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SOCIAL STATUS among Authors? (1 Viewer)

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luckyscars

WF Veterans
S you are saying the genre normally dictates the social status of the writer in the writing world, but if they are good enough at writing, or run away with Shelly or something, they can move up the scale despite the fact that they write in a genre that is normally despised, or at least looked down upon. No, sorry, ignore the bit about Shelly, I couldn't resist it, naughty Olly.

Yeah, I think a good enough writer can more or less ascend in status regardless of genre. I say more or less because I don't think that's always true. Like, erotica may have some genuinely brilliant writing but it's totally handicapped by the subject matter and the stigma attached. Less extreme: I think Louis L'Amour, who wrote pretty much only Westerns his entire life, was probably undermined by his apparent dislike of any other type of book, and that meant that despite huge sales he never really built the legacy despite being a brilliant writer, in my opinion. So, genre choice can definitely in some cases totally box you in status-wise.

Do you think it is possible that , with some exceptions, the people who write in the genres esteemed lowest don't usually write as well as those who write in the more esteemed genres and that what people really admire and award status for is a good bit of writing, which would account for there being individuals awarded a status incompatible with that normally awarded to their genre?

Just a thought.

I wonder if there are writers in the higher status genres who are really despised? Maybe they never get published. complete lack of cred there :)

I don't know, it's a good question.

I do think some genres are far more flexible when it comes to quality of writing. I don't think really any genres are totally accommodating of bad writing, but real genre fiction tends to seemingly tolerate, if not outright prefer, 'workmanlike' standards rather than 'high' standards.

For example, your typical beach read romance is supposed to attract mass market appeal. Most adults in America simply don't have the reading skills or attention span necessary to engage with complex, high level literature, so a writer who tends towards writing that way, may do as poorly within those kinds of genres as a 'bad writer'.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Nobody is winning the Booker Prize with a YA vampire romance anytime soon, and if they do it will only be because they somehow managed to go beyond the scope of genre fiction.

Romeo and Juliet is essentially a YA romance. And the ending is paranormal/speculative (the afterlife).
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I was joking with you about the supernatural elements, but the characters Romeo and Juliet are both young adults.
 

ppsage

WF Veterans
I feel like the (poorly defined) dependent variable in this hypothesis has so many differing causes that the independent variable chosen for analysis is hopelessly mired in uncontrollable contingency. It seems like its effect would often (usually?) be out weighted by writing ability and commercial popularity. We're also confronted with problems of comparing local statusifications to some general standard and with accounting for differing cultural preferences among readerships. With so much uncontrolled variability, defending idle speculation is all that can be brought to the experiment. Entertaining, but not a serious occupation.
 
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Turnbull

Senior Member
I don't know...isn't status defined more by success? Besides from the "success from something not particularly great" phenomenon of things like Twilight and 40 Shades, if one is a successful author in any genre, writers of the other genres respect. I think the people who care the most about status tend to be less successful. The more successful writers are, the less interested they generally seem to be in lording it over other writers. They still get a big head sometimes, but generally that has to do with their fans rather than other writers.

I dunno, my general impression. I think also that maybe things have changed with the advent of the internet and easier forms of publishing, because not only are there more writers to keep up with, it's harder to stand out among them. Back in the day published writers might have seemed more like a social class because there were fewer of them.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
One question: how is this thread useful at all? Mildly interesting perhaps, but as a writing discussion? How would this help anyone improve their writing?

I have misgivings on it also. That said, I think when choosing a genre it often helps to consider it in a larger context. It's the old cliche "know your reader".

Not to say you shouldn't write whatever you want, but if you have a set goal it makes sense to look at the context in which your writing is likely to be received.

For instance, if your favorite kinds of books are on the higher end of literary-ness, and if that is your goal, you need to work at your chops accordingly. Your skills need to be compatible with expectations. You have to have exemplary use of language, and a particular type of language that touches something deeper. I've critiqued a lot of self-declared 'literary' stuff that just...wasn't. Likewise, if you're the kind of writer who really loves symbolism, deep character studies, etc. then you may have difficulty writing for most horror outlets because a lot of horror outlets just don't value those kinds of things much.

There are always ways to adapt and forge a new path, but it doesn't hurt to sometimes analyze books as the consumer products they are.
 

Olly Buckle

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Patron
I feel like the (poorly defined) dependent variable in this hypothesis has so many differing causes that the independent variable chosen for analysis is hopelessly mired in uncontrollable contingency. It seems like its effect would often (usually?) be out weighted by writing ability and commercial popularity. We're also confronted with problems of comparing local statusifications to some general standard and with accounting for differing cultural preferences among readerships. With so much uncontrolled variability, defending idle speculation is all that can be brought to the experiment. Entertaining, but not a serious occupation.

Great. Poorly defined, many variables, differing causes, uncontrolled contingency, idle speculation and entertaining without serious occupation to cause vituperative disagreement; it is almost as good a subject for discussion as the weather, perfect, this thread could go on forever. :)

How about the personality of the author themselves? That has to be a factor as well, someone like Twain who could return skint from Hawaii and book a concert hall and give a lecture, fill the hall and re-establish his financial status, or start his career selling books door to door. Dickens who could manage lectures and a menage a trois, hard drinking Hemingway, real characters. Would some shrinking violet, wimp the publishers didn't even fancy sending to a book signing have any status among authors?

And useful ArrowInTheBow ? Useful has nothing to do with status, do the authors who write do-it-yourself manuals receive any status for it? No.
 

apocalypsegal

Senior Member
My opinion is that there is a certain preferred writing for many. First, literary fiction. Genre fiction writers are hacks and not worthy of respect. Second would come respected persons writing nonfiction. Anyone else, likely hacks.

In genre fiction, Romance and Erotica are generally not respected. Speculative fiction fares a bit better, but not much. Women SF writers are still giving girl cooties. Ew. Thriller, mystery and suspense seems to garner respect, except that they're still hacks to the literary crowd. Historical fiction seems to do okay, as long as it's not tied to Romance.

Traditionally published authors are better than self publishers, at least in some crowds. (Don't ask them about their bank accounts, that's a touchy subject. Any hack can make money, but where's the validation?)

It's sad to see it, but it's there. All writers are created equal, but some are more equal than others.
 

Pallandozi

Senior Member
are authors of CERTAIN GENRE typically viewed by the general public/reading community as having more value, respect, honor, and assumed competence than authors of other genre?

Yes.
And, interestingly, there are probably many writers who share the view, and suffer from imposter syndrome because of it.

On examining my personal assumptions, my hierarchy ends up looking something like:

Authors who change the world. Examples of books: Newton's Principia, The Mahabharata, Clarke's Profiles of the Future.

Authors who change how the world is seen. Voltaire's Candide, Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Poems of Wilfred Owen

Authors whose quotes, plots or characters form part of a cultural narrative. The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare

Authors whose books have practical use. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

Authors whose books inspire thought and learning. Churchill'sA History of the English-Speaking Peoples

Authors whose books are entertaining. Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi


Something could appear in more than one category, just as a writer can write in more than one genre. Splitting things between romance, erotica, historical fiction, high fantasy etc. doesn't seem to help me order the social status I accord. Even parody and fan fiction can be done amusingly.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Excellent post pallandozi. I liked the examples you have and hierarchy. You might have inspired me to try something out with the category you have put down, " how the world is seen. "
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Yes.
And, interestingly, there are probably many writers who share the view, and suffer from imposter syndrome because of it.

On examining my personal assumptions, my hierarchy ends up looking something like:

Authors who change the world. Examples of books: Newton's Principia, The Mahabharata, Clarke's Profiles of the Future.

Authors who change how the world is seen. Voltaire's Candide, Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Poems of Wilfred Owen

Authors whose quotes, plots or characters form part of a cultural narrative. The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare

Authors whose books have practical use. Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

Authors whose books inspire thought and learning. Churchill'sA History of the English-Speaking Peoples

Authors whose books are entertaining. Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi


Something could appear in more than one category, just as a writer can write in more than one genre. Splitting things between romance, erotica, historical fiction, high fantasy etc. doesn't seem to help me order the social status I accord. Even parody and fan fiction can be done amusingly.

Fay Weldon in 'Letters to Alice' talks about writing and compares it to a town. There is a low class district, a high society district, a market, even a red light district, and towering over everything is castle Shakespeare. He is not just part of the cultural narrative, his words suffuse the entire language, you probably quote him daily without thinking about it. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Fight fire with fire? Is the game up? Does your hair stand on end? Do you believe what's done is done?

It goes on and on, he coined so many phrases in everyday use it is difficult to imagine how people communicated before him :)
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
How I wish I knew everyone's real name. I feel so weird when quoting. But Olly Buckle said:

"Fay Weldon in 'Letters to Alice' talks about writing and compares it to a town. There is a low class district, a high society district, a market, even a red light district, and towering over everything is castle Shakespeare. He is not just part of the cultural narrative, his words suffuse the entire language, you probably quote him daily without thinking about it. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Fight fire with fire? Is the game up? Does your hair stand on end? Do you believe what's done is done?"

Just goes to show you how cliche-ridden Shakespeare's work is. (Joke.) Really, it IS hard to imagine what we talked about or what we said before he came along.
 

Olly Buckle

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Patron
How I wish I knew everyone's real name. I feel so weird when quoting. But Olly Buckle said:

"Fay Weldon in 'Letters to Alice' talks about writing and compares it to a town. There is a low class district, a high society district, a market, even a red light district, and towering over everything is castle Shakespeare. He is not just part of the cultural narrative, his words suffuse the entire language, you probably quote him daily without thinking about it. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Fight fire with fire? Is the game up? Does your hair stand on end? Do you believe what's done is done?"

Just goes to show you how cliche-ridden Shakespeare's work is. (Joke.) Really, it IS hard to imagine what we talked about or what we said before he came along.

Someone once sent me a PM saying how cool my name was for an author and how did I come up with it, Oliver Buckle is my real name :)
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
Well, then, Olly Buckle, I owe you an apology for my incorrect assumption! The name Olly Buckle sounds fun. Oliver Buckle sounds like an author. (for the longest time I kept reading your name as Oily Buckle-- but then one day squinted real hard and saw Olly.) Speaking of getting someone's name wrong. I have a poem coming out soon in the most prestigious publication I've ever been in. And online they've misspelled my name. (People keep wanting to put an "R" in my last name so that I'm a CastRo. It must be my beard or something.:-D) So sorry, Olly!
 
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