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For the Children

Dear Teenagers in the World,

It has come to my attention that authors in the blogsphere are telling you that your writing sucks.

Apparently some of you have taken this badly, perhaps because you dream of being continually poor and with a career in an industry that, like all industries based on an art form, are designed to make money out of those who are the talent. Perhaps not, though. At any rate, you've not enjoyed hearing that you suck because of your age.

Well, get over it.

You do suck.

But then, and perhaps more importantly, most of the authors telling you that you suck, are shit.

In fact, most authors are shit. Most published authors, I mean. Ask any author: 99% of what is out there is shit, which means that most published authors suck fucking ass. And I don't mean in a good, sexual deviant way, either. If you dig that, that's cool, but what we're talking about here is literature, and most of the authors on bookshelves being sold to you right now are innocuous, bland, inoffensive, and with all the writing skills of your dead bunny rabbit. Live ones have slightly more. The failure of literature in this new century is not a failure of ambition, or of an author writing out of his/her comfort zone--of which the failure is, quite often, an interesting one--but the success of the repetitive and safe nature of the work that is written not to offend or confuse a reader. Because of this, most published authors are highly derivative of the influences that they have; the market wants what has already been proven, and so risks are hard to come by. In speculative fiction, in fact, you could argue that as a whole the genre is held up by authors who are living out their childhood dreams by writing about spaceships and knights and destiny. Other industries are similar--after all, why would talented men and women spend their time writing and drawing Superman and Batman when they could be creating their own work...

Oh, for the money, you say?

Yes, well, for the money is always the sign of artistic pursuit, isn't it? That totally puts you in a position where your shit don't stink.

The correct response to authors telling you that you suck is to raise your middle finger and say, "Fuck you, you old fuck." Then you are to beat them, like a scene from Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, which you should have read instead of those authors who are telling you that you suck. For here is a truth you should take: If you are reading bland and innocuous authors who take no risks and plough an already mapped territory, then you will in turn become a bland and innocuous author who is derivative of their already derivative work.

Listen to me:

Originality is a scant and rare thing and chances are you don't have it.

That is why you suck.

That is why most authors suck.

You are no different to the average.

Yours,

The Cranky and Cynical Author of this Blog.

Comments

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kaolinfire
Jun. 21st, 2007 03:02 am (UTC)
I'd say "they" suck for a variety of reasons, of which attempting to create "pap" is only part of the issue. And that's probably NOT why 99.99% of people telling them that their work isn't up to snuff are saying such.

There is, still, craft, and art (though hopefully not too much artifice). And originality (it's tough--what's original? or rather, which part are you going to consider original, and which derivative? The difficulty in not comparing one book to another is not only that everything is derivative but also that it is human nature to make comparisons and ... er ... back to the original statement, man! sorry)--originality is not the be all and all in itself.

Rather, for some people it is, and for some people craft is all there is. For some people, truth is all there is, and others fiction. (and, and, and...)

But I don't mean to step on the parade of your rant. It's a tried and true complaint, and ... people like pap.

Unless you're just writing for yourself (and there's another rant you might make some time you're bored?), there's an art in getting people to swallow things more complex than gruel.
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
see, the problem here is that people like shit, because that is what people are fed. if you give people more range, more choice, and change the way that the word literature is used... well, who knows.

originality is a large and encompassing thing. it does mean the ability in which you write. the way you put words down. the ideas. the thoughts. the structure. it applies to craft, to fiction, to non fiction, to whatever you got. that's how i meant it. be original. in whatever form you're writing. be original. in every way you can.

it's not a difficult statement, really. be original. don't talk round it, don't find ifs and buts and maybes, because you can do that in everything. be original in every which way that you can.
(no subject) - kaolinfire - Jun. 21st, 2007 03:17 am (UTC) - Expand
deborahlive
Jun. 21st, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)
Dear Ben,

I'm thinking of starting up a mentoring program for young writers...you in?

xo
D.

benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
yeah, okay. i'm in. let me preach to the young.
(no subject) - kaolinfire - Jun. 21st, 2007 03:18 am (UTC) - Expand
ironed_orchid
Jun. 21st, 2007 04:59 am (UTC)
What you said. Yup.
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
yay! crankiness!
ataxi
Jun. 21st, 2007 04:59 am (UTC)
What do you think of David Mitchell? My latest fad.
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 05:02 am (UTC)
the CLOUD ATLAS guy? i've never read any, though it's on my list to do so.
(no subject) - ataxi - Jun. 21st, 2007 05:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buymeaclue - Jun. 21st, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ataxi - Jun. 21st, 2007 01:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buymeaclue - Jun. 21st, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ataxi - Jun. 22nd, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 12:23 pm (UTC)
see, that's the ticket.
bluetyson
Jun. 21st, 2007 08:35 am (UTC)
Where did you buy the Warren Ellis Personality Implant?

:)
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
pfft.

i am totally using the bill hicks implant ;)
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 12:25 pm (UTC)
:)
buymeaclue
Jun. 21st, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
>Then you are to beat them, like a scene from Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, which you should have read instead of those authors who are telling you that you suck.

Hee!
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
it's a good book--way better than the film :)
ex_chrisbil
Jun. 21st, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
I read this earlier, didn't think much of it, then randomly stumbled across the blog post that (I believe) you are talking about through something else... anyway, touché!
benpeek
Jun. 21st, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC)
you should never doubt my sarcasm ;)
(no subject) - ex_chrisbil - Jun. 21st, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Jun. 21st, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_chrisbil - Jun. 21st, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Jun. 21st, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ex_chrisbil - Jun. 21st, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Jun. 22nd, 2007 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
ohilya
Jun. 22nd, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
Sturgeon's Law, but crankier. I can dig that shit.
benpeek
Jun. 22nd, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
everyone loves the cranky.
elenuial
Jun. 24th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
I just read LeGuin saying this, but a bit more politely.

Still a valid point, though.
benpeek
Jun. 25th, 2007 05:53 am (UTC)
me and leguin, we be like *that*.

heh.

where'd she say it?
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