♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Have you experienced or witnessed genre shaming, where
readers/authors degrade a genre? If so, how do you deal with it?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Personally, I don’t recall witnessing any active genre shaming while out and about in the world. I know that readers have their preferences, but I don’t hear them out-and-out shame another that doesn’t make the cut for them. For instance, I used to read romance in my teens and early twenties, but I have grown away from that in my tastes. It’s nothing to do with the genre being a dislike now. There simply are so many books that I want to read across genres. No shame.
That said–I have heard authors talk about the interactions they have had with other authors that left them feeling insulted. Not every author is built the same. A good number, as in any other career, have to still learn their manners. In the very least, they need to become more self-aware. That would help their writing, too!
Most people who would shame a genre have strong opinions about a good many topics. They don’t mind if it hits like a brick through a glass window, either. The art of conversation and interpersonal skills isn’t something that everyone masters, or even want to master (the want being key to the learning). I’ve reached that tender age where you stop making excuses for others and blaming things on ignorance, placing it firmly in the responsibility of the speaker/actor, etc. People make choices, and I’m not going to make up a background story on their behalf as to why they don’t understand how hurtful those choices (actions or words) are to others. Passively allowing abuse is in itself abusive.
But, regardless of intent, authors and readers alike can have strong opinions about the things that they like. They define their very personhood by these factors and any disruption can be viewed as an attack. Therefore, they come off gruff in response. Likely, expressing shame toward another genre has to do with their view of themselves. For instance, I write historical fiction. Other writers in my genre may feel that we’re highly intellectual people who have to do massive amounts of research and vetting of information. We then think that that makes us superior to other writers, despite the fact that other genres require a lot of the same efforts.
Romance, as I mentioned it above, is not easily written. Some readers or authors may feel that it is just smut/pornography, and it just takes being dirty to create it. The work that I’ve read in my past was also historical. It perceived and understood human interaction. The art of sex, besides, is not so easily described on the page, without falling into repetitive, and even eye-rolling, language. If the author doesn’t understand human sexuality, relationships, culture, history, gender nuance, and a gamut of other topics, they’re going to fail.
Just as in Romance, a lot of readers poo-poo fantasy and science fiction. It’s either too cerebral or too fantastical. Neither is the case. Although a great deal of research goes into either, it’s not solely focused on explaining the machinery that may appear in the work. You’ll not being getting a treatise on warp drives and how to build one. There won’t be a lengthy explanation of the anatomy of halflings, either. I’m not sure what is expected, but the push back here is often attached to a fear of not understanding the material, because it’s too high-brow or being unable to relate because it’s too childish.
Tolkien is not childish. Although Clarke wrote about Childhood’s End, there’s nothing inaccessible in the material. The former was a linguist and historian who used his knowledge to weave a fantasy world that also felt quite familiar, as if it were based in our Earth’s middle ages. The latter explores human mythological knowledge and the end of Earth, when the children have evolved beyond a physical realm. I bet they watched the mini-series, though.
For the most part, I have not witnessed genre shaming, except the aftermath in social media comments meant to clap back at poorly hatched ideas from fellow travelers. The shame I have witnessed is between publishing avenues. Traditionally published/or seeking authors think that indie authors have no business writing and aren’t up to par. The shame is there to maintain the strangle hold that gatekeepers have on publishing, instead of fostering the art form regardless of how the creative gets their work on paper. Like genre shame, it exposes a lack of knowledge about publishing or an egotistical willfulness.
My advice for authors is to not shame any genre and don’t shame the way other authors reach publication. It only reflects poorly on you. Support other authors and be encouraging. There is room enough for all of us and all of the genres are great. Readers are going to gravitate to what they like to read. Authors shouldn’t encourage them to feel a way about other genres, either, or express negativity. That, too, will reflect poorly on the author. We can’t control a reader and shouldn’t, but I don’t foster shame in my comments either (social media and otherwise).
Hop on over to see what the other authors have to say on the topic. I bet they have some great insight.