Most of you have probably already heard about the Nobel Laureate in Literature who felt it necessary to put down all women–past and present–who are writers by claiming he writes better than all of them combined. Since authors have been known to behave badly to gain publicity in order to bump up book sales, I decided I wouldn’t mention his name here, and I debated whether to even provide a link, but here’s a link to the interview if you must read more.
To be honest, I found the arrogance of this writer rather amusing. Why? Because when I studied physics for my undergraduate degree, I noticed how the physics and engineering professors sneered at the English professors. In their eyes, a Nobel Prize in Physics was to a Nobel Prize in Literature like college was to kindergarten. Yup, those physicists were that snobby.
So poor Mr. Nobel Laureate in Literature, who thinks he’s better than all the women writers who ever existed or exist, will find himself put down in certain physics and chemistry circles as not having a “real” Nobel Prize.
It all comes down to human nature. Certain people have an innate need to put down others in order to feel better about themselves. I’m sure you’ve noticed the pecking order games that go on in any field by those that feel insecure. The male writer who puts down women writers in an interview. The literary writer who puts down the science fiction genre in an essay. The fantasy writer who puts down literary writing at a convention.
And have you ever noticed how insecure writers in various genres will all put down romance and erotica writers?
No matter your speciality of writing, gender, religion, politics, sexual orientation, race, age, etc. etc. etc., sooner or later you will be put down as a writer. Someone is going to try to hurt you and is going to say anything, no matter how crazy, to do so.
Even a male heterosexual Protestant Caucasian who writes literary fiction is going to get put down. The frequency may be less, and he may get more respect from the standard-bearers in his society, but he will get trashed by various people. I guarantee it.
However, if you don’t fit the norm in your society for who a “true” writer is supposed to be, you’ll have to deal with more put downs than other writers.
A new writer (female) once asked me why she should even try to keep writing and become published since she would always be looked down upon by certain male writers and male English professors. She felt her work would never be treated as seriously as it would have been if she were male.
I told her that it was worth doing the writing anyway, for a couple of reasons: 1) if she gave up writing, she’d be doing exactly what those scared sexist jackasses wanted her to do–quit, 2) she would only learn what she was capable of as a writer if she gave it her all, 3) there are readers that will give her respect and money in this era despite discrimination, and 4) we can hope that future generations will judge her work on its merits, not her gender. For her to give up would be to kill that future off before it had a chance to happen.
So no matter who you are as a writer, I hope that you will continue writing no matter how many put downs you may encounter. Some of you will get sneered at more than others. But may you all have the courage to continue onwards no matter what.