Okay now that I have finished my gobs of work, I wanted to comment further on something I touched upon last night, and Moonrat mentioned on her blog today.
So apparently, Orhan Pamuk is an asshole. I'm not sure if one person's words is enough to verify this (as always, I'm trying to keep an openmind hahaha), but let's say he is. Supposedly he's conceited and pretentious. Should I let that affect my opinion of his writing? Should that prevent me from wanting to pick up his novel?
Let's plug in some other authors.
If J.K. Rowling were a bitch, I'd still read Harry Potter. But I think it's because its her imagination I'm interested in, not her skill as a writer (she says haughtily).
If Kazuo Ishiguro were an asshole, I'd still read his writing, but I might feel a little different about his characters. His writing has strongly relied on the unreliable narrator though, so for some reason, that makes it more okay. Like he's hiding things anyway.
If Edwidge Danticat were a bitch, I'd be crestfallen. Because her work is so honest and beautiful and good (like a good person) that I'd feel like she was hypocritical.
If Denis Johnson were an asshole, I'd hope he'd at least be a funny crazy asshole. Then I'd dismiss it as the effect of the crack.
Okay, so I guess it also depends on what kind of person I'm assuming they are, based on their writing. But at the end of the day, this is big for me: I hate pretentious artists.
Thing is, I'm a big believer of writing for yourself. I think it's almost difficult to do it, when you're thinking about what sells, and what's marketable and stuff. But I'm strong on the "art" aspect of it, which is why I've been resistant to fall too deeply into "the industry". I feel like once you start trying too hard to cater to an audience, your work becomes less honest, and what I like most about writing is how it captures the essence of the truth.
That being said, you always hope that by being honest, your work resonates with someone. And if it does resonate with someone, understand this: that you are not better than they are because you could put it into words. I've always felt that if someone understands my work, then they understand me; if they understand me, then we must be kindred at heart. And the only difference is that I was able to find the right way to say what we both wanted to feel. Your work exists because of you, but it does not exist for you.
For that reason, I think an author should always be respectful to his or her readers. These people are people who identify with what you've written. You're on a similar plane. Having them read your crap is almost self-indulgent. Be nice, because in some ways they might just be like you. Be nice, because you wouldn't be there without them. Be nice, because isn't the point to reach people?
I sometimes feel like pretentious writers should have their own little club, and they can have some pretentious academic fans. The rest of the writers, who are normal people who just happen to like to scribble down words, we can all hang out.
Also, I think writers could benefit from MEDIA TRAINING! Alas, it's so expensive. But that's okay, you know? No one is asking you to be the life of your party. Just smile and be courteous. Say thank you. Look em in the eye.
If I ever were to be lucky enough to make it up there, I'd wait however long it takes to sign every last book. Man, I'd build that into my schedule. I mean, those people are there for you. They love you. They don't even know you but they read your baby and they love you. You should love them for that too.
Also, because (as the art of schmoozing has taught me) you never know who is in your audience. Even if you're a big shot writer, who's to say your favorite movie producer's niece isn't in the audience (and is dying to have your book be optioned) or another agent who is curious or, even stupid things like the doctor who might operate on you one day or a real estate agent willing to cut you a deal or the person that could be your future man-of-your-dreams' sister or something?
Boo on pretentious writers.