A slight break in transmission on my posts about My Genre today, to talk about something which really saddens me.
The fact that it is National Novel Writing Month was criticised by a literary agent recently who felt that it just encouraged people who shouldn’t be writers to bang out yet another awful novel.
I have sympathy for agents and editors having to trawl through masses of very bad stuff to find even vaguely publishable material, but I don’t think there’s any excuse for slagging off writers wholesale.
The article I read that was reporting the heated response to the agent’s statement, referred to writers as narcissists and implied that there are far too many talentless people creating fiction in our digital world.
To that journalist I say – what writers do isn’t easy. It takes time, overcoming self doubt, laying yourself open to constant criticism and having to stand up and keep going after strings of rejections (for most writers) to ever get anywhere. But we are driven to create, and to tell our stories so it needs an outlet somewhere.
And don’t lose sight of the fact that some become very good writers only after studying craft hard over years, so who is to say that a NaNoWriMo or a writing course doesn’t help the next major writer become who’ll they’ll be?
Some of us will never become good writers, but writing 50,000 words (and usually a lot more) is a huge undertaking in time and dedication even if they’re 50K of crap.
I could also point out that for every great sports star, movie star, rock star and star of the business world there are many who try but lack the talent / luck / health / whatever to make it in the field they’re passionate about.
It saddens me deeply to think that people need to be so mean-spirited about other people’s drive to create. I also think that anyone making money from the results of our toil should show a little respect.
The only points I agree on in what I read about this are that, yes it is easier for aspiring writers to be given false hope that they’ll be published (and be the next big thing) in our digital world, and that yes we do need to encourage and engage readers, as they are the people who create a possibility of an income for writers.