I’m a member of a couple of writer’s groups here on Facebook, both of them affiliated with my school. It’s a place where we are all supposed to talk about writing and our classes (I guess). What I’ve seen so far hasn’t impressed me much about this community…
Last week, there was a professor in one of the groups who posts about how stupid he thinks one of his students is for not understanding the assignment, while in the other group that exact student is asking for help because she doesn’t understand the assignment. I can actually see the professor’s point, but –
1.She is new to school, and it’s probably been years since she’s been in the school environment — which is true for most of the students I go to school with (including me). Cut her some slack.
2. You’re a professor. Act like a fucking adult, and have some tact. Don’t post in a group of students about how stupid you think a student is. You’re teaching an Introduction to Creative Writing class — these people are Creative Writing majors. Duh –she’s probably going to see your post in this group.
I’m not sure if she actually did see the post, but it was insulting to every student who’s ever needed to ask for clarification on an assignment…I’m always nervous when I first start a class, and even the simplest things can seem confusing at first. Some common fucking decency and understanding would be appreciated.
Sorry, I just get a little fired about this kind of stuff.
Then comes the discussion of how the 50 Shades trilogy is the top-selling book in the digital realm for last year. I read through the post and all the comments and found two people who had actually read the series before they commented — and there was only one that had something nice to say. Now, everyone is entitled to an opinion — but not when you are forming it based on hearsay. Maybe these people are jealous because of E.L. James’ success. I don’t know them, so I’m not going to form an opinion. That wouldn’t be fair.
But here’s where I think they’ve gone wrong. Instead of dismissing the 50 Shades trilogy, maybe they SHOULD be reading it. I’m now on my second read-through. Not because I think they are the best written books of all time — and not because I really want a BDSM relationship. I’m reading it this time for research. I read through the first time for entertainment. Now I want to understand some things a little better –starting with Christian. Christian Grey is a really compelling character. I think for me it’s because he’s a dream guy– he’s rich, powerful, sexy, and good-looking. He’s also a fixer-upper. At the end of the last book, James gives us a glimpse of the story through Christian’s eyes, and I after reading that I can honestly say I would have REALLY much rather read the book through his eyes. Ana annoys the crap out of me.
I see the comparison between the 50 shades books and Anne Rice’s Erotic Sleeping Beauty books a lot. I own these books too, so here comes my opinion. I used to be a huge Anne Rice fan before she kind of started to scare me with her craziness. (Pretty hard to do with me). ANYWAY, the books are similar, but I don’t think a book that has people acting like horses and competing in horse races with butt-plug tails is something that’s ever going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
I don’t know about the rest of these writers, but I chose this major because I want to write stories that people want to read, and I’m hoping that will be a lot of people — not just my mom. I read books because I like to be entertained and I want to care about the characters so much that I have to read the book every couple of years just so I can hear from them. So if a book is highly entertaining, then how can it be considered a bad thing? Why do you read a book, if not to be entertained?
I’ve also read ALL of the Twilight books. I have an opinion on those as well — and once again, I’m allowed, because I’ve actually picked up the books, and read all the way through. And again, was it the first (or the best) teenage vampire romance ever written? NO. Personally, I’ve always preferred the Vampire Diaries –the books, not the show– because I read them for the first time when I was 13 and they were a big deal to me. But these specific books spoke to millions– and they loved them.
That doesn’t automatically mean these books have to be perfect in order for them to be enjoyed.
I’d LOVE to pick up a book and not find one thing that bothered me. Some of my favorite authors do things that make me nuts– they use too much description (I don’t give a shit what pattern is on the stupid couch), they misspell words (seriously, how does that get through editing?), and sometimes they even have their characters do things that (in my opinion) they would never do — which will sometimes make me stop reading altogether. But the thing is, I don’t judge them for it, or decide that they aren’t good writers because of it. James (and Meyer) still put in the time and effort to write these books. Maybe I’m just different, because it takes A LOT to make me put down a book. I read EVERYTHING — and it hasn’t made me more picky. It’s made me more open to experiencing new stories — even when there’s something not quite right about it.
Every time an author makes it huge, their work goes under a microscope, and many people dismiss just because of their popularity — they simply refuse to read, listen or watch something if “everybody else is doing it”. Which is fine. Live your life, man. Just don’t go around spouting venomous opinions about something if you have no right to that opinion. And if you go into a situation saying to yourself “this is going to suck”, then it’s probably going to suck, and mostly because of your bad attitude about it.
My bottom line here is that I really wish that writers (or maybe just people) could support each other, without the jealousy and the judgement. Why does their success have to mean that there’s something wrong with their story, or writing in general, or our entire culture? I think it’s sad that we can’t all celebrate someone else’s success — and not to act like their success makes the rest of us a failure.
P.S. I’d like to give a shout-out to my Novel Nuts ladies– thanks for being the group I DO like to go to and read the posts. I appreciate the enthusiasm and support from you ladies.