Friday, January 11, 2013

B is for Bitch.


I don't know a whole lot about Sue Grafton. I have never read any of her work. My mom likes her books, but I don't know her, her chops, or how she sees her role as a writer. Because I am not familiar with her writing, I will not comment on it. Grafton would have been wise to take a similar approach instead of disparaging indie, self-published writers when she said:

"To me, it seems disrespectful…that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. Learning to construct a narrative and create character, learning to balance pace, description, exposition, and dialogue takes a long time. This is not an quick do-it-yourself home project. Self-publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.”

Well now...that sounds bitter and conceited. 

I am an independently published author. I have been writing professionally since I was 14. I have done the HARD work of writing and editing and publishing stories, novels, songs, and essays. I studied Creative Writing at SFSU, where they take writing VERY seriously. And all this time, I was disrespecting Sue Grafton without knowing it! I feel like such an asshole. Me, a wannabe...the nerve! Sue Grafton has every right to be outraged by something she knows nothing about. I mean, she is an 'official' writer type author person...hero to tepid mystery lovers everywhere. SHE EVEN KNOWS THE GODDAMN ALPHABET!

Self publishing a shortcut? Why did it take me so long then, Sue? Why? I mean, I spent like seven minutes doing research, wrote for a couple hours and uploaded my novel straight to Kindle, but it still took the better part of a day. Or is that not long enough for you?

Grafton's assumptions that indie writers don't do research or learn about their craft is offensive and small-minded. And the arrogant world of literature is one of the only places this shit happens. There are amazing indie bands...you don't see bigger artists calling them wannabes. Graffiti artists have become famous, but they get shown and praised. Art, produced by the artist, is a beautiful thing. But writers are insecure and elitist. Or are we? See, these generalizations are slippery things, Sue.

I bet I've written as many words as Sue. I've also worked with at-risk and learning challenged kids, introducing them to the written word. I wrote for years before I ever submitted a short story. I have studied the craft of writing for two decades. I have read the greats (sorry, I never got around to you, Sue). I was too busy reading Walt Whitman, Stephen King, James Joyce, Mark Twain and other self-published, wannabe hacks.

Writing is hard. One might even argue (listen carefully here, Sue) that writing, editing, promoting, and selling a book all by yourself is a more impressive feat than giving a draft to a team of editors and then letting the focus groups and editors/marketing gurus take your words and, let's say, 'improve them'.

I've been a writer for a while. I actively try to help other writers because I see this all as a team effort. But there is no 'I' in team. I is for individual. I is for ignorance. I is for idiocy.

Not only is Sue Grafton out of touch (some of the best writers working today are self-published), but she has the audacity to sit in her glass house and cast aspersions on 'wannabes' like me. One would think, even if she believes that all self-published, indie writers are hacks, that she would have the class to enjoy her success and not denigrate others - a whole group of people who are trying to achieve success in a field which has been good to her. She could have just written another groundbreaking novel. She could have kept her mouth shut. She should have kept her mouth shut.

I don't know anything about you, Sue. Maybe you're a nice lady. Maybe you're a bitch. Given the above arrogance and superiority complexing, I'm leaning towards the latter. For now. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your writing is not quite up to the level of the masters I listed above - those self-published assholes like Twain. That's right, I'm going to make a blanket statement generalizing your work based upon one answer to a question in an interview. I would look into this more, but that would require research, and I have a book to finish - I started it yesterday...I want to have it up on Kindle by this afternoon.

Anytime you want to see what an indie writer can do, I'm easy to find. Sue, you're a wealthy lady. I'm not (wealthy or a lady), but I'll bet you $50 that, in ten minutes, I could write a better story than you. So, bring it. Ten minutes, two pens, and as much paper as you need. I'm ready when you are. Put your money where your mouth is, Sue. I'll be waiting, looking for shortcuts that lead to the cathedral of hypocrisy where I can badmouth an entire movement because, well, E is for ego.

PS - I know you apologized (of your own free will and with no encouragement from your publisher, I'm sure), so I'm sorry I called you a bitch. There. Friends again.



10 comments:

  1. Well, to be totally fair, she apologized for this remark, but only after a whole boatload of hate came her way.

    Get this, though. Grafton just came out with a new book. It is a memoir that she self-published many years ago. In the interview, she called it "privately published." H, apparently, is for Hypocrisy.

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    1. Yeah, I wasn't real impressed with the forced apology. That's classic. Privately published.

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  2. I wouldn't take that bet if I were her. You'd win.

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    1. Thanks, Yvonne. I don't make bets I can't win. ;)

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  3. My heart would burst with gold-gilded glitter and tart yellow sunbeams if only you and Sue Grafton could be in the same room for just 15 minutes. ;)) A wonderful blog post, my friend...or as you would say. "Bam."

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  4. Well we've all said things we regret. That is part of being a writer, after all. Imagine if every thing you said or wrote was published? How much crow would we all be eating. I would be eating a murder of them...which would mean I would be flocked. In a manor of speaking....

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    1. You punny bastard. Quit trying to be the voice of reason and let me continue my witch hunt! ;)

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  5. I regret nothing! Except that hit of acid I took before my summer economics final. That was a waste of a good tab.

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    1. LOL. I had a similar situation in a philosophy class.

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