Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Got What It Takes To Write?
Last night, I read an article in the New York Times that made the writer in me cringe and scurry away. The author, Michelle Dean was clearly not fond of the YA dystopian novels by Veronica Roth (Divergent). Michelle wrote extensively about why Veronica Roth was a pretty lame writer and how modern readers just don't appreciate real literature. When you make something and send it out into the world, people get to have opinions about you and your work. And not everybody is nice about it (of course, being nice doesn't stir up controversy and grab attention).
I read Divergent over Christmas and I liked it just fine. I've read stuff by Ayn Rand and Aldous Huxley; I'm a huge fan of Dystopia. Veronica Roth wrote a great book; it was interesting to read and it led to interesting discussions. In the comment section of Michelle Dean's article, someone mentioned that Roth had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder related to a lot of negative comments on the last book. I haven't read it, but I would bet the main character dies and people get all sad and whiny when that happens (uh, spoiler? Maybe?). So people HATED the book? And Veronica, for writing it? (I read some pretty detailed reviews and it seems people were unsatisfied by the way the plot unravels. Fair enough.)
Deep down, we know how it works, right? Whether it's authors, actors, musicians - we glom onto them when they make something we all love and then sit on their heads and yell at them to make something new, something better, something NOW! We aren't satisfied with a cool book, we want a trilogy, and a major motion picture, and bonus features! And you better hurry, before we forget how much we liked it and find something else to glom onto. The People in Charge (i.e. the guys who's talent is making money off of talented people) wring everything they can out of one person and leech onto the next big thing. And we totally support that behavior.
Look. I wrote a children's story of about 500 words and let me tell you, it is not the greatest book the world has ever known. But it makes me smile. Over the last year, I have realized that it takes a lot of effort to MAKE something. Regardless of the medium, to take something from an abstract idea inside your brain and turn it into something that other people can see ... it doesn't just take effort, but a lot of courage. The worst movie, the worst painting, the worst song, the worst book ever written it an AMAZING accomplishment of will power and dedication.
People, just be nicer, okay? You don't have to like everything, things can suck, we can have a negative opinion. Fine. But you can be nice about it; tactful. Polite. Good manners are COOL! Especially if you have never stepped up and put yourself out there, have a little compassion. And if you have, good gravy, a little empathy, please. Keep in mind the bigger picture and at the very least, honor the courage of others to share themselves. ("Just, please, be nice to me." is what this whole post is really saying, but I don't think it will really work. FINE.)