Literary Bullying?

I read this post today from the blog, Write In Between. The writer talks about the attitudes expressed to her for showing an interest in popular fiction rather then focusing on that which is “literary”. This got me thinking….

Lately I’ve come across several displays of judgmental intolerance concerning the written word. You know them–the stone-throwers–people who can’t come to terms with the fact that not everyone is just like them. There are many who thrive on building themselves up by tearing others down. But if you are a writer, behaving toward others in this manner is almost as smart as shooting yourself in the foot.

I said almost as smart…

But, not quite.

Recently I came across a blog spouting horrible insults at any woman brainless and pathetic enough to ever enjoy reading a romance novel. Turns out the writer is a fiction author. I think he writes “guy” novels–action, espionage and the like. I suppose he believes his own writing is far superior to anything the romance genre could ever produce. Who knows. He could be right.

Here’s the thing…

I sometimes read “guy” books. I was such a voracious reader as a girl, I would often pick up stuff my dad had lying around the house. As long as it wasn’t too violent (I’m not big on horror) I’d read it. Even now, I am still drawn into these types of books from time to time. And I doubt I’m the only reader in the world who is tempted to cross genre lines and try different things. So… do you see what this guy does? He cuts off a portion of his own potential audience by slinging his vicious attitude directly at readers of a certain genre.

Might I enjoy reading one of his books? Maybe. Will I ever buy one for myself or as a gift? Not a chance.  Perhaps I am stupid enough to to read the occasional romance novel. I, however, am not stupid enough to give this jerk my money.

To wrap things up, I’ll say this: every author has the absolute right to act like a pompous ass. We would never deny them that right. On the other hand, readers have the absolute right to choose which authors they do and don’t support. If you are a writer, even one who is not yet published, do yourself a favor and always keep that in mind as you tweet/Facebook/blog your opinions to the world. It only takes one thoughtless comment to destroy a career.

And if you experience “literary bullying” here’s my advice. Read the genre you want. Write the genre you want. Be who you are!

Laura Ritchie


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. therabbitholez
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 05:56:40

    Whatever happened to just enjoying books, it doesn’t matter, we live in a time when kids especially don’t really read as a pastime, so I’m always happy to kids/adults with a book no matter what the genre.


  2. Ink Smith
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 06:16:22

    No to genre discrimination! ^o^

    First, thanks to the link love 🙂 I really appreciate it. More importantly, though, thanks for spreading the word. Even though I DO think that what we like to read says a lot about who we are as people (I totally admit to being a bit escapist, as evidenced by my love for fantasy and romance), I don’t think that it’s enough grounds to JUDGE anyone for their reading list.

    It’s wonderful to see this sentiment shared.

    PS: Regarding that “guy” author you mentioned? I say “phooey” to him. It’s possible that he’s a good writer, but the fact that he went after someone else for her reading choices makes his value as a person questionable.


    • UnrestrainedFancy
      Mar 22, 2012 @ 06:30:29

      You are quite welcome. Thanks for the inspiration.

      Yea… that guy was a real piece of work. And just in case any ladies out there are dying to know… he’s single! I know. Big surprise, huh?


      • Ink Smith
        Mar 23, 2012 @ 02:32:19

        Oh, dear ^^; I think things would go better for him if he’d handled things with the more tactful statement “It’s not my thing.” Because that’s pretty fair compared to “You read romance? Gosh you suck.”

  3. Adam
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 06:23:08

    People who talk about literary fiction being better than genre fiction are pompous asses. These people will disregard almost all genre fiction with the exception of books like Lord of the Rings (which arguably started the Fantasy genre of novels). There are plenty of examples of excellently written genre fiction, just like there are plenty of examples of poorly written literary fiction.

    I review books on my blog, and while I’ve read several books that could easily be described as literary fiction, I don’t have a lit-fic tag for my posts. (For many of these books I have a catch-all tag of Drama. Hey, it works for movies right?)

    I read more Fantasy novels than anything else, but I have no problem reading anything out there. I do separate my reviews according to genre, but ultimately I think there are only 2 categories of books that matter: books I like, and books I don’t like. These 2 categories encompass every book out there, including the ones that haven’t been written yet.


  4. midnightphoenix
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 06:54:36

    Well said! Though I don’t enjoy romance novels that are strictly classified as “romance” and romance only, I don’t see any reason to belittle others for picking up a book- whatever the genre. Authors should write in the style that allows them free literary expression. Regardless of what critics may think, there will always be an audience out there ready to read it.


    • UnrestrainedFancy
      Mar 22, 2012 @ 17:14:10

      Thanks, and I totally agree with your comments. I don’t have to love every genre out there. And I might even discuss what don’t like about one of them… but always in a way that is respectful, and allows input from other points of view.

      I appreciate you stopping by!


    • Ink Smith
      Mar 23, 2012 @ 02:35:38

      midnightphoenix, you said it exactly right. 🙂


  5. beckyday6
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 09:03:54

    Well said! I hate literary snobbery, and literary bullying is even worse! Great post.


  6. k
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 18:03:21

    I have zero tolerance for intolerance ~~ even when it comes to something like reading-snobbery. Read what you like and allow others to do the same.


  7. Kirstie
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 22:20:24

    A very good point. I’ve never been a fan of elitism and I certainly don’t understand why anyone would try to alienate a potential reader. I too am a genre-hopper. I prefer fantasy (high, urban or gothic) but I’ll gladly branch out to horror/thrillers like King and Koontz, comedic horror (Max Brook’s zombie works) and womens fiction like Jodi Picoult, throw in a few classics like Jane Austen and you’ve got to admit its an ecclectic range. I’m not the only diverse reader either. Who would risk loosing even a single potential reader by mocking them?


  8. Trackback: Folded Corner 8: Literariness Under Fire? « Reading In Between
  9. Nisha
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 11:37:20

    What a great post and well said!!
    I must admit I am sometimes guilty of this, in the past I tended to look down on people who read Mills and Boon and the like. Don’t worry, I know I’m wrong and I have no right to judge.
    I think its definitely more a psychological game we play with ourselves. The need to feel superior makes us feel that we are smarter because we read more ‘serious’ literature. Of course this is just another form of bigotry.


    • UnrestrainedFancy
      Mar 29, 2012 @ 18:14:02

      Thanks! Your bigotry statement is a good way to look at it. In a lot of ways, it comes down to human nature… an urge to reject much of what we don’t understand. Who doesn’t have a tendency to roll their eyes at things they just don’t “get”? I sometimes do it too. But the decision to live and let live seems like it might be the key. Give an opinion if we feel led, but beyond that, leave it alone.


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