*For those not accustomed to this blog, in order that Sarah actually gets at least some writing time, and some relief from feeding the blog, Mondays are taken by one of my four friends. Since fans of this blog/my writing call themselves Hoyt’s Huns, these four are the Raiding Party. This week there might be a couple more guest posts, simply because I’m recovering from very bad flu/bronchitis/heaven alone knows what. So, please be patient with me.*
You are not entitled. . . . – A Guest Post By Amanda Green- Raiding Party Member
There are times I really wonder about folks. We apparently have an entire generation with a number of its members thinking they are entitled to do or have whatever they want. They haven’t been taught what it means to have to face consequences for their actions or inactions. Our schools don’t help. How can they when more and more of them are doing away with pesky little things like homework or take a test one time and learn to live with your score? Then there are the parents who don’t discipline their kids because it might damage their widdle psyches. It’s gotten so bad that there is now the pseudo-defense of affluenza that has been used to successfully keep a young man from serving time for killing several people in a drunk driving accident. Instead, he gets to go to a cushy rehab facility until he is better. Oh, his so-called punishment? He can’t see his parents during that time.
This sense of entitlement seems to have invaded every aspect of our lives. This was driven home to me yesterday when I read this article. I should have realized it was one of those articles that would drive my blood pressure up when I saw the title – If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.
Take a moment to consider what the title says. Now, look at who the author of the post is and read her byline. Lynn Shepherd. Author and copywriter.
And she’s telling Rowling to quit if she cares about writing.
Now consider that this is someone who admits to never having read a word of the Harry Potter books or having seen a minute of the movies. She really didn’t mind Rowling so much when she was “Pottering about” but she just didn’t understand why so many adults were reading the books. After all, according to Shepherd, she was bothered “because there’s so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds.” How do you make a judgment like that without first at least trying to read the books you are dissing? Oh, I know. You make assumptions and, like so many of the ones calling for the older writers in SFWA to move aside because they are no longer “relevant”, you want message novels and not plots readers actually want to read.
Okay, she does say she guesses any reading is better than no reading. That’s mighty generous of her.
However, any generosity she might have felt toward Rowling disappeared when – gasp – Rowling decided to branch out into adult books. How dare she? How dare she do something like that when she should have known her books would sell on the basis of her name alone and not on how well they were written? The horror, the horror.
The book [Cuckoo’s Calling] dominated crime lists, and crime reviews in newspapers, and crime sections in bookshops, making it even more difficult than it already was for other books – just as well-written, and just as well-received – to get a look in.
Now, I will admit upfront, I haven’t read Cuckoo’s Calling. However, the audacity of saying that Rowling shouldn’t have written the book and taken up a publishing slot other, lesser known writers could have filled – much less review slots and bookshop placement – makes me want to scream. Why not say the same thing to King or Roberts or Dan Brown or George R. R. Martin? After all, they are taking publication slots and bookshop placement from lesser known authors.
Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do.
Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. Every author who wants to sell books under to the traditional model needs shelf space. How in hell are they supposed to sell their hard copy books in stores without it? As for needing column inches, I hate to tell the precious little darling that even if Rowling wasn’t getting the reviews, it is doubtful she would. Reviewers tend to review books by well-known authors or authors who are local products or who are being pushed by their publishers. If she was being pushed by her publisher, she’d be getting reviews as well.
By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you’re doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it’s time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.
How magnanimous of her. Write in one market and one genre only or for your own pleasure. But don’t you dare come intruding on what I see as my territory. If you do, I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue because you’re just a big meanie.
This sense of entitlement, that you get to tell someone who has actually made it in the business that they need to step aside and let you have your turn even though you haven’t earned it, is beyond me. It is the same sense of entitlement I’ve been seeing with SFWA. Those who are pushing for “diversity” sure aren’t practicing what they preach. If they were, they wouldn’t be telling writers who have earned their stripes, who have been in the trenches for years and who have supported SFWA through other internal battles that they were dinosaurs who just need to go away and die. That smacks of ageism, if nothing else, and flies in the face of a “diverse” membership.
What’s worse, many of the authors they are attacking have long written characters of color and of non-heterosexual preferences. But because they don’t necessarily speak the right-speak, they have to go.
But it goes beyond SFWA. You have “Con or Bust” that Jason Cordova wrote about over at Mad Genius Club last Friday. I applaud the desire to help those who can’t afford to go to cons but who want to attend. However, I wouldn’t qualify no matter how poor I might be or how badly I wanted to go to a con. I’m white, I’m over a certain age and I’m happily heterosexual. But it’s to help build diversity.
Then there is the amendment to Tor.com’s submission guidelines:
“We want our stories to represent the full diversity of speculative fiction, and encourage submissions by writers from underrepresented populations. This includes but is not limited to writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class and ability, as well as characters and settings that reflect these experiences.”
While I agree submissions should be open to everyone, what gets me with the above statement is that it puts the emphasis on wanting a diversity of authors. Diversity in story content comes second. I’d like to think it’s because the powers-that-be recognize that there has been diversity in “characters and settings” in the genre from the very beginning. But I doubt it.
Instead of worrying about how they are entitled to their time in the limelight and their shelf space and their review column inches, these little darlings who are so sure of their entitlement ought to be worrying about writing stories readers actually want to pay money for. I know it’s crass, at least in their lexicon, to worry about such mundane things as money.
Unfortunately, too many of these entitlement darlings think they know better than the readers when it comes to what they ought to be reading. They forget that most people read for entertainment – especially if they are reading fiction. But if they allowed themselves to really consider this, they’d realize they can’t keep writing their politically correct books without a plot readers are interested in.
You want diversity in your books? Cool. Just don’t make diversity a preaching point and your story the rock you are beating the reader over the head with. You are not entitled to preach at your readers any more than they are entitled to throwing your book at your face.
This is a land of opportunity, or it is supposed to be. Look up the definition. I guarantee it is the polar opposite of entitlement. You want readers to buy your book then write the best damned book you can. You want to show readers that characters who aren’t of a traditional gender can be main characters? Then write a story with a character or characters like that. But don’t make their gender the main point of the story. It is part of who your character is but there has to be a plot, a story the reader wants to read. You are not entitled to force him to read it if he doesn’t want to.
Grow up. Learn your craft. Realize that publishing is changing. There are fewer slots than ever before in traditional publishing. So publishers are going to go with authors who they know are “best sellers” over the new author. That’s especially true when it comes promotion monies.
So, instead of bitching and moaning about how authors who have already made their mark on the industry should step aside and let your entitled little butt have the spotlight now, why don’t you take a moment to try to figure out what they’ve done over the years to get to where they are? Oh, wait, they worked hard to get where they are. They had to fight their way to the so-called top because they didn’t think they were entitled and the little darlings of today aren’t about to actually have to rely on their talent to win over readers. It’s so much easier to get an audience when you shove the others out.
The only problem with that is the audience, on the whole, won’t follow them. They don’t want to read about entitled darlings. They want to read about characters who fought the good fight. Sometimes those characters win and sometimes they lose. But they are characters the reader can identify with – no matter what their race, sexual preference, gender identification, religion, age, whatever – but who are part of plots the reader is interested in.
Entitlement is your enemy. Crush it in yourselves and get to work.