~ Hob Nob & Snobs ~
I’ve recently been on a campaign as any good writer should be, to build my platform, tweeting, pinning, linking, following and commenting on blogs. The other night I ran across blog comments which stirred my mind and kept me from sleep. I came to the conclusion that:
I say we, because I find myself looking down my nose at non-literary novels and perhaps why I’m trying the traditional publishing route. The comments and my feelings niggled me so much so, I had to write about it. The first thing that riled me was that many of commenters had not even read the novel they were dismissing:
“I heard how terrible the writing is.”
“I haven’t read it either and the idea of doing so makes me feel a little sick”
“I attempted to read the first one only to put it down. It wasn’t the subject matter, it was the writing that turned me off completely.”
It hit too close to home I had done the very same when a gal in our book club had suggested a very, multi-million going to be a movie, novel (yes, I’m talking about the author E.L James and 50s Shades of greenbacks). So why are we so snobby?
Somerset Maugham writes: “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”
IS OUR SNOBBINESS A BAD THING?
YES and NO. Yes it’s bad to be snobby, because obviously James did something we would all like to do (write a best-seller) And we think she did it the “wrong way.” And it is easier to point out what she did wrong than see what she did right. Literary snobbiness keeps us blind to thinking outside the box and knowing our box, (who is your audience).
Seth Gordon writes (re: Polaroid and Kodak)
“It turns out that what people actually wanted was the ability to take and share billions of photos at vanishingly small cost.
The ‘quality’ that most of the customer base wanted was cheap and easy, not museum quality.
This confusion happens all the time. Quality is not an absolute measure. It doesn’t mean ‘deluxeness’ or ‘perfection’. It means keeping the promise the customer wants you to make.”
This applies to writing and the James model. She knew what her customer wanted, (lots of steamy, kinky sex), and her customer didn’t care if she dotted her “I”s. She also gave her audience compelling characters which sustained the interest of the reader through three novels. Not your cup of tea? You’re not her box.
This still hasn’t solved the riddle of why are we snobby? A couple things come to mind. We want to be thought of as smart, intellectual, above the norm, if we like something common, are we then common? If we like James are we idiots who don’t know good literature? No. I know how to cook all kind of gourmet dishes and how to prepare healthy mouthwatering meals, but every once in a while I just want a hot dog. I’m not suggesting a steady diet of hot dogs, you are what you eat, you are what you read), but once in a while, it hits the spot. The second reason we’re snobby is we’re a wee bit jealous. Yup, jealous of that writing? No, jealous of that success.
Because although James knew her audience she is an exception to the rule, not the rule. She is an anomaly in the world of Indie, Traditional and Self-publishing. We must continue to strive for excellence in our writing, editing, character, plot, pacing and voice. Two thoughts to keep in mind as we go forth and write:
No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing. ~E. B. White
It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly. ~ C. J. Cherryh
What do you think? Are you a reader snob? What do you think makes snobs? Do you think it’s okay to be snobs?
Tam Francis is writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page