It's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! The group was created by the ever supportive Alex J. Cavanaugh as a refuge for writers who struggle with their neuroses. And there certainly are a lot of us! So many, in fact, that Alex has conscripted a group of minions to help him in his duties. The minions for this month are Tina Downey, Elsie, Elizabeth Seckman, and Julie Flanders. Good luck minions! Your task is daunting, but the rewards are great!
Be sure to stop by and visit the IWSG website as well! It's a fantastic gathering place for writers who want to either air their frustrations or offer support.
Now, for the subject of this post. I would like to talk about shame. I've grown tired of people trying to shame others for the things they choose to read or write. This writing community of ours is one of the most supportive places you can hope to find, but the outside world isn't always so kind.
Sure, there are types of stories that may not appeal to our individual tastes. A story that may be well written and tell a tale that is compelling to many may not resonate with me as a reader. At the same time, I would never dream of shaming someone who cherishes that same story. Why should I? We all have different tastes, and I'm grateful that there are so many wonderful writers out there to fill the demands of readers everywhere. A world filled with imagination is surely better for us all.
Growing up in a small town in Iowa, I was always an oddball. As the sci-fi geek who carried a writing notebook everywhere I went, I struggled to make friends. Our school was small, and I didn't exactly fit in with any of the groups that inevitably formed. As I grew up, and even as an adult, people keep asking me why I write science fiction. I know plenty of people who dismiss sci-fi as stupid and far-fetched, and more than a few of them have tried to shame me for my love of the genre. Some have tried to convince me to write something else.
I know of many people who dismiss romance as frivolous and silly.
I know of people who wave off YA as if it has nothing of value to offer.
I'm tired of all the judgment and hatred. If a genre doesn't appeal to you, don't read it. You don't need to take it upon yourself to tear down someone who loves it. It's petty and non-productive, and I shudder to think how many fledgling writers may have been discouraged by those who dismissed the kinds of stories they loved to tell as unworthy.
If we all enjoyed the exact same things, the world would be a boring place. We should celebrate the diversity.
I know I'm ranting, but I've been stewing over this for the past few days. It was instigated when I read an article by writer Lynn Shepherd where she claimed that J.K. Rowling should stop writing because her success doesn't leave enough room for others. (Nevermind the fact that top selling authors make publishing companies enough money that they can afford the financial risk of taking on an unknown writer. And I personally don't think the success of others diminishes me. If anything, I diminish myself if I succumb to jealousy instead of viewing that success as an inspiration.) Anyway, the actual subject of the article could have led to some healthy debate about the nature of publishing, but I had no interest in that after reading the first paragraph of the article. That's because I, along with many other readers, was shamed for the kinds of books I love to read. Shepherd admits that she's never read a word of Harry Potter and hasn't seen any of the movies before she proceeds to say that she thinks it's a shame that so many adults read them. Apparently she doesn't deem them stimulating enough for an adult's mind. It felt like she was judging me and many others for the reading choices we make, and I felt like, as a fellow writer, she should have known better than to do this. It's just not cool.
I'm an adult. I love Harry Potter. I read a mixture of many things. I read sci-fi, fantasy, YA, philosophy books, science books, and various other kinds of books that capture my interest. I write the stories that form in my mind and appeal to me, and those are frequently science fiction. I do not feel ashamed of any of it, nor should I.
Have you ever been shamed for the things you read or write?