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evanjclark

evanjclark

Is It Just Me, Or...

... didn't people used to write books in order that other people might read them?

 

I say this because it seems, more and more, like there is some kind of divide between modern authors and the readership, all based on the idea of quality and opinion. Now, I know this doesn't apply to all authors, and that the minority of badly-behaving writers only seem to have such power because they are so vocal (and on occasion they use their supporters to squash dissent, much like our favorite authoritarian leaders have always done,) but it occurs to me that if the author isn't writing for a reader, then what they hell are they doing? Making word sculptures?

 

If the book in my hand was only meant for me if I liked it, then please someone explain the reason for its existence. After all, if I liked it, the author gets to pat him or herself on the back and do twenty cartwheels to the deafening sound of brass bands and fireworks. But if I didn't, how did it get here in front of me? Was there some kind of mechanism that made it magically appear, just to confound my sensibilities, or perhaps, just maybe, did the author make a drastic mistake and actually publish their work? Because if they did that, then it kind of exists for its own sake now, no longer attached to the author's emotional and mental whims, and in fact, no longer belongs to only them but to the entire public, right?

 

If I'm wrong about that, please let me know. Until then, I defend my right and the right of every reader (or if you'd rather, customer if you want to get technical, thereby giving the right of critique to the person or institution that paid for the damn thing) to look at any book and ask what the fuck is this shit?

 

I came across an interesting piece on this earlier this morning, containing a wonderful solution. It said, and I'm paraphrasing, that if some authors demand that only professional reviewers post about their work, then by extension, readers should demand that only professional authors publish their writing at all. This is the crux of it, and the way things really are, if you think about it. Amateurs may write all they wish, hundreds of thousands of pages, and no one shall say an ego-harmful thing to them about it. But if an author allows those pages to be made public (aka publishing), then all bets are off. Professionals are subject to criticism of their work, amateurs are not. Period. 

 

So if you write, keep writing. If you read, keep reading. But if you want others to read your writing, you'll need grace, patience, and an ability to shut the fuck up when someone has the gall to not actually enjoy your work. This is also known as being a grown-up. 

 

Now it's time for my coffee.