Thursday, February 05, 2009

FIGHT YOUR INNER TROLL...

Take careful note... we each have one of these TROLLS deep inside us...

So I guess everyone has heard Stephen King's rant about authors he thinks are crappy writers.
I would like to respectfully disagree with Stephen. During the Honolulu Book festival I was on a panel that discussed what was "bad" literature and what was "good" literature and I suppose I'll now be black listed from further panels as I said there was no such thing as "bad" literature...Let me explain. There are so many tastes and levels of reading ability that there is something for everyone -- And I don't think there's some perfect arbiter that I'm willing to let decide for me what's good writing and what's bad writing. Now I know what I LIKE...interestingly enough it's rarely what my sister likes...now my husband and I have similar tastes but Tooloose is constantly buying alien space monkey science fiction magical realism love stories that I simply can't get into...I think you get my drift.
So I don't think it's right that an author says another author is a crappy writer in an interview...I think it's a really mean thing to do. It's HARD to write a book. I refuse to diss someone publicly. It's not right...
But if we see each other at a bar and you buy me a a couple of black Russians and a few Singapore Slings...well then...all bets are off.

19 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

Well put! I’ve been a more forgiving reader since I started writing novels. I could never tear an author to shreds on my blog unless they said something truly outrageous like denied the Holocaust or similar. I don’t really see the point of a negative book review – I want to hear about books I’d like to read from people who enjoyed them. It is subjective. I missed the Stephen King rant – where?

Holly Kennedy said...

I don't agree with it, either.
Writing is hard, very hard, and having a fellow author nail you publicly isn't cool, no matter what his opinion.

What did he hope to gain? She gets hurt (it HAD to hurt to hear that) and he comes off as an arrogant bully with no empathy for his fellow author.

We all have room to grow, personally and professionally.
That includes Stephen King.

ORION said...

Yeah I really feel the same way Holly, it's hard writing a novel and getting it published and when it resonates with a huge population I think it's a gift...
And Sarah - I too am more forgiving-
The rant was in USA today but if you google Stephen King and Stephanie Meyers it will come up-
I thought it best not to put a link...

ORION said...

okay I put a link to galleycat...
look at TROLLS in the first line...

Tish Cohen said...

I'm with you, Patricia. I know how tough it is to write a book, secure an agent, get a book deal, live to see pub day...then reviews good and bad come in.

Erg.

Scaling Kilimanjaro must be less stressful! I could never wound another writer that way - not with an insult or a bad review.

Also, it's bad karma.

Bookfool said...

I cannot for the life of me understand why he would trounce on a totally innocent, best-selling author who has given millions of readers pleasure. Is he envious? Did someone kick his dog? Is he still venting all that pent-up anger from being run over? Regardless of his motive, it's uncool.

Kanani said...

Well, this kinda reminds me of the fight right now between Faye Dunaway and Hillary Duff.

'Nuff said.

Heidi said...

Amen!!

Every now and then I've read what I considered a really badly written book (as in, the wording was awkward or strained or very purple), but I finished it because darn it, the plot was compelling!

There are all kinds of reasons why people like books, and all different reasons that make a book good.

And writing one start to finish is hard - a lot lot harder than people who haven't written one think it is.

And I don't see Stephen King under literary fiction.

Sigh. I could write a whole post on this too. But you really said it best.

Dawn Anon said...

I love many stephen king stories and I quite a bit of respect for him. But i disagree with his comments.

Stephanie Meyer had my non-reading, adult son (an army soldier who has been to Iraq)reading. He read four books in about two weeks. He's recommended them to many folks. And he text messaged me daily to see if i was reading them and where i was. Apparently she can write interestingly enough for a variety of folks. I liked the story too... i loved being annoyed at the main character!

There are plenty of books that i don't finish for a variety of reasons. Recently, it was a book that was full of cliches that pulled me out of the story. But I still don't say that the writer couldn't write. It was just a style i didn't like.

yikes... how scarey to think that it's not just critics that say mean things about writers.

BClark said...

I am completly with you. Goes under the heading of something for everyone. Went through this same sort of thing with photography, and the one with the high faluting(sp) education putting down the one trying to pass their "snapshots" off as art. I took great excetion to that, as in "How dare he!!!" creep!

Janet said...

Have you read Nathan Bransford's take on it? He sums up rather nicely why there is a place for critics. And I don't think anyone would ever call Nathan a troll. ;o)

Sarah Laurence said...

Pat, thanks for the link. Now I get it.

Heidi brought up a good point about a book’s various attractions. When I review a book, I focus on the strengths, but I often mention a weakness too. I try to keep my criticism constructive and substantiate it in the text. I select books that I expect to like and stop reading if I don't like them.

One successful writer saying that another writer can’t write, especially in a public venue, is humiliation not literary criticism. I’m surprised because King’s book On Writing is fabulous and very sensitive. Perhaps the quotation was taken out of context.

I read Twilight at my tween daughter’s urging and reviewed it. Instead of looking at it as a literary work, I tried to understand why this book has captivated so many young people. I could imagine loving it as a teen too. Like my daughter, I grew up reading and enjoying the classics, contemporary literary fiction and commercial fiction.

Thought provoking post and comments!

trblmkrtess said...

Man, this is tough. I was part of a book club for a couple of years until I realized that all I was doing was reading books that I wouldn't have read otherwise...and that I was sorry I'd wasted time on after I had read them. So, I agree, that there are all levels of writers/readers and that something I think is fabulous can be cat-puke (sorry Tooloose) to the next person.

OTOH, while I think it was pretty tacky that King singled out a single author (seemed unnecessarily personal), I also think that maybe we've gone too PC. You know, every picture my kids drew as they grew up was NOT a masterpiece. They weren't perfect little darlings, and I didn't treat them as such. Life hurts, and people will be mean to you. When you put your work (heart) out there, there will be people who will stomp on it just b/c they can. I wonder sometimes if we aren't doing our kids, and even ourselves, a disservice by hiding behind dishonest "kindness"?

While many of us disagree with him re: Stephenie Meyers, at least he was honest about what he thought. I'll take brutal honesty over a honey-coated lie any day.

(No. I have not written a book, but I wrote editorials for our local paper for enough years to be both loved and reviled. It sucks to be called out in print...but I bet her book sales shot through the roof!)

How's that for riding the fence?

ORION said...

While I agree TRBLM that honesty is good -- art is a nebulous thing. What is art to me is not necessarily art to you. Novels that were panned when they came out (note Candide by Voltaire) are now considered classics.
Books that have stood the test of time were not the critic's darlings or considered "art" at the time.
I still say for one author to publicly disparage another is tacky and un cool.
And while I know that PC goes to crazy lengths -- I still think it's better than telling a child their work is crap...JMHO

David Isaak said...

I generally refrain from saying anything about a book unless I can say something nice. (The one exception is the Da Vinci Code from which I sometimes quote passages as an example of extraordiarily bad writing that sells in astronomical figures. I don't figure my opinion is going to hurt Dan Brown much.)

I don't think writers need to be public critics. There's no shortage of critics to go around.

On the other hand, I'm all in favor of Faye Dunaway and Hillary Duff fighting, and plan to go Google that. Do any clothes get torn?

Gay said...

I agree totally. I think you can say that an ending disappointed you, or that you didn't see something happening one way or another (you couldn't quite "believe")--because that's just what IS and if we all saw life the same way there would just be one (boring) book. But it has nothing to do with the skills of a writer...

But even that is difficult to say with tact, and sometimes it is better to follow my mother's advice: If you can't say something nice, it's better to say nothing at all.

P.S. I know you don't like to play the "games," on Facebook and such, but I was kind of hoping that you could be coerced into revealing 25 things about you. If not, we might have to bribe Tooloose, and the things HE chooses might not be quite what you would have chosen.

writtenwyrdd said...

Well said. Dissing someone publicly by saying they wrote a crappy book is mean-spirited and unprofessional. But I do think there are some really badly written books out there, or badly edited. More are just 'missing the boat' for me, as in they have serious plot or other flaws that but me, personally.

By the way, Tooloose and I must have similar tastes in books.

trblmkrtess said...

ORION, I totally agree that art is subjective, and there will always be disagreements about what is and isn't "art."

At the same time, I didn't mean to leave the impression that I told my kids their artwork was crap! I did the nice motherly thing...I smuggled the majority of it into the trash when they weren't looking.

However, I also preserved the best of it for each of my kids, just like my mom did for me.

My favorite pieces cover the walls and shelves of my office even though my kids now range in age from 13 to 27...I just didn't fawn over every little scribble as if it were a masterpiece.

I think enough people were offended by King's words that they (his words) will reflect more negatively on him, than on Meyers. It was an action that I wish he had seen as beneath him. It would be interesting to know if he regrets his decision, or if this will merely embolden him.

ORION said...

trbl - I totally got what you said lol!!
And yes...there has been a bit of a reaction. I know in my case although I loved his book on writing - my opinion of him has suffered.
As another commenter said
"if ya cant say something nice......."