Dear Anonymous Professors in Creative Writing,
I know perfectly well that you don't read my blog, and technically speaking, I'm not just writing this to you. I'm writing this to all other people who exercise the same attitude toward 'genre fiction' as you do and toward mainstream fair in general. It has come to my attention that you don't think very highly of popular fiction. This is of course, all a matter of opinion. There are a number of popular books that I do not enjoy and I would never tell a person what they should and should not like. But then again... neither should you.
Each year you welcome new, hopeful writers, dreaming one day of a publishing career. Some of these writers are inexperienced. Many of them have been reading the likes of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and various Stephen King novels for their whole lives and they treasure the worlds their favorite authors have created. They hope to someday write stories as amazing as the ones that touched their hearts as children.
Except for you don't want them to write 'genre fiction'. Genre fiction is beneath real writing. The only real writing is high brow literary fiction. And not just any literary fiction. Cynical, hard to understand literary fiction that puts up a wall of pretense so high, climbing its slippery side would be like scaling the Wall of Westeros with only one ice pick. But you wouldn't get that reference, would you? Because 'you don't read sword and sorcery fantasy'. Because its all just dribble.
You don't seem to understand the effort that goes into creating a world different from our own, do you? We can't rely on what already exists, we must create from scratch. We take from the real world but we must twist it into a different shape. Biology, politics, religion, history, economics: we must create systems for all of those things. But no... Fantasy is genre fiction. Its EASY fiction.
Your preferred fiction is hard to surmount and the ordeal of reading it is empty and hopeless. And at the end of reading this cynical, high brow, extremely-deep-and-complex writing, I can use one word to describe it: soulless.
Shall I tell you why I read?
I read to feel something. To escape my world and fall in love with another. I read to see new perspectives and meet new people. I read to laugh and to cry and to be filled with such emotion that I chuck my book across the room, restraining a scream so that my friends don't think I am being murdered.
I read to feel.
Shall I tell you why I write?
I write to explore. To create a point of view that perhaps others will be interested in. I write to create a world that I control and I can love. I write to connect with other people.
I write to make them feel.
I don't want to make readers 'work hard' to understand what I'm saying. My writing should not be a homework assignment they loathe to read. I want it to be something they simply cannot put down and risk detention in math class as they read the book under their desk, hungry for more words with every page turn. That is why I write.
Why do you write? To be honest, I don't know. I guess you liked it at one point. But now its about money, isn't it? Its about churning one soulless short story after another. And yeah, the writing may be good. And maybe if I spend an hour reading it I will grasp your deep message. But it will never make me feel.
Harry Potter might be for children but I will keep my copies for my whole life and read them to my children. My copy of Inkheart is falling apart but when the pages fall from the binding, I will get a NEW copy because I adore that book so much. And hey, I may not like Twilight, but at least millions of people do. At least millions of people around the world feel hope when they read those books. And that is more than your fiction gives me.
I write genre fiction. I write emotional fiction. I write because I see hope in the world as much as I do despair. I write to balance those things and help people make sense of this crazy world.
So I will keep writing genre fiction. And I will love what I do. And in the end, you will simply be a bump in the road saying 'not good enough'.
With the highest respect,