Every now and then, I decide that it really is time to vent my spleen a little. Mostly, I try not to, but every now and then, I do. Mostly, I think it does me more good than anyone else, but that’s fine. The internet just makes it slightly more elegant than writing myself a cardboard sign and standing in the subway station, shouting at people walking by.
Fortunately, I can keep this short, because as luck would have it, I read an article by someone far wiser and more articulate than I am, and I can present it to you. Via the wonderful Salon.com, here’s an article on Lists, Snobbishness, and prejudices.
Go read. I’m going to have a cup of tea until you get back.
Back? Read it? Read both pages? Good.
Mostly what I have to add is how very much I agree with that article. Snobbery on any level makes me very, very uncomfortable. It mentally unbalances me. There was a guy who used to stop in — and then loiter — in the used bookstore I worked in. He would toss off quotes from Saki and Chaucer and all dem high-falutin’ books — always done in the tone of voice to indicate that if I had not read them, poor fellow me, I should see to it immediately good chap. And I could smile and tolerate that okay, because that just made him a twit. Plus, I had a sneaking suspicion that I had read a great deal more Saki, Chaucer, Cervantes, and anyone else you cared to name than he had. I never said it, because fear of snobbery leaves me also deeply uncomfortable of bragging (and, on some level, afraid of accomplishment, but that’s another matter).
What bothered me, though, was that he would sneer at the customers coming in. He would spend ten minutes in long and winding sentences denouncing that poor woman who, by buying a Nora Roberts book, had clearly indicated herself to be a white trash illiterate. Nora Roberts? Poo poo. Nicholas Sparks? Heavens, no. Stephen King? Oh my, his older stuff, so brash and uncouth, but he’s quite literary now, a wonderful up-and-coming in the world.
Eventually we had it out. I didn’t scream, but I didn’t stay silent and I stopped taking it. My argument was, who cares, damn it? If a woman buys Nora Roberts, then the only thing that says about her is she likes Nora Roberts. And while I, personally, don’t enjoy Nora Roberts, that’s just a matter of taste (differences in, not lack thereof). I don’t like Nicholas Sparks either. I like Stephen King, when he makes me flinch and when he makes me feel.
And the big thing…at least they’re reading.
So snobs really bother me. Any snob you care to name. It bugs me. There’s a huge world of music out there, some of which I don’t like. I don’t like most rap, I don’t like country. But that’s just me.
Why I don’t keep company with very many writers anymore, aside from being Creepy Hermit Guy, is that on some level, so many wannabe writers are snobs about something. Outlines? Poo poo. Romance? Good gracious, no. Self-publishing? Only for the unwashed, good fellow.
My theory is…it’s all up for grabs. All the music and reading and movies and ideas and business theories and everything else is pretty much all up for grabs, and I think that’s terrific. Frankie says relax. Have fun.
So, my confessions:
– I think that In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner is just one of the best books ever.
– I really like Will Smith, as an actor yes, but also as a rapper.
– I think self-publishing is only a bad idea if you can’t think of a way to make it work for you.
– I am watching Gilmore Girls with my wife. It was her idea…but I am watching voraciously. We are nearly done with Season 3 (which we started LAST monday) and will immediately start season 4.
There. Does that make me less? I don’t think so. I think a range of experiences and interests and things you’re willing to try are far, far better than a knowledge and proficiency at just a couple of things.
(I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to share your cheap and tawdry secrets in the commentary, after this post. Come on. I will hardly laugh.)