Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Literary Snobs

I have just spent a day comforting a friend of mine who received a scathing review of her very tidy novel. I can only put the reviewers comments down to prejudice. One of the most disappointing aspects I have discovered about the book world is the snobbery. Writers sneer at authors of other genres and even those within their own. I used to believe that, as writing requires some degree of intelligence, I would find the literary world inhabited by the open minded and that encouragement would be strong but I was quite wrong.

I have friends from all genres, I know they work just as hard as I at presenting their work in the best possible way and I respect that. It isn't a doddle to write a romance, it isn't a cop out to write a fantasy; it takes just as many hours of self denial, solitary confinement and every bit as much hair ripping and despair.

If the writing is in a style not favoured by a particular reviewer, it does not make the book 'crap.' If the writing flows, is pleasant to read and the story can hold the attention and please enough readers then the book is worth publishing, whether it be via the mainstream or the self publishing route. One opinion is just that, one unimportant opinion.

Of course new writers will make errors, all writing is a learning curve no matter what giddy heights the author has achieved. It does not help emerging talent to have reviewers (who are often misinformed) make slating comments. A harsh review can make or break a debut novelist. I am not suggesting that we should be 100% congratulatory but whereas constructive criticism is always positve, slating can only do harm.

It is only a dream to hope that all writers will one day unite to support and encourage their fellows and perhaps forgive mistakes that they may someday make themselves. We all make errors, William Shakespeare's historical plays are peppered with inaccuracies and prejudices but nobody ever suggested he should give up. It is fiction we are writing after all. There are no 'truths' in history, only opinions.

I advise all writers that if you love to write, have to write then do it for yourself and ignore the critics who are often frustrated authors themselves. Believe that your book is good; your words will be enjoyed by somebody somewhere so stop feeling sorry for yourself, show those negative critics a thing or two and GO FOR IT!

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