Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Why Should I Read You?"

Happy dance time! Not only did I write a short story (16k) this month, I also finished the fourth rewrite of my urban fantasy, aka "The Zaphkiel Project." October is the BIAM_Challenge and I completed two of my three goals tonight. The next one is to plot my NaNoWriMo project before November 1.

Not a stellar accomplishment. It hasn't led to any contracts or accolades. But it means I have something to submit.

However, I digress. I've been watching Case Histories on Masterpiece Mystery. (It's also gotten to the point I'm dreaming mystery plots now. Scary thought.) This past episode dealt with private detective Jackson Brodie becoming involved with a novelist, Martin, who wants protection after a particularly nasty road rage incident.

At one point, Martin is talking to Brodie's secretary, Deborah. And she rather disdainfully dismisses his books as pulp fiction (I'm paraphrasing here), adding, "Why should I read you when I can read Mark Twain?"

It's enough for Martin to give up writing. And it's a prejudice genre writers still face. Whether we write mystery, horror, fantasy, romance, or science fiction, we are considered by the literary community to be the bastard stepchildren. Not that the genre community is immune from those same prejudices.

I decided to read Kate Atkinson's books, the ones Case Histories is adapted from. Interestingly enough, Case Histories is filed under fiction in one library while Started Early, Took My Dog is cataloged under mystery in another. And yet both are mysteries involving Brodie. 

Don't get me wrong. I love literature. Hesse, Camus, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Fitzgerald, etc. are among my favorite writers. The Stranger and Demian have had a significant influence on my writing. Steppenwolf is on my TBR pile.

But I also love reading genre writers, among them Josh Lanyon, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Mary Stanton, Thomas E. Sniegoski, etc.

We should be past this We/They divide, especially with the publishing industry being in such a flux. Writers need to support each other, not tear each other down. It's almost like the traditional vs. indie publishing argument, both of which have their benefits and disadvantages. (And I'm not getting into them here.) 

That said, read what you want to read. If you're a writer, write the stories you want to write. Because somewhere out there is an audience waiting for you.

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