From OTF Wank on Journalfen:

Okay, so the salon article was what killed me really. Better Yet, Don't Write That Novel by Laura Miller <--This Is How to Miss the Point Dramatically, and With a Lot of Words, Perhaps More Words Than Necessary, Really. Learn Brevity, Thanks.

Pop quiz:

It was yet another depressing sign that the cultural spaces once dedicated to the selfless art of reading are being taken over by the narcissistic commerce of writing.

Does this mean:

a.) buy my books and tell me I'm smart!
b.) sales are falling.
c.) ...sorry, what cultural spaces doing what?

Trufax: I may or may not have been part of the movement that destroyed reading cultural spaces. I won't like, admit this, but, okay, there was this whole "compare and contrast the cultural relevance of American Psycho with Moby Dick" one night in the Cultural Reading Space Room because let's face it, in the end, it's all about Moby Fucking Dick, and why use a less hackneyed comparison? And who doesn't love curling up on a stormy evening with a blanket to re-read that bit of poetic mastery of graphic sexual violence performed with everyday props with prose of the exquisite blandness of non-steel cut oatmeal, unsurpassed even by de Sade, who it cannot be said did not have a hard-on for female torture and sexual mutilation (and how!). Okay, I was napping, but they got to the rat/ham-and-cheese (could be one or the other, I was napping in the Cultural Literary Osmosis Corner, maybe a sandwich was involved?) thing and oh, I was like, I'm so burning this cultural space.

Every nano story destroys another cultural space. I laugh as I watch them die. This is why there aren't any. Destroyed so well that even now, I'm not sure what they are.

(This may tie into my very early exposure to literary criticism which was when I read my first review of American Psycho that managed to be very positive and spoke of it being engaging and possibly pushing the boundaries but never mentioned anything actually contained in the novel itself. Let's say my first read of that ended very quickly and with surprisingly abruptness. I've kind of never forgiven the literary community or pretty much the entirety of anything published in New York for that. I will drag this experience out every chance I get. My God, why.)

In other news, received a phone call today to tell me my child is going to another country this summer and I'd missed my appointment to get the arrangements in order. The words "my child is what and where, wait, what?" were said, because I'm sure this is pretty obvious, but I had no idea. I'm going tomorrow to--get the arrangements in order. Child is bemused that I'd want to be aware he was exporting himself; I'm just trying to figure out what exactly will make July of next year a bad time for him to be in the country. There aren't any new holes, but there's a rope draped over the back fence that's tied to a really sketchy tree. Beyond the fence is a fairly steep drop to a dry creek. It looks obvious, and yet....

How's Turkey on extradition? Just curious.

If he had a passport right now, I'm fairly sure I wouldn't know about this until he got back. Extradited? Something.
aivilo_18: (Default)

2010-11-18 03:34 am (UTC)
Child is bemused that I'd want to be aware he was exporting himself

Just...tell me you have a list somewhere - I don't care how short it is - of things he *can't* do. Or tell me how to get on his side, because that's the side I want to be on when the world eventually explodes itself.
tygermama: it says "I like long and unusual words and anyone who does not share my tastes is not compelled to read me" (Quote - Long Words)

2010-11-18 03:47 am (UTC)
My favorite response to that article is John Scalzi's NaNoWriMo and Kvetching

this is my favorite part:
1. Dude, a program that encourages thousands of people annually to celebrate the act of creating words — of creating their own words — and you want to piss all over that? If you look to the right, I have some kittens you can set on fire while you’re at it.

I read the Salon article and I was boggling at it, wondering if the author intended the irony. Someone writing to bitch about other people writing is irony, isn't it?
akacat: A cute cat holding a computer mice by the cord. (Default)

2010-11-18 01:36 pm (UTC)
Someone writing to bitch about other people writing is irony, isn't it?

That was my first thought, as well.
pixel: (nano: writebitchwrite)

2010-11-18 04:57 am (UTC)
Yet another sign that long exposure to fandom has truly fucked with my brain, probably. Reading = selfless? wut? Except, I get it, now, later. Anyway.

I'm doing NaNo, my first, this year, and I'm writing RPS (and I giggled all the way to hell and back when the first pep-talk was Mercedes Lackey going 'hey WRITE SOME FANFIC, IT'S KINDA AWESOME!') I did not read the original Salon article as it came out right as I was trying to bolster my self esteem enough to clear even 3000 words on the thing. I may come back to it when I am done with NaNo.

Err, so, here I come and find out, I am killing cultural spaces, and probably stalking someone's children because I'm writing RPF, and I don't know, shaving someone's cat because it's slash.

Huh, well, ok then. 28,829 words of culture killing and counting.
stranger: Why no, that's not Gwen's dress on my floor, Silly Arthur (Gwen's Dress)

2010-11-19 03:47 am (UTC)
Good going on the word count!

I think it's only "taking over cultural spaces" if you do it in a bookstore or library. It's totally okay to write in a coffee shop or your own apartment, as writers at every time of the year have been using those spaces already. Perhaps it's less culturally appropriative if you have a dog, or a weird past with multiple day jobs.
stranger: 32-armed compass rose (compass windrose)

2010-11-19 05:28 am (UTC)
Coffee shops before the 1950s weren't limited to poetry, so any kind of sociopolitical commentary should be okay with the Rand-Neitzsche-Dryden-Voltaire crowd. And who's to say the average NaNo production doesn't have any sociopolitical elements? The whole thing is an exercise in self-expression, which is the first step in realizing politicosocial impulses, surely?

Also, the alternative is to write only at home amid children and domestic chores, which seems to have been the lot of the average 19th-century novelist. I'm not sure they actually liked it that way.
pixel: Dean with his hand to his forehead, "D'oh." (Supernatural) (supernatural: dean d'oh)

2010-11-19 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

Woops, was writing in my local library last week, I am going to have to restrain myself. Or bring my dog, except that'd be culturally disruptive, probably.

(I am into the dreaded 30,000s, PROCRASTINATE HARDER!)
sami: (Default)

2010-11-20 03:41 am (UTC)
It's more funny if you partially shave the cat.

I say this because one of our cats had to have a big patch of fur on his flank shaved by the vet so that an injury could be treated, and it turned out his fur was so thick, but also so slow-growing, that it took six months to grow out.

And it did not stop being funny, not least because the injury, once properly treated, healed in, like, two weeks, tops, and so it just looked like he was going bald in a very localised area.
out_there: B-Day Present '05 (Default)

2010-11-18 06:39 am (UTC)
a.) buy my books and tell me I'm smart!

I read it as that one. I hate this priveledged idea that only Professional Writers can write and letting everyone have a go would somehow Sully The Art Of Writing. We're supposed to be fans, to read and to buy, but not ever consider doing any of this ourselves because they're oh so much smarter/more imaginative/more awesome than us.

Phooey. (If I believed that was true, I'd... read and buy books, rather than loving the hell out of fic after fic.)
pixel: Tony and soilder, "Fanboy" (Iron Man) (ironman: tony fanboy)

2010-11-19 03:03 pm (UTC)
THIS.
dreamatdrew: (Ragabash)

2010-11-18 09:23 am (UTC)
Re: Laura Miller
I think thefourthvine said it best when she said:
"...doing it for love is wrong, but doing it for money is right. This makes me make a frowny face, because that isn't what they said in Sex Ed."
Re: child
Don't we have an export ban on weapons of mass distruction? Cuz I'm sure we could get him qualified as such.
sami: (Default)

2010-11-20 03:36 am (UTC)
Just so you know, this is my favourite post in the history of ever.

On so many levels.
ext_2686: (Default)

2010-11-18 03:01 am (UTC)
In what way, shape or universe is reading a 'selfless art'? It may be telling of how I've missed the point of that... whatever... that this is what stuck out for me, but I'm going with it.

2010-11-18 03:08 am (UTC)
There's really nothing about the sentence that's--well, I think she thinks people read because of gratitude toward the narcissists for being narcissistic.

It's deep, you see.
ext_2686: (Default)

2010-11-18 03:10 am (UTC)
I guess the people who read my fanfic appreciate that I'm narcissistic enough to keep posting it. But really. Really. Nobody is doing anybody else a public service, here.

On the other hand, if this bitch can get a book deal then I feel better about my chances.

2010-11-18 03:23 am (UTC)
*grins* I like to think on the bright side!
jaymalea: (Default)

2010-11-18 02:15 pm (UTC)
Um... the first thing that struck me was that without the "writing" there would be no "reading". So, wtf?

2010-11-18 03:10 am (UTC)
Wow...that 'article' made no sense what so ever.

Also, her comparison of people doing a challenge of reading 10 books in 10 months is...underwhelming to say the least (though, still good for the people who are doing the challenge, but couldn't she have talked about the people who are reading 50 (or 100) books in a year challenges, which might seem more on par with writing 50k in a month?).

2010-11-18 03:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, ten books in ten months doesn't seem very challenging. I kept wondering if it's because fandom self-selects for a lot of readers.

2010-11-18 07:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, if you say 10 books A month, that'd still mean that one book has to last three whole days, but that'd be more realistic.
(Most of my reading ends up being on the internet these days, but as I don't think the wordcount has actually decreased (except for when I'm mainlining tv) I can still say that ONLY 10 books in TEN WHOLE MONTH sounds like toture. I mean we packed books into the spare wheel (in the bottom of the trunk) on trips and that one holiday in Mexico where we had to fly was just WRONG because I totally ran out of books.)
fyrdrakken: (Sherlock - Don't fuck with the sociopath)

2010-11-18 08:03 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, a sizeable factor in my undying love for my Blackberry is downloading the free Kindle app and upwards of a hundred classic books that aged out of their copyrights and are being offered by Amazon as free downloads to suck people down the Kindle rabbit hole. An entire library IN MY POCKET! No more packing a dozen paper books for a two-week trip and weighing down my luggage! No more running out of reading material during a long wait because I only had one book in my bag and it turned out to take way longer for my car to be worked on than I was told it would!
fyrdrakken: (Giles - books)

2010-11-18 07:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, fandom being self-selecting and the other thing where the vast majority of the books in the US being bought by only a few tens or hundreds of thousands of readers. The thing where the HP books and then the Twilight series got booksellers and teachers all excited about kids reading -- except for the huge numbers of kids who read just that series for fun and weren't at all interested in going on to check out anything even vaguely similar. We're in the book-buying subset of the population -- but we're surrounded by thousands and thousands who can't see the point of cracking a book once you're no longer in school being forced to do so. (Christ, my mother used to be a big reader, and I'm trying to remember the last time she actually read anything at all -- the HP books, and maybe one or two of my Discworld books, and she might have gotten something by Stephen King in the last decade or so, but. She spends her time in front of the TV or on the computer and I lend her a book and it just lies on the end table for a month until she moves it out of the way.)

ten books

2010-11-19 02:11 am (UTC)
I clicked the link and it's actually ten books from each of ten catagories - one hundred books in all. And you get to make up your own catagories. That sounds like fun. I started keeping track a couple of years ago and read around a hundred a year - but reading outside my comfort zone, large though I think it is, would probably slow me down.

2010-11-19 06:58 am (UTC)
There was a time when I would do that within the space of a week. Actually, more like three days. :)

I can still do that, provided the series is interesting enough. And I have days off. There are reasons I switched to ebooks! A bibliovore's godsend, I tell ya.

2010-11-19 11:19 am (UTC)
Yeah. I remember high school, one year my history teacher asked how many people thought they would read at least ONE book over the summer. It was less than half the class. D:

(And I was the only one planning to read more than four books.)

2010-11-18 03:57 am (UTC)
Knowing the information you pass on about Child? I would start thinking about what things he could get ahold of in this country than be thinking on what he's trying to escape.

I mean, could he have easer access to cloning technology? Dinosaur DNA? Hole making tech?

Worry if he starts asking about smuggling thing in. *nodsnods*

2010-11-18 03:59 am (UTC)
Am laughing my ass off about your kid and going to another country - without letting you know. Ha! How was he supposed to get there? And he doesn't have a passport? Oh, so classic! I want to know why they thought he had your permission. Kids, gotta love them.

2010-11-18 04:10 am (UTC)
Just listening to people talk about Deconstruction back in the day was almost enough to put me off literary theorizing forever and ever, Tha End. It was like the vivisecting of dullness. I just wanted to read and think about shit at face value. I enjoy the gorgeousness of how some people use language, the way that they create flow and make plot and dialog and imagery bend to their will so all the pieces work together. I'm easy, I guess.

2010-11-18 04:13 am (UTC)
Turkey is awesome. And yes, we have an extradition treaty with them :D

Crazy lady is crazy. How'd she get a book deal again?

(Anonymous)
2010-11-18 04:31 am (UTC)
To be fair, she does state very clearly that she herself does not write novels. Apparently she only writes articles and essays?

"As someone who doesn't write novels" which is pretty unambiguous, especially added to her bio:
[...] "is a senior writer at Salon.com, which she co-founded in 1995. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, where she wrote the Last Word column for two years. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She is the author of "The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia" (Little, Brown, 2008) and the editor of "The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors" (Penguin, 2000)."

This lists only two books, none of them novels (the first one sounds like an expended essay, the second one like a reading rec list).

Don't get me wrong: as a reader-only, I couldn't disagree with her more because I personally can't find enough published fiction to my taste and never have.

Let's face it, published fiction -a la 'Twilight'- is just not what I am looking for, sorry for not being a maladjusted teenage girl with a fixation on death. Nor am I a Da Vinci Code fanatic who will read Dan Brown unedited trash even though the man is incapable of writing a grammatically correct sentence in his own native language.

And "Oh, I don't have time to read. I'm just concentrating on my writing." is not something I have ever heard from any real writer, published or not. Though if you told me that was Stephenie Meyer's honest reply, or Dan Brown, I would totally believe you.

Real writers seem to read ten, twenty times as much as non-writers: it's easy to notice this in their writing: just by the quotes, the references to literary classics, movies or whatnot. Well, at least in the stories I read, not in the above-mentioned trash.

Consider for instance JK Rowling: you must have heard if the idea that her basic premise comes from a Neil Gaiman concept (specifically from the Books of Magic which predates her books by a couple of years I think? The young British boy with black hair and glasses who eventually becomes the greatest magician of the age, the owl/familiar, the whole background thing about his parents/real mother etc.)

But whether it's just general, unavoidable inspiration -as Neil Gaiman graciously insists- or plagiarism -my own take on this, because I am a petty, petty person- does not matter: the point is that she clearly read the Books of Magic, even if she did not remember it clearly enough to recognized what her stuff owed Neil Gaiman. Or she read the same materials the Books of Magic draw its inspiration from, whatever...

There is a famous saying about how all works of art are either groundbreaking or plagiarism. Which sounds about right to me, eg: Avatar 2009/Dances with Wolves 1990/a Man Named Horse 1970 though I guess one could make a point that the technical achievement of Avatar trumps the fact that the story itself is re-recycled stuff.

2010-11-18 05:15 am (UTC)
I once blew up 5/6 of a reading cultural space and everyone was mean to me afterwards! For months! With lemons!

possibly I began cutting myself as a result, but no one noticed until I fainted in the mess hall
ext_127: (daniel and rodney)

2010-11-18 10:30 am (UTC)
How's the weather in China this time of year?

2010-11-18 06:51 pm (UTC)
Oh please, if Rodney McKay blew up a reading cultural space I think he'd expect a medal for it. Liberal arts--worse than the soft sciences! Populated by English majors!! (which I will admit to first hearing as English Major, and wondering why he hated the British military)

2010-11-18 01:21 pm (UTC)
Because I am an optimistic sort, I choose to believe this article is somewhat tongue in cheek and was aimed at a target audience of non-writers who would enjoy some verbal back patting at the expense of other people. It's rather petty and spiteful none the less.

The only novelist I have heard of who says she doesn't read many novels is Karen Traviss, who seems to get her inspiration more from films and television (and is an ex journalist herself). She seems to think of this as unusual though and even sounded a little defensive about it, if I'm remembering her blog post right.

Your reaction to Moby Dick made me cackle: I recognise it, being someone from the UK who doesn't really like Dickens. I am happily free of recieved opinions about Moby Dick and intend to read it sometime purely out of curiosity, but will bear the oatmeal comment in mind.

2010-11-19 07:03 am (UTC)
Moby Dick is a slog of a read but it's interesting to see where it pops up.

2010-11-18 02:37 pm (UTC)
I have no real comment on the glorified "I hate NaNoWriMo" whine, but I will say this and share a visceral sort of horror in solidarity: My dad's favorite book, completely unironically, is MOBY DICK.

2010-11-21 01:11 am (UTC)
If cultural spaces = places for worshipping the egos of "appropriate" writers... BURN CULTURAL SPACES BURN! Hahahahah!

And much as I'd love to give myself some kind of medal for unselfishness for reading stuff, (I'd have so many medals) given that my motivation is generally the selfish pursuit of reading pleasure, I'm not sure what she's on about. As far as I'm concerned, the time writers spend writing cool things for me to read is a gift.

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