Monday, April 10, 2006

Anti-Snot Ten

Ten Things for the Art Vs. Success Debate

1. "Because book publishing supports the star system, like virtually every other media-related business these days, I understand why authors want to set themselves apart as better or different or more literary or more cultured or more popular." -- Deborah Branscum

2. "It's just more of the hip-deep colon-content that pervades the whole art n' literature scene, the nasty snobbishness that says that you have to be educated to be able to appreciate either, and that a book that has impossible things in it is ok if it is 'magical realism', but trash if it is 'fantasy'." -- comment by Dean Cochrane

3. "The notion of one art for the 'cultural,' i.e., the favored few in any given society and of another subart for the 'uncultured,' i.e., an excluded majority as deficient in Gutenberg skills as they are untutored in 'taste,' in fact represents the last survival in mass industrial societies (capitalist, socialist, communist — it makes no difference in this regard) of an invidious distinction proper only to a class-structured community. Precisely because it carries on, as it has carried on ever since the middle of the eighteenth century, a war against that anachronistic survival, Pop Art is, whatever its overt politics, subversive: a threat to all hierarchies insofar as it is hostile to order and ordering in its own realm. What the final intrusion of Pop into the citadels of High Art provides, therefore, for the critic is the exhilarating new possibility of making judgments about the 'goodness' and 'badness' of art quite separated from distinctions between 'high' and 'low' with their concealed class bias." -- Leslie Aron Fiedler, from his book Cross the Border - Close the Gap

4. "As for the sordid appetite for advancement, the sullying dream of making it? Leave ambition to us "commercial" writers, congregants of the wire racks. Honestly, she's in good hands. We'll treat her like a goddess." -- Joseph Finder

5. "Whatever happened to being truly and honestly happy and excited for a friend’s success? Is this business that competitive? That we can’t appreciate the strides others make in their careers?" -- Alison Kent

6. "We can be proud just to be good at our craft, whether or not we end up on the cover of Time. Leave the judgment of art to our grandchildren." -- Crawford Kilian

7. "You're embracing entropy here, doing your bit to hurry along the heat death of the universe. No matter how deep into the pits your characters sink, you never need worry about getting them to notice that their lives are shit or that they're worthless excuses for human beings because it's all the same." -- Holly Lisle

8. "Maybe you just stay there in bed and stare at the ceiling a little longer, because in your heart you really don't want the best cover, or the starred reviews, or even Steven Spielberg directing or John Grisham sharing his risotto with you. The 1.2 mil, yeah, because you haven't had a lobotomy -- yet -- but the rest, no. What you want is to get the book published. That's all." -- PBW

9. "What did you expect? That your book would come out and the money would roll in? That you won the lottery and would never have to work a day in your life ever, ever again?" -- James R. Winter

and last but not least, the one that made me laugh today:

10. "These novelists aren't paperback writers, they're artists." -- Kelley Armstrong


  1. Anonymous2:15 AM

    That's funny, we were just talking about that art vs. popularity thing. It's my opinion that what's good for literary analysis isn't necessarily good for reading, hence the disparity.

    That last quote made me laugh.

  2. The literati should remember that art is interactive. The sound of one hand clapping is "squelch".

  3. Class bias reflected?
    Gad, ma'am, I have low taste, or I'm egalitarian, or my degrees just didn't incalculate the proper attitudes, or maybe I'm just a pig's ear.

  4. "What did you expect? That your book would come out and the money would roll in? That you won the lottery and would never have to work a day in your life ever, ever again?"

    dang... it doesn't work that way?

    ah well. guess i'll keep doing it anyway, since i was writing long before i actually realized people could get paid for it.

  5. Maybe someone once said this:

    "A National Book Award would be nice, but I can't afford the paycut."

  6. I just spent a week on a cruise ship with people who love to read books and what it boiled down to for them was not art, but story. And every one of them, when they talked about story did not talk about plot, but about their favorite characters. Plot was always secondary.

    Even if you aren't the greatest stylist in the world, if you can create characters they relate to, they will buy your book.

    As for the success factor, I know of at least one NYT list writer who discovered that his fellow authors became less friendly toward him when he finally landed on the list. An attitude I can't fathom.

  7. ***I understand why authors want to set themselves apart as better or different or more literary or more cultured or more popular.***

    Hmm. I'm not more literary or more cultured or more popular. Once more, out of the loop. *g*

  8. Anonymous10:25 PM

    I didn't want those grapes anyway. Probably sour.

  9. Anonymous11:35 PM

    Thank you for posting a link to your January blog post, "Courage". You don't know what it meant for me to read that right now.

  10. I'm brandy new at this but I swear, I'm just going to keep my head down and write. Prarie Dog Writer, that's me.

  11. "I'd like to think that plot and character go hand-in-hand. What would Scarlett O'Hara would be if she wasn't chasing her man, or tearing down curtains to make clothes, or shooting Union scum?

    Plot defines character."

    I'd say character defines plot, since it is the character's reaction to events that pushes the story forward -- but this is an age old argument we probably shouldn't get into... :)

    Seriously, it's all one big juggling act. But my point was that even if your plot does define the characters, it's the character that's remembered and not the plot.

    Take Harry Bosch, for example. Can you remember all the plots to the books? Or do you remember Harry himself?

  12. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Write because you love to write.

    I never once confused my writing for art. I just do it to entertain myself and maybe others. And I never could figure out "labels" anyhow, or attitudes of superiority, or sucking-up, or Britney Spears . . .

    Anyhow, what is art to a pig may be swill to me - or did I get that backwards?

    Does the paying public, who buys these writer's works, really give a rat's buttocks anyhow?


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