|I couldn't find a good picture, so here's Moe attacking Neil Gaiman|
Recently, a website that I frequent had an intriguing headline. “The Bleak State of American Fiction” the headline on the A.V. Club boldly declared, as part of their “For your Consideration” series. For those who don’t want to read the website, the “For Your Consideration” pieces are basically essays that talk about some idea in pop culture that the writer wishes to discuss, like the trajectory of Kevin Spacey’s career. No. Really.
Naturally, I was intrigued by this headline, despite being burned in the past with some of these “For Your Consideration” pieces. While the A.V. Club has been an enjoyable website in the past, sometimes the pieces can lean a little bit towards... let’s just say the “hipster.” Basically if you’ve heard of it, it’s going to suck, according to them. If you haven’t, then it’s going to rock. And if you haven’t heard of it, but are starting to, then they’re going to sell out and you’re totally going to hate it again.
Oh, and they really hate Family Guy creator/singer/director/Oscar Hoster Seth MacFarlane. Like... a lot. I’m all for reviews, but at times they just seem mean.
The article about the “Bleak State of American Fiction” turned out to be little more than a stealth review of MFA vs. NYC, a collection of essays about how being a writer sucks. (That’s what I took away from it.) The book (and in a way, the writer of this essay) ask the question “writers write. But what do they do for money?” And then basically the writer sums up the book as saying there are only a few avenues to really get published these days, they all suck, and anyone looking to get into writing should probably pick out which cramped little hovel they want to live in as they’re fed peanuts to churn out what they want.
It’s a bleak stealth review of a bleak collection of essays.
Also, quick side note: I’m not sure why they didn’t just review the book, but it may have cut into the two books they’re lucky to review a week as well as their allotted weekly MacFarlane-bashing.
The thing is, the essay ignores the fact that it’s never been easier to get published than today. Advances in digital media allow blah, blah, blah. I started writing that sentence and I realized just how much it’s been said. You can publish anything you want on Kindle, even fan fiction. Even steamy, erotic fan fiction based on a young adult book known for how chaste and anti-sex it is then it gets picked up by a major publisher and turned into a series of three books, then a movie. Even this blog wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, but here I am, publishing on the web. It’s quite the glamorous setup I have here. And I’m grateful for all my readers, although I’m not exactly at Stephen King levels of readers just yet (maybe the early years) but my fan base is growing and I’m going to continue to post until it’s no longer feasible, or at least until my Supernatural/Gilmore Girls mashup fan fiction gets picked up by a major distributer.
Writers write because we have stories to tell. Writers write because we can’t imagine a world where we’re not putting words on paper, even if they don’t make sense, or we’re just trying to justify how a movie with a talking snowman somehow secretly tells kids how to worship the devil. (Leave. Frozen. Alone. Crazy. People. That’s another post. One I already wrote, but I feel like I need to re-write, because people are still crazy.)
Truth is, I’d write this blog even if I had just one reader, because in my soul I’m a writer, and that’s what I do. I’m going to continue to write out stories, even if they don’t get published, because that’s what I want to do: write my stuff. And I’ll continue to make fun of Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey because one is a book series about an abusive relationship, and the other is the porn version of that abusive relationship for people that don’t want to feel like they’re reading porn.
I dislike essays like the one I read on the A.V. Club. It’s the anti-writing essay, which is ironic since that essay is in fact, being written by a paid writer for a pretty well known website (As seen on the Simpsons.) But it seems to push people away from the simple act of trying to become a writer. I may never get paid for a word I write. But does that take away my need to write? Does that take away from the words I’m writing right now? Does that take away from my almost pathological need to post at least three pieces of writing a week?
I may never be famous for my writing. (I still think I will be. I’m on this side of the dirt, there’s still time.) But I’m going to keep doing. And I would encourage people to ignore the essays, written by paid writers, and continue to write. Hell, write even if it’s bad, because why not? You enjoy it. And you never know, one day you may end up hitting that deal if the right person reads your stuff. Also, you may not, but it allows you to work on that Supernatural/Gilmore Girls mashup fan fiction to your hearts content.