Friday, October 1, 2010

Writers are so lame

I work for an arts organization that throws public dollars at writers incapable of supporting their work on their own merits, but whom the literary establishment considers worthy of sustenance. Every now and again I come across a project proposal that sounds cool and so I, enthused, leap to the author's website.

This has taught me that, nearly without exception, literary writers are buttheads. The website of such authors usually includes:

• moody headshot;
• grim and frostbitten biography;
• philosophical underpinnings of their literary decrepitude;
• crosscultural ephemera.

I've found a few authors who obviously possess an unpretentious spirit and whose websites are consequently non-stupid... I'd point you to them, because they deserve recognition if for nothing other than being undouchebags, but I think technically that would be a breach of the Access to Information and Privacy Act to which I am an ideological vassal.

Funny thing, though, is speculative fiction authors are just as bad--perhaps worse. Science fiction and its subgenres, especially--a genre demanding of its proponents innovation and critical thinking--are particularly heinous when it comes to such absurdist self-replication. Genre writers: they've seen it all. Except you haven't seen what they've seen. Not until you've bought their new book.

If I am ever a Famous Writer, my one goal is going to be to possess the adjective-state of non-jackassery. I think the act of merely not being a pretentious dork would gain me fans the world over.

Of course, I'm slightly worried that this disease of the attitude is something that occurs entirely without effort. I am entirely worried I am already possessing of the adjective state of non-non-jackassery.

Weigh in, readers! Am I pretentious? Are... you?

-bn

9 comments:

  1. I will say that those headshots are actually a conundrum. It's difficult to make anyone look good in 10,000 pixels. Most writers -- and I do not exclude myself -- would have a hard time looking good even with far more pixels than that. A grim and moody headshot is one way to try to fight back against a lack of pleasing aspect.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hahaha. Rahul, the only headshot I've seen of you involved a mighty moustache. I'm just saying: some pictures are better than others. One hint which is better: it's got moustaches.

    -bn

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, having a Dali-esque moustache is another way of going. Many SF authors use antiquated and/or improbable hats, which I am not sure that I like...it's very, like, "Oh, I put on a hat for this picture."

    If someone is going to go that way, then it should be possible to do something far more ridiculous for his picture than put on a bowler hat.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will one day sell a book that has a little picture of me on each page pointing at the page number. I think that it would sell like hotcakes, insofar as when was the last time you bought a hotcake?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think what I got tired of -- and continue to be tired of -- is the endless hand-wringing about personal pain. Now, lest anyone accuse me of being cold to the suffering of my fellow human beings, I am hip (on the one hand) to the idea that everybody's got hurts and bruises. In fact, some people seem to be made up of nothing but hurts and bruises. But then (on the other hand) I get tired of reading long, angry rants from people about how the world kicks sand in their face and isn't nice to them for (insert reason "ism" here.) It's a tricky balancing act, writing about that stuff without tipping over into outright whining. Alas, very, very few writers can pull it off. Those who do pull it off, can do great things. Those who don't... just sound like huge self-absorbed whiners.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Haha, Brad, excellent points. I suppose it might be better to expunge the demons of personal pain by writing fiction, rather than putting it into a biography or a blog, heh. I've definitely noticed that the writers I like most are usually pretty normal folks, and I dig on that; but certain types of writers, especially the literary kind, seem to need to prove either their angst or (what I see just as much of) their bohemian nature by listing their personal exploits or subjections.

    I say, Nuts to Bohemia! It's not been a country for centuries. I'm Canadian, personally, and if Russia invades across the swift-melting Arctic pole, my nationality changes--but not the man I am.

    -bn

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dude, I went to college in Pseudo-Bohemia. And I'm not sure most of the people who consider themselves "Bohemian" could even point to where it *used to be* on the map (being in love with history is a curse, sometimes, I tell you. It means you can't take it with a grain of salt when a career advisor asks you if you want to become an archeologist or a Mesopotamian, or when people who have no idea where bohemia is say they're perusing a Bohemian lifestyle.)

    Does obscuring my face with a giant pink flower count as an overly moody/artsy attempt at a profile pic?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, it kind of looks like maybe you're trying to get high, which has valid literary merit; or perhaps that you're a spy, staring at the onlooker from across a crowded ballroom in Prague. Either way, I offer nothing but praise.

    I guess my general beef is that I like photos that tell you something about the artist other than: "I am moody and creative."

    -bn

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lol, thanks.

    I guess what you actually end up with when every one tries to look moody and creative is a crowd of angsty un-originals.

    ReplyDelete