Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hoity Toity

I've read a lot of literary fiction.  Started out in high school with the required classics: Gone With the Wind, Grapes of Wrath, anything by the Bronte sisters.  This morphed into college, where I delved into Annie Dillard, Toni Morrison, Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston and many others.  Some of these were English assignments, but many were a springboard into a literary world in which I had never established a foothold before.  
My mom was a crazy reader, ever since I can remember, but she never read for anything but pleasure, so following her example, I assumed that literary fiction was something you read only because you were forced to.  Thankfully, I discovered that my assumption was dead wrong.

I've read a lot of literary fiction that I absolutely LOVE.  I've also read a lot that I can't stand.  But this is all to assure you that I'm not a hater when I say this:  I'm so DONE with people who consider it to be more worthy than "genre" stuff.  

I recently read some person's self important opinion on the subject and felt downright irritated.  The point of the article—can't remember who wrote it—is that if we're going to save literary fiction, we need that icky genre stuff to pay the bills and appeal to the masses.  I.E....genre fiction, indie fiction and its associated ilk are a necessary evil in the world of literature because they keep that GOOD stuff out there for people who recognize its value.  This from a person who admitted outright that she only reads non-fiction.  Uh...WHAT???

Guys, let me just assure you... there is no better or worse in the world of writing.  No, really.  I'm not talking ratings or reviews.  I'm not talking personal opinion here, because there are definitely some stories that do it for me and some that don't.  I'm talking about space on a shelf, paper in an MS, word file on my computer... at face value, no story is more worthy of saving than another.

Let me again point out that I'm not talking about ratings and reviews here.  If we look at a museum full of art, there will be people who say this one or that one is better.  People will say, I like this one and it speaks to me.  But I should HOPE, that no one would argue that one artist's vision is more worthy of creation than another.  Even a five year old child with no experience in the art world can create something that he or she deems as beautiful which we might all shake our heads at because it is SEVERELY LACKING and yet it will still be just as worthy as the next.

I'm not going to make the "books as art" argument here, but I'm going to say that I don't believe one person's story (good or bad or amateur... literary, sci-fi, YA, non-fiction or fiction) is more worthy than another's.  So writers of the world, if you write literary fiction and you can't get anyone to publish it because it's not worth risking cash over in this new world of digital bookery, don't spend your years crying because it's too hard.  Self publish!  Give the world a chance to see your work.  But come on, people.  Let's not act like just because your characters don't use magic or roam through space that they can't tell as rich and complex or as meaningful a story as you.  

Happy Reading!

PS- To all my ROW80... Keep up the good work!


Anonymous said...

Ack. It sucks that some people are so elitist. I agree with you.

amy kennedy said...

I can't even comment, because I will lose all sense of propriety. Okay, actually, I can comment. Hahahaha! I adore my genres, even Literary! And you are so right! There's no whining in publishing any more, because there is self-publishing!

DarkWyvern said...

haha So true! I can especially relate to this as I had a teacher in my writing course who utterly hated fantasy in particular (I actually had a rant about genre vs literary fiction on my WordPress blog myself a while ago lol). There are some stories that are classified as literary fiction that I have loved, and there are genre stories that I've hated... and vice versa.