My critique partner Chantele Sedgwick is featuring me today on her Aspiring Author Interview!
To continue with the food metaphors this week, I love chocolate, and I am not picky about it. Yes, you can find some “chocolate” (or actual chocolate) I dislike/wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but really, I’m good with anything from Hershey Kisses to chichi bon bons. I can taste the difference between premium and “everyday” chocolate, but if I’m really honest, I’ll take whatever I can get. I love me some chocolate.
(Oh crap, did I just admit that right before Mother’s Day?)
So maybe it’s just my indiscriminate tastes speaking, but whenever I see someone dismiss a style of writing, I am utterly baffled. I have read everything from poor pulpy thrillers to challenging mystery texts in a foreign language. I haven’t loved everything I’ve read, but I could never imagine writing off all literary fiction, or all popular fiction, or claiming that I don’t enjoy them.
The thing that bothers me the most about this, I think, is the elitism of writing off “popular entertainment.” I’m sure you don’t really mean to say, “Everyone else is beneath me because you actually enjoy this mindless garbage. Meanwhile, I strive for HIGH ART and can’t find any pleasure from anything that anyone else might enjoy. Mindless garbage, like I said.”
Okay, so maybe those are the exact words people use—but it’s definitely the impression they give (and we writers should always be mindful of what impressions our words impart!). That condescending attitude usually inspires the no-more-productive reverse snobbery railing against “plotless showmanship.”
Both sides have a smidgen of truth behind their arguments—yeah, a lot of pop culture isn’t very high quality (thank you, Dr. Fox and History of Pop Culture, for three credit hours to learn that), and yeah, a lot of literary works are more interested in pretty words than being interesting. But I don’t think anyone pursuing traditional publishing today can pretend like we can completely do away with popularity, storytelling or good writing.
(Okay, not true. I can think of people who’ve been successfully published with works that were neither well-crafted nor interesting. Or even internally consistent. ARGH. Anyway.)
But seriously, what’s with the attitude?
What do you think? Where do you fall on the spectrum? Or can you appreciate all sides?
Photo by Staso