have today. I do agree that reading has been somewhat lost in the education, the joy of reading is not being conveyed as it should be. I am taking a personal aim with my own family to instill the love of reading. I read to my children everyday and they love it, more than t.v. more than anything, they love to hear me read to them. My oldest daughter is the top reader in her class.

Part of the decline in reading is due to sheer lack of parenting, but that's a whole different issue.
Drinking for one was a much more practiced activity historically, where Germany before world war 2 had something like a pub for every 30 people (I can't remember the exact statistic, but it was close to this). If you read novels from that time period, the time that people spend on things like hunting, sewing, dancing, getting dressed, drinking, fighting in wars, practicing/playing the piano, doing work required to survive (I think Dickens on this one), being sick, writing letters, entertaining society, horse-riding, lechering, etc. you realize that we have far more available time than they did. In Canada, the full work week is 40 hours, with the average person supposed to get 8 hours of sleep, leaving 86 disposable hours for personal use, whereas in the past, not only were the work weeks longer, the lower classes also didn't have the benefit of literacy.

In a world where countries pride themselves on literacy rates, it's rather ironic that reading is down.

You argue that it is better to have a good story than it is for a challenging intellectual read, I disagree. Nietzsche argues in the birth of tragedy, that the ancient Greeks invented tragedy because of their pessimism. Perhaps the most influential, and enduring pieces of literature (with the exception, as always, of Shakespeare) could come out of such a negative dislike of the world, shows how art is not meant to be a happy escape from bitter reality, but rather a more clear, expansionary portrayal of humanity, a more perfected art, and a "celebration of life". In King you don't get this. In Rowling you don't get this. In Grisham, Koontz, Brown, etc. You don't get this. Why read them?

The answer of course is that you shouldn't read them. It is, in these cases, far better to rent the movie. Or watch the t.v. episodes. If people want an over-dramatized, unrealistic, formulaic, mediocre, etc. etc. means of entertainment, it is far better to watch the movie, since 2 hours is a lot faster than 500 pages for most people.

Despite this however, there are those books that don't profit from adaptation. Austen is a great example, because of the wide range of adaptations of her work. Many adaptations are excellent, but if you ask any Austen fan, s/he will tell you that they are far inferior to the novel. The novels capture the romance, the time period, some of the wit, but none of the irony, and none of the social context/criticism.

If you are not challenged by what you are reading, then there really is no point reading it, since it offers nothing new. It's like going away on vacation and returning without the memories; it is pointless.

Back on the question, should we dislike these authors, yes we should, because they, and the publishers, and the teachers in high-schools (most people do not get degrees in English) are telling the public that this is reading. This is not reading, this is not literature, and this is not beneficial to society, no matter how many novels you read, if they are of this caliber. I say, as a reader of good books, that I dislike these authors, simply because they are pragmatic authors trying to sell pages without any regard for what they produce.

Toothpaste
03-15-2008, 11:17 PM
Woah. So the only reason to read is to challenge yourself? Wow. Better escapes? Entertainment is reserved for television and movies only? I think Dickens would maybe have taken issue with that.

Honestly I find that slightly laughable. If one person prefers to escape in a book than in television by reading Grisham say, does that still make television a better escape? Are you actually going to sit this person down and explain to them, "You may think you are escaping into a book, but if you aren't going to be challenged by it, I would recommend putting this book down that you are enjoying and watch tv instead. It's way better."

Thank you, but I'd rather make my own decisions.

Toothpaste
03-15-2008, 11:26 PM
And one more point. I get you are a fan of the classics. Obviously.

You do know that Shakespeare wasn't writing to challenge right? It's challenging to us because it is written at a different time and in almost a different language, but at the time he was writing he was not only writing for Kings and Queens but . . . for lowly masses as well. That's why you have such bawdy humour. That's why you have characters that really shouldn't be in the show and add nothing to the plot. These characters were played by actors that the people loved, comedians who had a schtick, and so Shakespeare would write them roles to . . . omg . . . please the common man. You realise he wrote about sex and violence right? Made sure there was an action sequence or two in every show right?

You also get that Dickens wrote serialised novels of course? That he published a chapter at at time in the paper, and therefore was intent on using cliffhangers to get people reading the next installment. A technique used by that loathed of loathed authors . . .yet also one of the most popular . . .Dan Brown.

I think you may be idealising the past a teeny tiny bit. Not saying that good stuff didn't come out of it, just saying . . . well, just saying.

Birol
03-15-2008, 11:43 PM
Why not just watch movies, or better yet, why not just not read. There are better escapes, perhaps if the time spent escaping was used to better affect, you wouldn't need to escape, but then again, some people need their opium.

JBI, your condescension of your fellow man and your fellow writers is showing through. Your true ignorance of the past is, as well. Since the days of traveling bards and Greek plays, storytelling has existed for two purposes: 1) to dispense information and new ideas and 2) to entertain. One is not more important than the other.

Aristotle -- I'm certain such a well-read young man as yourself has studied at least a little Plato and Aristotle, correct? -- and I don't mean just read, I do mean studied -- argued that such entertainments were needed to channel public emotion and give people a chance to purge them from their system. Storytelling -- or poetry in Greek times -- was a chance to teach people how to control their emotions and provide catharsis. This was not done just through "classics" as we know them today, but through "escapist" literature. Even the ancient Greeks had their versions of escapism literature.

Now, Shweta has asked everyone, including you, to tone the disrespectful commentary down. You seem to be refusing. Now, since she is not online, I am telling you, remain respectful of your fellow writers or else I will close this thread for a temporary cooling off period.

icerose
03-16-2008, 12:20 AM
JBI I really hope you NEVER read anything of mine. I love to read. I love the written form. That's okay if you don't like what I read, but don't tell me I shouldn't read.

I am tempering my words very very carefully because of the respect rule.

I have a right to read what I like, whatever it may be, even if it's only as sophisticated as the little fun facts on the cereal box. I'm also allowed to write whatever I please, even if it's gutter trash that's not even good enough for someone to wipe their backside with.

You are also allowed the same privileges. I hope you realize that.

kikazaru
03-16-2008, 12:50 AM
Why not just watch movies, or better yet, why not just not read. There are better escapes, perhaps if the time spent escaping was used to better affect, you wouldn't need to escape, but then again, some people need their opium.

Lol! But you see I "like" to read. I love the written word, I love a good story - it can take me places in my mind that a movie can never do. What you are telling me is that my (and others like me) experience is inferior to some lofty standard that YOU have set. That what I like to do with my time has no worth at all unless I'm delving into something that can "improve" my life experience - according to YOUR standards. I'm not sure what the colour the sky is in your world, but here on this planet not everyone likes the same thing and not everyone wants the same thing. What you are advocating for others are YOUR parameters to live YOUR life. If you want to read only "improving" works - or to dine on nothing but sprouts and seeds and deny yourself chocolate and wine, I applaud your efforts. You may not live any longer but I'm sure it will seem like it.

Give me chocolate, give me wine and a terrific read (maybe Gabaldon, perhaps some Robb or maybe even some Krentz) - small plebian pleasures to be sure, but they are all MINE and despite your opinion, I will enjoy every moment.

icerose
03-16-2008, 12:53 AM
You argue that it is better to have a good story than it is for a challenging intellectual read, I disagree.

I just wanted to clarify that I did not say this. Below is what I said.


If you want profound, go for the literary novels, write literary novels. If you don't like a good story, fine, don't like it. I personally would go for a good story that makes sense over a profound, deep, difficult, literary piece any day. But I want to be entertained when I read, and I want to entertain people with my writing.

I did not say that it's better or that my way is the way to go. I was merely stating my personal preferences. Please read my posts closer. I would never presume to tell people what to read or what is best. It comes down to personal tastes and to try and tell a free thinking adult what they should and should not do is IMO insulting.

Have a nice day.

swvaughn
03-16-2008, 01:09 AM
Perhaps the most influential, and enduring pieces of literature (with the exception, as always, of Shakespeare) could come out of such a negative dislike of the world, shows how art is not meant to be a happy escape from bitter reality, but rather a more clear, expansionary portrayal of humanity, a more perfected art, and a "celebration of life". In King you don't get this.

I admit that I'm not nearly as well read or educated as you. I've not studied the classics (though I've read many of them) and I've not studied the evolution of literature and/or philosophy. In fact, you may as well lump me in with that 99.9% of writers putting out crap (though I would beg to differ on the notion that I do not put my heart and soul, and an enormous amount of work, introspection, care of craft, and love of the written word into my own admittedly genre-driven work).

However, I believe King - and even Rowling, Koontz, and Grisham - actually do provide clear, expansionary portayals of humanity and celebrations of life. As I stated previously, it's framed in the auspices of genre, but much of it still contains well-crafted, and sometimes even illuminating, character portrayals that comment on humanity as a whole.

The best example I can think of right off is King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon - which is a story of survival, the tenacity of the human spirit, and triumph over fear, just as much as it's a scary campire story about a little girl lost in the woods and being chased by a creature.

Also, as I stated before, you might try actually reading some of this trash before you condemn it.

icerose
03-16-2008, 01:40 AM
Add to the list The Green Mile. That one I think had some pretty deep characters and helped me at least rethink deathrow and that not everyone is who they appear to be on both walks of life.

RJLeahy
03-16-2008, 01:57 AM
I'll add The Body, the short story that was the basis for the movie, Stand By Me.

Dave.C.Robinson
03-16-2008, 02:45 AM
Here goes: Dave's reasons for reading

As far as I'm concerned there are precisely two valid reasons for reading something: either you have to read it, or you want to read it. Both are sufficient.

Some people read for escape, and look for a "good story" others read because they want an intellectual or even emotional challenge and read for "literary merit." If everyone was the same it might make some sense to say one reason was better than another. Unfortunately, people are not all the same. Some people like burgers more than steak; others are vegetarian. Some of us may want pulp adventure part of the time, literature another part of the time, and perhaps non-fiction (history, self-help, cosmology, religion) another.

It's all fine.

Everyone should read the writers they like for their own reasons. I don't like some writers, I do like others. I read the ones I like and don't worry about people who like the ones I don't (whether I think the book in question lacks literary merit or is just about something I don't care for is irrelevant).

Read for yourself, not for others.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 02:57 AM
I just wanted to clarify that I did not say this.

One more plea. Please read what people say clearly and try to represent them accurately. It hurts the discussion if one does not, and it also hurts your position.

icerose should not have had to make this clarification.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 03:06 AM
Back to the topic :)
I have a personal story about reading in schools. When I moved to Scotland for 11th-grade-equivalent, I got a reading list for English in advance. Bought the books. Decided to read JG Ballard's Empire of the Sun over the summer, because hey, a book. And I loved it.

Then we studied it in class and by the end of several weeks of deep analysis, I was so bored I haven't read any more Ballard since. Now in retrospect, my English teacher was great, and her insights interesting, her arguments compelling. She didn't talk down to us, and most of the class was caught up with the week's reading, so conversations were good. That's probably the best English class experience possible. And yet. It was like when you've edited your story for the fifteenth time and just want it to go away now.

So I personally am very glad I discovered much earlier that reading is fun. Speaking of which, I love what Austen has to say about that.


Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding -- joining with
their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their
leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens -- there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am no novel-reader -- I seldom look into novels -- Do not imagine that I often read novels -- It is really very well for a novel." Such is the common cant. "And what are you reading, Miss -- ?" "Oh! It is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

- From Northanger Abbey

JBI
03-16-2008, 03:21 AM
I admit that I'm not nearly as well read or educated as you. I've not studied the classics (though I've read many of them) and I've not studied the evolution of literature and/or philosophy. In fact, you may as well lump me in with that 99.9% of writers putting out crap (though I would beg to differ on the notion that I do not put my heart and soul, and an enormous amount of work, introspection, care of craft, and love of the written word into my own admittedly genre-driven work).

However, I believe King - and even Rowling, Koontz, and Grisham - actually do provide clear, expansionary portayals of humanity and celebrations of life. As I stated previously, it's framed in the auspices of genre, but much of it still contains well-crafted, and sometimes even illuminating, character portrayals that comment on humanity as a whole.

The best example I can think of right off is King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon - which is a story of survival, the tenacity of the human spirit, and triumph over fear, just as much as it's a scary campire story about a little girl lost in the woods and being chased by a creature.

Also, as I stated before, you might try actually reading some of this trash before you condemn it.
I gave each of the authors you named 3 books. I can't do more than that; no time. I have read books by them, and have seen that though they have semi-insightful characters, they are saying what has been said, or are not saying enough. The truth of the matter is, that even if you read all day, you still cannot read everything. Therefore to read a mediocre book is to not read a good book. That is why I dislike these authors. That is why I think they contribute to the decline of literature.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 03:29 AM
The truth of the matter is, that even if you read all day, you still cannot read everything. Therefore to read a mediocre book is to not read a good book.

That's entirely reasonable, IMO.
So you pick and choose what you want to read -- and other people will do the same.


That is why I dislike these authors.

This is getting personal. They might be great people. Disliking their writing is all cool, but personal sniping is unprofessional.


That is why I think they contribute to the decline of literature.

And this is a huge leap.

It's like saying: "I dislike ice cream. Therefore I think it contributes to the decline of food."

Consider this: The next Great Writer might well be a 10-year-old who has been reading Harry Potter, and hey, discovers that she loves reading! So she goes out and reads a bunch of other stuff, eventually developing good critical thinking. And it goes from there.

It's much more likely than the next Great Writer being a 10-year-old reading James Joyce for fun :rolleyes:

Craig Gosse
03-16-2008, 03:32 AM
I'll add The Body, the short story that was the basis for the movie, Stand By Me.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption....

JBI
03-16-2008, 03:38 AM
And one more point. I get you are a fan of the classics. Obviously.

You do know that Shakespeare wasn't writing to challenge right? It's challenging to us because it is written at a different time and in almost a different language, but at the time he was writing he was not only writing for Kings and Queens but . . . for lowly masses as well. That's why you have such bawdy humour. That's why you have characters that really shouldn't be in the show and add nothing to the plot. These characters were played by actors that the people loved, comedians who had a schtick, and so Shakespeare would write them roles to . . . omg . . . please the common man. You realise he wrote about sex and violence right? Made sure there was an action sequence or two in every show right?

You also get that Dickens wrote serialised novels of course? That he published a chapter at at time in the paper, and therefore was intent on using cliffhangers to get people reading the next installment. A technique used by that loathed of loathed authors . . .yet also one of the most popular . . .Dan Brown.

I think you may be idealising the past a teeny tiny bit. Not saying that good stuff didn't come out of it, just saying . . . well, just saying.

Not all Shakespeare's plays are considered masterpieces. self proclaimed Bardolator and leading critic Harold Bloom only marks 24 of them as such. Most critics try to justify the composition of such "inferior" plays by the genius as him trying to appeal to the crowds. King Lear, regarded as perhaps his best or second best play (Hamlet is its only rival in most critical opinion) was poorly received for generations. People disliked the ending, and even preformed modified versions. It wasn't really until World War 2 that people opened up to it, because of its strong nihilistic themes. IT is his most experimental plays, in both theme and character that are more commonly read today. Just think of it, if people compare plays they read in school by him, generally everyone has read a similar selection.

I didn't say the crowds will always be wrong, that would be a foolish assertion, but I didn't say they are always right. Comparing Dan Brown's cliff hangers to Dickens's cliff hangers weren't only used as cliff hangers. He wrote in serialized form, which required such in order to get the next issue sold. Brown on the other hand writes full novels, and uses cliff-hangers as a means of necessity (his books are all quite similar apparently, which leads one to believe he only has one technique). Besides which, cliff hangers aren't the worst of his problem.

To say that we only find Shakespeare difficult because of the language is just silly. His language was new in his own time too. I am sure that his audience found many aspects of the language, including the huge amount of newly coined words, and obscure references to be just as challenging, if not more so, given the lack of education for the majority of his audience.

To say difficulty in reading doesn't necessarily correspond to what I am saying. Though many difficult authors are good (difficult here used in reference to language), the difficulty in reading many works can come as a strong emotional surge/ painful truth, as felt in works by Hemingway.

Craig Gosse
03-16-2008, 03:43 AM
I gave each of the authors you named 3 books. I can't do more than that; no time. I have read books by them, and have seen that though they have semi-insightful characters, they are saying what has been said, or are not saying enough. The truth of the matter is, that even if you read all day, you still cannot read everything. Therefore to read a mediocre book is to not read a good book. That is why I dislike these authors. That is why I think they contribute to the decline of literature.

Ah...!

Actually, I find this quite enlightening. You have 'extremely' limited time to read, and so therefore you are likewise 'extremely' choosy about what you read. Though I still have a quibble or two about the 'cause-and-effect' which leads to your conclusion, I nevertheless better understand the Weltanschauung that produces it.

As for myself: The mere fact that you are absolutely correct about not being to read everything in no way influences my personal attempt to do so. I have easily read in excess of 4000 novels (or equivalent word-count worth of short stories) to date; by dint of effort, I see no reason I can't do the same between now... and when I retire, and buckle down to some serious reading! (*Grin*)

Cath
03-16-2008, 03:45 AM
The truth of the matter is, that even if you read all day, you still cannot read everything. Therefore to read a mediocre book is to not read a good book. That is why I dislike these authors. That is why I think they contribute to the decline of literature.
Please, don't cast off the 'mediocre'. What to you is mediocre might be a revelation or an enlightenment to someone else. It might cause them to think in a different way, or to experience something they can not experience in any other way. Or it might simply provide them with relief from an otherwise humdrum day.

Literature is only a result of the human desire to tell stories. To me, it is the stories that matter - although the way they are constructed and conveyed can influence my enjoyment, it rarely changes what I take away from the story. And sometimes it isn't the best told stories that stay with me the longest.

Cranky
03-16-2008, 03:48 AM
You are missing the point, I think.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 03:50 AM
As for not wanting to offend, or for impeaching on other peoples rights, I say this: if you wish to express your right to read bad novels, I wish to express my right to mock you for your decision (within board rule limits of course).

I.E. Not. You have no right to mock anybody here by board rules. Please get that into your head.

Marian Perera
03-16-2008, 03:54 AM
I don't understand why you would want to mock anyone.

My personal take on it is that everyone has the right to read what they like, and the right not to be criticized for it. Now perhaps you feel that people reading the Harry Potter books or Dan Brown novels will lead to the decline of literature. Fine; you're entitled to your opinion. But do you want other people to share that opinion, or at least to consider it a reasonable opinion to hold? If so, how will mocking them achieve this?

I mean, I can't see anyone saying, "JBI mocked my taste in books! I'd better start reading James Joyce."

Craig Gosse
03-16-2008, 03:57 AM
...if you wish to express your right to read bad novels, I wish to express my right to mock you for your decision (within board rule limits of course).

All you've managed to do is construct a wonderfully circular argument.

You express your definition of 'bad'; extend this from opinion to 'inarguable' fact; use this 'fact' as the central point for your theory on the decline of literature; then use this theory to support your definition of 'bad'.

Tsk, tsk, JBI...

Shweta
03-16-2008, 04:01 AM
Sooooo (attempt to derail the derail follows) what do you guys think, in general, about writers not liking other writers? :)

I think it's inevitable, myself, that writing makes us more picky (but also more appreciative of some things) -- but I also think that anything beyond a critique-with-reasons of a specific work or writer is unprofessional.

How 'bout you guys? :)

Cranky
03-16-2008, 04:04 AM
Sooooo (attempt to derail the derail follows) what do you guys think, in general, about writers not liking other writers? :)

I think it's inevitable, myself, that writing makes us more picky (but also more appreciative of some things) -- but I also think that anything beyond a critique-with-reasons of a specific work or writer is unprofessional.

How 'bout you guys? :)

I agree, pretty much. I don't know about the inevitable part of it, however.

I've never taken that approach to any writer. It's on a book-by-book basis. For example: I loved Wicked...but I really, really, disliked Son of a Witch. I've still read other books by McGuire (I hope I spelled that correctly, lol), and will continue to do so if they interest me.

Craig Gosse
03-16-2008, 04:06 AM
How 'bout you guys? :)

If it weren't for other writers, I wouldn't be a writer myself; nor would I have an audience already indoctrinated into the skill of reading.

Reading, after all, is not a passive exercise, as with other media - it is an active one, requiring 'user participation'; and, sister, it ain't easy! (*Grin*)

This being the case, what could I possible say? I love writers!

(In, you know, the platonic sense...)

Marian Perera
03-16-2008, 04:16 AM
Why is it that as soon as literary merit is concerned, everyone jumps to Joyce.

I'd have mentioned Jean Rhys, Margaret Atwood or William Golding. But then it occurred to me that you might consider them hacks, so it was best to stick with Joyce.

Thank you for attempting to answer my question, and since the moderator has asked that we not derail this any further, I'll stop here.

Birol
03-16-2008, 04:18 AM
This thread is temporarily closed for housekeeping. It will reopen momentarily.

Birol
03-16-2008, 05:22 AM
I am now reopening this thread. Only a couple of posts of been deleted, all by a single individual.

JBI, it is quite possible to disagree with someone without insulting them. See the exchanges between anis and IceCreamEmpress if you need a real world example. Shweta has asked you and I have told you to follow the rule of respect. You have had multiple warnings in thread and out. You have, by your own admission, made the choice not to do so.

If you fail one more time to address your fellow board members with the level of courtesy that you should use when responding to the stranger on the street, you will receive a time-out. There will be no further warnings, no discussions, and no debates on the matter. If you, JBI, behave disrespectful, you will receive a time-out. Period.

icerose
03-16-2008, 05:29 AM
I adore writers, they helped feed my imagination at a young age and provided a nice escape from life's daily rigors. Without books I don't think I would have made it through my pre-teen and teen years without having some kind of a breakdown. When your world and safety nets crumble around you, escapism can really save the day!

There are books I don't care for, I don't care for certain styles that they are written in and as such there are some authors I just don't read from because in general I don't enjoy their writing style, still though, I don't think I could ever bring myself to hate them unless they showed outright contempt or total arrogance toward other writers.

I'm a pretty easy going reader, there are things that pop out at me more than they used to, but I still find much to learn in just about every book I read, and if I don't learn something, I usually find something to enjoy.

Thank goodness for writers and for so many writers who write so many different ways. I would go crazy if every single book was written the same way on a set group of subjects.

JBI
03-16-2008, 05:37 AM
I adore writers, they helped feed my imagination at a young age and provided a nice escape from life's daily rigors. Without books I don't think I would have made it through my pre-teen and teen years without having some kind of a breakdown. When your world and safety nets crumble around you, escapism can really save the day!

There are books I don't care for, I don't care for certain styles that they are written in and as such there are some authors I just don't read from because in general I don't enjoy their writing style, still though, I don't think I could ever bring myself to hate them unless they showed outright contempt or total arogance toward other writers.

I'm a pretty easy going reader, there are things that pop out at me more than they used to, but I still find much to learn in just about every book I read, and if I don't learn something, I usually find something to enjoy.

Thank goodness for writers and for so many writers who write so many different ways. I would go crazy if every single book was written the same way on a set group of subjects.

Your last paragraph creates a circular argument, since most books deal with the same themes, and all authors are imitating/contradicting something else. The question of whether or not to read books is highly rooted in originality. Your question doesn't take into the account the inauthenticity of many writers. Is it fair to give credit to a plagiarist? What about read books that imitate to the point of having similar sentences? *Aragon* cough.

KTC
03-16-2008, 05:39 AM
I like all kinds of writers. I have James Joyce on the shelf beside Anne Rice. I have Shakespeare between Lovecraft and Ray Wong. I can't devalue a generation of writers because I find one who doesn't twist me into knots of envy. If I find a bad writer, I choose to ignore that particular writer. I wouldn't dream of discounting all of his contemporaries. I go case by case. I enjoy finding writers I don't like, if truth be told. One I can think of who really riles me is James Frey. I think he is a terrible writer. I don't like him. I don't think he can write one sentence worthy of my attention. I think writers probably have a harder time finding stuff they like than non-writers...but it certainly is easier for them to find stuff they don't like. It glows like neon when they crack open a book that, in their opinion, sucks lemons. James Frey is that writer for me. I have a hard time calling him a writer...but that's a personal opinion...just mine. And I'm just using it as an example. It actually makes me happy that someone so unbelievably bad could get published.

I love Joyce, who was mentioned up thread...but I also got a lot out of Dan Brown's stuff...I'm not saying he's a wonderful writer...but I got lost in his story...I enjoyed it. I don't have to be madly impressed to be entertained. I cherish my Joyce and my Dostoevsky and my Shakespeare and my Mallarme and my Voltaire and my Hawthorne and my Dickens, etc, etc, etc...but I also adore my King and my Salinger and my Chabon and my Rice and my Brown and my Toews, etc, etc, etc.

I'm a writer...I can't disqualify the writers around me because they are from this day and age...they are in my day and age. I try to learn something from every writer I read. They are in a position that I have not yet achieved...therefore they have something to teach me.

Still, it's fun to find one that I don't like.

Birol
03-16-2008, 05:47 AM
Your last paragraph creates a circular argument, since most books deal with the same themes, and all authors are imitating/contradicting something else. The question of whether or not to read books is highly rooted in originality. Your question doesn't take into the account the inauthenticity of many writers. Is it fair to give credit to a plagiarist? What about read books that imitate to the point of having similar sentences? *Aragon* cough.

Well, no. Not really. You seem to be misinterpreting her last paragraph. It's quite possible to tell the same, or a similar story, in different ways.

The classic authors that you purport to love and admire so much? Originally was not their strong suit. During Shakespeare's day, the height of artistic genius was not to do or tell something that no one had ever seen before, but to tell the same story better than anyone had done previously. "Romeo & Juliet"? It was based on a poem called "The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet" which was based on a novella written in Italian, all of which would have been familiar to Shakespeare's audience. I've read both the play and the poem and the characters, settings, and plots are the same. They're either used or told differently.

Thomas Hardy used some of the same situations and imagery found in Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" in his Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Imitation is far from a modern phenomena. Actually, modern writers do it far less than their historic predecessors.

JBI
03-16-2008, 05:48 AM
You say just because you dislike an author, you don't dislike his contemporaries, but just because you like an author, you haven't really said if you like his contemporaries. It would be difficult of course, if you aren't a specialist of that time period to really know though. Not many contemporary works of, lets say, Voltaire, are still read today, relative to the amount produced. How many of those do you read the same way? What do you think really makes that distinction? Availability or content?

JBI
03-16-2008, 05:50 AM
I'm sorry Bristol, but it is you who are mistaken. Only the plot was borrowed, the characters did not exist, since character really didn't didn't exist, before Shakespeare. Plot is only a minor aspect of the story, the major aspect is character, and theme, which, between the poem, the novella, and the play, are completely different.

Birol
03-16-2008, 05:53 AM
The userid is Birol, JBI, and I'm not mistaken. The characters did exist. I've compared the poem and Shakespeare's play side-by-side. Done presentations and a paper on it even.

ETA: The idea of characters did exist before Shakespeare; they did not originate with them. It is important, when studying the classics, to remember that their creators did not exist within a vacuum. They were part of society and culture. They existed among and with their fellow man. They also did not just spring into being as literary masters, but were part of a long line of writers and storytellers, that stretch back into pre-history and will continue long after you and I are toast. They were building on what came before, just as we are doing.

KTC
03-16-2008, 05:53 AM
You say just because you dislike an author, you don't dislike his contemporaries, but just because you like an author, you haven't really said if you like his contemporaries. It would be difficult of course, if you aren't a specialist of that time period to really know though. Not many contemporary works of, lets say, Voltaire, are still read today, relative to the amount produced. How many of those do you read the same way? What do you think really makes that distinction? Availability or content?

I did say I go case by case. That means I decide with each author whether or not I like them. Of course I don't find an author read him and like him and decide I like all of his contemporaries. I think if you had read my post, you should have been able to discern that. I repeat, I said I decide on a case by case basis. I was trying to get across that it would be like blindly stabbing in the dark to discount all of one's contemporaries...or to uplift all of one's contemporaries. You can't pick up a Voltaire, read it and decide the other writers from his time were great. Just as you can't pick up a King, read it and judge the people who write beside him.

Please do not drag me into your argument. I prefer not to be one of the ones you take a go at, thank you very much.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 05:58 AM
Incidentally, guys, regarding old books -- might I recommend Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page) highly?

I've read most of Austen's novels on Gutenberg, because my physical copy is musty and the text is small. I've also read some George Elliot and one of Frances Hodgson Burnett's non-children's books (with fascinated horror).

It's really quite an eye-opener. As in :eek:

JBI
03-16-2008, 06:00 AM
The userid is Birol, JBI, and I'm not mistaken. The characters did exist. I've compared the poem and Shakespeare's play side-by-side. Done presentations and a paper on it even.
The names existed, but not the characters. I am unfamiliar with the poem, as much as the novella, but from what I know about the themes, in the previous versions it is the two lover's actions which lead to their downfall, rather than societies stereotypes. In the originals, they are portrayed as bringing on their doom from their own mis-actions whereas in Shakespeare, it is not their fault, but their intolerant society. That is what makes Shakespeare different. Plot meant relatively nothing to him, compared to character.

JBI
03-16-2008, 06:00 AM
Shweta, how can you read on a computer, don't your eyes burn?

Birol
03-16-2008, 06:02 AM
The names existed, but not the characters. I am unfamiliar with the poem, as much as the novella, but from what I know about the themes, in the previous versions it is the two lover's actions which lead to their downfall, rather than societies stereotypes. In the originals, they are portrayed as bringing on their doom from their own mis-actions whereas in Shakespeare, it is not their fault, but their intolerant society. That is what makes Shakespeare different. Plot meant relatively nothing to him, compared to character.

You haven't read them, but you're going to argue with someone who has studied them?

Oo-kay.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 06:03 AM
Shweta, how can you read on a computer, don't your eyes burn?

If I'm gonna read a novel online, my screen's brightness goes down to minimum and the type looks like this.

JBI
03-16-2008, 06:06 AM
I'm sorry, but the fact that the original was little more than 3000 words makes your argument seem the flimsier. However, this seems to have hijacked the thread again, so I'll let it die with your next statement, though, you, having studied the poem, must surely acknowledge the vast differences between the two (the time span of 9 months to 4 days being the most obvious).

nevada
03-16-2008, 06:08 AM
You haven't read them, but you're going to argue with someone who has studied them?

Oo-kay.

He's seventeen and newly graduated from high school. It's what he does.

On the subject, there are writers I don't like and whom I won't read. But rarely do i think that the writer not worthy of reading. I just don't like the voice, or the things the writer writes about. Or I can't relate to the situation. What I do know is that even the writers people call "hacks" have done something that most of us haven't managed yet. And that's get published. Now, once I've managed that, then i'll cut down all the other writers. Cause, yanno, backstabbing your colleagues is where it's at. :D

icerose
03-16-2008, 06:12 AM
Your last paragraph creates a circular argument, since most books deal with the same themes, and all authors are imitating/contradicting something else. The question of whether or not to read books is highly rooted in originality. Your question doesn't take into the account the inauthenticity of many writers. Is it fair to give credit to a plagiarist? What about read books that imitate to the point of having similar sentences? *Aragon* cough.


What I meant by my statement is if everyone only wrote noir mysteries set in the 1920 trenchcoat era with the crusty life hardened detective narrating the story. It would get old fast.

Same goes for every other type of story. Variety is a good thing.

As for Aragon I despised it and I similarly despise that kid's attitude when he said he was the savior of young adult fiction, totally discounting several other authors who did much more than he did for it who came before him, one very close before him and during him and after him being Rowlings.

Dave.C.Robinson
03-16-2008, 06:13 AM
As writers are also readers we can dislike other writers for three basic perspectives: from those of a reader, a writer, or a person.

As a person you can dislike another writer because you just don't get along as human beings. This does presuppose that you've met them. Another related possibility may be because they have espoused beliefs you find repellent.

You may dislike their work because when you discovered it as a reader (before you started writing) you didn't like it and that hasn't changed.

You may grow to dislike it because you have become sensitive to a particular stylistic or craft choice (possibly even an error) that is a hallmark of their writing.

One thing that may affect one's feelings for a given writer is the fact that different books are written different ways and for different reasons. One book may be a labor of love where another may be written to fulfill a contract the writer regrets signing and a third because they really needed the money.

Sometimes a person may dislike a writer because they perceive that they "sold out."

There are lots of reasons. We're all human and can like or dislike others for the most rational or irrational reasons.

IceCreamEmpress
03-16-2008, 06:13 AM
He's seventeen and newly graduated from high school.

You're kidding, right?

He's telling current and former university instructors and professors of writing and literature that they don't know what they're talking about? He's telling multi-published authors that they don't know what they're talking about? From that particular vantage point?

That's...impressive, as I said before.

JBI
03-16-2008, 06:16 AM
From that point of view Nev, they aren't colleagues, but competition, other companies out for your sale. Your pragmatic arguing only means one thing, hate all other writers who steal your sales, and hate everyone who sells better than you. The money seeking writer has more cause to envy/hate his rivals, because s/he is relying on their inferiority/bad luck to better their own sales.

Birol
03-16-2008, 06:16 AM
I'm sorry, but the fact that the original was little more than 3000 words makes your argument seem the flimsier. However, this seems to have hijacked the thread again, so I'll let it die with your next statement, though, you, having studied the poem, must surely acknowledge the vast differences between the two (the time span of 9 months to 4 days being the most obvious).

No, I mustn't. One, the poem is significantly longer than 3000 words. Two, you have the time periods wrong. The poem was not nine months. Three, the differences were not so vast. They were very, very similar and in order to make true sense of some of Shakespeare's imagery and word choices, you must be familiar with the earlier works, as he is referring to them.

You may call my argument flimsy if you wish, but having not read the source material, it makes it very difficult for your opinion of my statements to have much weight.

Perhaps this is something you should keep in mind in your discussions with others? Perhaps they have looked at material that you have not and might possibly have knowledge that you, as intelligent as you obviously are, have not yet attained?

JBI
03-16-2008, 06:17 AM
You're kidding, right?

He's telling current and former university instructors and professors of writing and literature that they don't know what they're talking about? He's telling multi-published authors that they don't know what they're talking about? From that particular vantage point?

That's...impressive, as I said before.
What can I say, I learn fast. Age has nothing to do with this argument.

icerose
03-16-2008, 06:21 AM
From that point of view Nev, they aren't colleagues, but competition, other companies out for your sale. Your pragmatic arguing only means one thing, hate all other writers who steal your sales, and hate everyone who sells better than you. The money seeking writer has more cause to envy/hate his rivals, because s/he is relying on their inferiority/bad luck to better their own sales.

I believe he was being sarcastic with his post.


What can I say, I learn fast. Age has nothing to do with this argument.

Wow, that explains a lot...

IceCreamEmpress
03-16-2008, 06:22 AM
What can I say, I learn fast. Age has nothing to do with this argument.

Information has a lot to do with it. You don't have the requisite information to argue your point effectively.

Those of us on this thread who have studied literature and writing in college and graduate school, and who have taught literature and writing at the university level (and I know that there are at least two of us) actually have more information than you do. And I know that there are lots of people on this thread who have never taught this stuff for a living who have way more information than I do, so think how much more information they have than you!

Dismissing specific arguments from the basis of information with "well, you're just wrong" is not an effective debating strategy. Seriously.

Craig Gosse
03-16-2008, 06:22 AM
If I'm gonna read a novel online, my screen's brightness goes down to minimum and the type looks like this.

I, too, am a big fan of Project Gutenberg. However, I use

Which not only access Gutenberg, but provides a much easier reading environment.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 06:23 AM
From that point of view Nev, they aren't colleagues, but competition, other companies out for your sale.

Robert Jordan supported John M. Ford, and helped him be able to write. Because he thought (and said) that Ford was the best writer in America - bar none.

Other writers are not only competition. They are also colleagues. It's not a zero-sum game. No skill-based field is.


Perhaps this is something you should keep in mind in your discussions with others? Perhaps they have looked at material that you have not and might possibly have knowledge that you, as intelligent as you obviously are, have not yet attained?


What can I say, I learn fast.

Really? You don't seem to be learning at all.

JBI
03-16-2008, 06:26 AM
Yes, and saying "I have been to college and or university, and taught there, therefore I am better than you" is not much of an argument either. I have read all which I have made reference to, with the exception of the primary sources for Romeo and Juliet, which I stated I had not read, though had been in full knowledge of. OF course, chances are you have read more books than me, but you aren't everyone on this thread, are you? The fact that they are arguments means that they have opinions, therefore you, who are arguing to except other people's opinions, are dismissing mine because of your elitist perception of your own.

You had not commented on my "lack of information" before my age was revealed, therefore you had not considered it a factor before. Now you are using it as an excuse to disvalue my opinion, which, not only is illogical, but also contradictory to your previous opinions. If my age wasn't a problem before, why should it be now?

Jersey Chick
03-16-2008, 06:28 AM
From that point of view Nev, they aren't colleagues, but competition, other companies out for your sale. Your pragmatic arguing only means one thing, hate all other writers who steal your sales, and hate everyone who sells better than you. The money seeking writer has more cause to envy/hate his rivals, because s/he is relying on their inferiority/bad luck to better their own sales.

I'm still scrolling my way through this thread - but wouldn't we all be competition with each other only if we wrote about the exact same thing the exact same way??? If I write romance, and Schweta writes fanstasy (just for an example) - we aren't necessarily competing for the same readers or even the same shelf space. Two separate but equal categories.

I don't read horror for the most part. Just not my thing. But my buying a Victoria Alexander novel doesn't necessarily take away from Stephen King - because I wouldn't be buying the King novel either way. And not buying that King won't necessarily hurt his sales because someone else will buy his and not the Alexander novel. Some will buy both. Some will say the hell with fiction and buy a memoir or a history book. I fail to see how we all secretly hate/envy each other much beyond some mutterings.

Birol
03-16-2008, 06:29 AM
JBI, we (most of us) have been well aware of your age for quite some time. Being aware of source material is not the same as knowing it. Having read something is not the same as having studied it. I read Shakespeare in high school and as an undergrad, but my knowledge of it as a graduate student is far deeper and more expansive than it was at either of those previous learning levels.

Age is not a factor. You are right about that. However, experience and knowledge is.

nevada
03-16-2008, 06:30 AM
From that point of view Nev, they aren't colleagues, but competition, other companies out for your sale. Your pragmatic arguing only means one thing, hate all other writers who steal your sales, and hate everyone who sells better than you. The money seeking writer has more cause to envy/hate his rivals, because s/he is relying on their inferiority/bad luck to better their own sales.

one, that was a joke.

two, you obviously don't know what pragmatic means. relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters : practical as opposed to idealistic That has nothing to do with my argument. of which there wasn't one, because ,see point one, it was a joke.

three, nobody is competition because people buy more than one book. So nobody is out for my sale. They just want to sell as well. I am more than happy to share the market with other writers. The more the better.

Shweta
03-16-2008, 06:33 AM
Yes, and saying "I have been to college and or university, and taught there, therefore I am better than you" is not much of an argument either.

Actually, it is. It's offering credentials, which I'm afraid you don't have.

This means you need to convince people with the force of your argument -- which is currently not happening. Mostly because you're coming across as ignorant of a big chunk of what you're talking about and unaware of that ignorance.


I have read all which I have made reference to,

Really? You've read all of "genre fiction"? I remember a big claim a few pages ago about it.

Here's the thing. The more sweeping your claims, the better and more informed your arguments need to be. And the more due you need to give contrasting opinions. At least, if you want your opinion to be convincing to anybody.


The fact that they are arguments means that they have opinions, therefore you, who are arguing to except other people's opinions, are dismissing mine because of your elitist perception of your own.

No, I think she's arguing against your opinions because they are ill-founded overgeneralizations. That's not elitist. It's an issue with a poor argument style.


You had not commented on my "lack of information" before my age was revealed, therefore you had not considered it a factor before.

....Before you admitted to not having read the things you're arguing about, JBI. Your age is only a factor in that people are being kinder to you than they might otherwise be.


ETA: I'm not trying to pick on you, seriously. I'm trying to help you understand why the truths that are obvious to you are not being well-received here. It's not just that we're all hacks biased towards hacky hackery, really :)