Monday, June 18, 2012
A Tribe Divided
Children's-book author Caroline Starr Rose has written resolutions to guide herself toward the life she hopes to lead. One of those resolutions is to speak well of fellow writers whether she knows them personally or not and whether she likes their writing or not. "These are my people," she reasons. (For more of Rose's resolutions, click here, here, and here. )
I'm with Rose. A mystery writer has more in common with the author of an angsty YA than she does with the police detective she interviewed for her story. The YA writer may not read historicals but understands the effort the historical writer puts into creating dialogue that's true to the characters and the time period. Writers know how hard it is to put words on a page and how agonizing it is to rearrange and/or cut them.
So why can't we all just get along?*
We suspect those who self-publish require instant gratification while those who contract with Big Six publishers need hand-holding.
We malign other writers' choice of genres and think nothing of telling a paranormal writer we hate vampires/ghosts/things that go bump in the night. We joke that a literary novelist wouldn't recognize a plot if it kidnapped them and held them for ransom. Deep down, we think YA writers never grew up.
Writers who are prolific are superficial. Writers who take three years to crank out 90,000 words lack discipline. The stereotypes go on and on, which is ironic in a tribe that prides itself on originality and avoidance of clichés.
Congress is divided, but writers shouldn't be.
I wouldn't talk up a book I didn't enjoy, but I don't have to talk down about it. I'm not required to praise another writer but can't bury him/her with passive-aggressive comments. When I'm rooting out clichés in the manuscript, I can toss those that have made themselves at home in my head.
Writers are my people and I owe them and myself respect.
*Rodney King, 1965-2012, RIP