March 07, 2015

My dignity...

Where'd it go? Have you seen it?

I read a piece yesterday by an author who advised fellow writers to "abandon their literary dignity" and pen racy page turners. In fact, she went on to say (and I'm paraphrasing) that print readers were more intellectual than Kindle readers. That writers should go so far as to pen two versions of their books—one for those smarty-pants print readers and the other for the groundling Kindlers.

I thought about the interview most of yesterday. Because I have this gut feeling that the way we read will constantly change and evolve. But that the words are what matter.

Whether you're reading words on paper, on a Kindle, on a note I slipped under your door, on a bathroom wall, in a comic book, on a billboard, on this blog (ha), the words have a chance to resonate, to linger, to get under your skin.

That is, if we writers do our job correctly.

My relationship with words is complicated.

• I have favorite words.
• I edit words.
• My words are edited.
• I dream about thousands of words.

When I started writing, I wrote for magazines, newspapers, 'zines and ultimately print publishing houses. Now, I am actually able to write mostly for myself. That is the power of the ebook (and the internet).

I don't know if I believe the studies referenced in the article. But I do personally know many ebook readers. They're intellectual. They read Shakespeare, romance, books on algebra, plays, Bukowski, pulp fiction, non-fiction, and porn. Basically—they read everything.

But there's more to the piece that I didn't like. Clearly, the author doesn't think much of racy—or page-turners. Because why on earth would you have to abandon your literary dignity to write one? We all have our dignity. The definition of the word? "The state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect."

Are you a writer? You get to have that. Dignity, my friend, is yours.

I'm not linking to the piece. All you have to do is type in "abandon your dignity" and it comes up.

But this reminds me of another rant I—yes—ranted, several years ago.


P.S. Why did I have such a strong response to this? Because it pushes my buttons. I don't like when writers divide and point fingers. It feels too highschool to me. "You can't sit with us, because you're pulp. We're lit." Or "We don't like you, because you write smut, and we write historical." I don't care what you write. You can sit at my table in the cafeteria and we'll share french fries and words.


t'Sade said...

Words are words, it doesn't matter if they are printed on a page, displayed on an ebook reader, or written with a sharpy on a lovely man's buttocks. As much as someone wants to believe that one set of words is somehow magically literary and others is raunchy, it isn't a black and white line between the two.

A common complaint I've seen is "no one reads literary stuff anymore". Well, when you make a huge point of distinguishing the two, then yeah, people aren't going to read it. When you acknowledge that there is a continuum between the two, then it becomes just a simple thing. "They are reading."

Jeremy Wright said...

Agree completely. Good writing is good writing no matter what form you experience it in.Hell, I have Dark Secret Love in print, eBook and on Audible. I love listening to a good audio book. Can get lost in a good story for hours and get so much accomplished.

Looking down on any form of writing is pretty sad, Shouldn't matter how people are receiving it as long as they are receiving it.

Miz Angell said...

I'll read anything, as long as it's well written. It used to be I'd read anything. But then I realized that life is too short to read crap.

It makes me happy to see friends and family members reading, no matter what they're reading.

Su Tungpo said...

I'm truly sorry to keep butting in like this. I know you must think I'm a stalker, but I think my insomnia matches up with yours.
The only writing I've ever done was for academic publishers, where you get a copy of the journal if you're lucky. But I have to tell you that I had no idea the rates the publishers are offering was that bad. No wonder Cleis was able to offer free copies in return for Amazon reviews.
I think part of the problem is that when Borders went under it not only cost me a job but it also threw the entire business out of whack. America has never been an overly intellectual nation, most Americans still don't read, so they have no idea what is happening in the book business. To them Amazon is the big box substitute where they can order sex toys without going in to that shop next to the interstate with the 40 pound cats and the 3 foot high dildos on the counter. Even with my working for Borders I had no idea the rates were that low.
So, I ordered my first 4 ebooks last night, 3 of yours and 1 of Mz Marsdon's. I will order anything else that I can't get from them used and try to work out a way of sending 25% or whatever you feel is fair to you indirectly. Have you considered a wish list at Amazon? ;:>)


I do appreciate your work, and offer you whatever respect I have for anyone. Thank you for what you do.