In Defence of Popular Fiction (Or Why I Hate Intellectual Snobbery)

Intellectual snobbery pisses me off. I’ve been thinking about it lately – specifically, the literature police and their blanket disapproval of popular fiction. Runaway successes like 50 Shades of Grey, The Da Vinci Code, The Hunger Games and Twilight, in particular, attract some of the ferocious critics around.

(You’ll notice I haven’t included the Harry Potter series. This is because, by and large, readers and critics hold the series in high esteem. Harry Potter is unusual in that it occupies the curious middle ground where integrity and commercial success coexist.)

I’m not here to defend the literary merits of any from the above list – I’ve only read the first Twilight and Hunger Games books and did not care for either. I am, however, here to defend both their right to exist and the ‘cretins’’ right to enjoy them. Even if these books are fundamentally flawed, people have still found enjoyment in them, have connected and shared spirited discussion over them. To me, that’s a wonderful thing. You might argue that these readers’ time would be better spent with X Author or Underground Classic Y, but that’s not how things have panned out. Popular success is popular success. There’s no formula.

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Writers vs Literary Journals: a Lesson in Respect and Etiquette

As David Attenborough once said (in a dream I’m pretending to have had), ‘A curious relationship exists between the writer and the staff of a literary journal.’

Today I wanted to talk about the different ways writers and literary journal staff regard each other. A couple of days ago, my buddies at [untitled] wrote a blog that really resonated with me. The blog touched on some of the hidden etiquettes to consider when submitting fiction. If you’re someone who actively submits, or you’re thinking about submitting in the near future, I’d strongly advise that you check out this post.

(Fun, vaguely related fact: Not only do [untitled] publish short fiction of any genre, they also have an outrageously accommodating word limit. If you happen to write short fiction of any genre, make sure you check out their submission guidelines.)

I’ll assume you’ve had a gander at the link. Hopefully most will consider it common sense, but to those who haven’t sent their work out before, or to those who are just innately assholish to everyone they cross, it would pay to keep the suggestion of courtesy at the forefront of your minds.

I read a lot of writing articles (forget Spider Solitaire; this is procrastination, 2013 style), but what I particularly liked about this [untitled] one is that it sheds light on The Other Side. Publishers, that is – not the afterlife. I like that the insights come from someone who’s played both roles: the benevolent gatekeeper and the impoverished artist banging futilely against the iron gate. I also like that it reveals something about the people and processes who exist behind the label of Literary Journal. Continue reading