Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A rant against "real writers"

If I Had Something to Say
Originally uploaded by re_birf.
OK, I'll admit I'm feeling like shit and in a terrible mood. Maybe it's the fact that my doc gave me some Provigil to try to work on my sluggishness, and after a few days I realized it wasn't the answer, so today I only took a quarter tablet instead of a half. It says right on the darn circular that the stuff can be habit forming, and it's a contolled substance--which spells trouble for an addictive personality like me. But I'm just gonna wean my way off this and nip it right in the bud. A stimulant for a bipolar? Methinks that's a mighty bad idea.

Anyway, my rant du jour concerns a certain sub-group of writer--namely, the novelist in search of a publisher, or one who has self-published and is not hitting the best seller list as of yet (lol). I'd encountered a number of these folks on the Yahoo writers' groups that I've long ago quit, and I'm starting to see even more insufferable examples over at Blogcritics, where I now write in addition to my Shithouse rants.

Although I could be an asshole of another sort over at the writer's "rooms" myself, I like to think that my motives were a little more pure and charitable than some of the snobs I'm encountering over at BC through their articles. Here, in essence, is a prototype:

A writer has slaved over a novel. It may be good, it may be bad, but in any case, I'd venture a guess that in many cases, it's just not all that remarkable, but that's pure conjecture. Sometimes you can tell by the title and description that even if the writer is brilliant, the subject matter is just too arcane to attract a whit of interest for the average reader.

OK, so they've written the darn thing. Some have not even tested the waters by sending out, say, a short story, or even (gasp) an op ed or other piece of nonfiction to see if that is up to snuff in the eyes of an Almighty Editor. They may or may not have entered the arduous fray that is an inevitable step in getting virtually anything published, period, and thus have not steeled themselves for the almost inevitable rejection letters and consequent humility that greet the newbie.

Writers tend to be in love with their own prose. It is therefore sometimes quite a shock to them to realize (though some never do) that no one has asked them to write, and they do so and submit their work at their own risk.

The type of writer I am thinking of is an embittered snob. They bemoan the fact that the internet allows "regular folk" to blog about everyday things which don't seem transcendent enough to them, but which may garner more feedback from readers than their own sometimes self- indulgent tomes. Then they turn around and imply that agents and publishers who don't acknowlege their brilliance are too snobby or commercially oriented to recognize their unparalleled talents.

Some of these people are even so elitist that when people compliment their work they consider it beneath them to write a simple thank you in a return comment. They expect instant adoration, but don't seem to understand the concept of karma--viz: you often get what you give. On Blogcritics, they sometimes even bite the hand that feeds them with snide remarks about how other BC pieces of what they consider lesser value in tenor or subject matter are unfairly sharing an audience with "real writers" such as themselves.

I have tried to maintain an upbeat and supportive attitude toward my fellow Blogcritics. If I like an article, I will say so, and try to leave an intelligent comment that adds something to the "blogersation." When I write a post, I respond to all comments if I can. This is not only something that I love to do, but it also serves me well since posts with the most comments in the past 72 hours get on the "hot topics" board, thus increasing their potential readership and keeping their post in the spotlight longer. Again, karma at work. Those who refuse to respond to comments often fail to get the recognition they seem to crave by not doing the same.

In any case, just as an example, I'm providing a link to a BC post which finally led me to be a bit of a bitch. My comment to the author is there. He happens to be a very good and prolific writer, and I and others have often shown support and delight in his writing abilities. But he is also one of those aspiring novelists who is, in my opinion, an insufferable snob.

I may very well air my views in a post on BC as well--but maybe I'm better off just venting here. Have to watch my own karma, after all.

And here it is--one of the posts which set me off on my little hissy fit:

Writing and blogging: not necessarily the same thing

Hope some of you guys will check it out--it's not a long one--and let me know what you think.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Here's the deal.
I went and read the article.
I got nadgry and wrote down a comment.
Then I saw all the swear words so I lighted it up and took them all out.
There was nothing left to publish.

Personally I don't concider myself a writer, because I don't write books or articles and such.
But if we were to sit and think about it, what's writing if not an action put on a medium for one person to put down a thought,or a memory to either remember or share with someone else.

There is a level of writer I think and a blogger is a writer.
Blogging has been around for centuries.
For as long as there's been a writing instrament, people have been recording events.
How many diaries have become best sellers and movies.
Blogging is just another form of writing a diary.

If someone writes something and then someone else reads it.
Then that person is a successful writer and If someone leaves a comment.
Then he is a paid writer.
Money pays the bills but comments lift the soul.
And when you answer your comments, you're saying
thank you "UR" somebody too.

So you know what I said in the first part of my comment.
I take that back.
I am a blogger and a writer.

Go give em hell Elvira.

p.s. I linked you on my latest post

At 3:55 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Bless you, my friend. You are indeed a writer--and a damn good one at that.

I'm so glad you can see where I'm coming from. I thought I would have calmed down by now, since it's probably been at least six hours or more since I posted this rant, and I've slept (or napped) on it a bit as well. But my anger continues as I think of more and more examples and arguments against the snobbery and even cowardice I see with a few "writers" who, in my humble opinion, have not paid the dues or achieved the success that might entitle them to judge who is a true "artist" and who is not.

I'll probably post more on this later, but suffice it to say that for once the writer in question did respond to my comment, though he didn't seem to "get it" at all. I might add that as far as I can see, this is the only comment of mine he has ever responded to. Why? Because all the other ones I posted on some of his other pieces were positive, and he, along with some other comment snobs, seem to think it's better to just reward those who are nasty and ignore or "punish" those who are nice.

I can't wait til he takes his "novel" that, thanks to NaNoWriMo, he completed in a month, and sees what kind of reactions or non-reactions he gets from editors, agents, and publishers, since he's declared that his usual practice at BC (at least of late) is to "post and ignore." I really love folks who, after writing a novel in 30 days (something I think only Stephen King might be able to carry off successfully) consider themselves experts, judge and jury on the art of writing and publishing.

(NaNoWriMo is, from what I understand, an internet based project where aspiring novelists try to complete a novel of x number of words in a month's time. If they do, they are declared a "winner.")

I saw your post and I'm seriously considering taking you up on your challenge to quit smoking along with you. I have been indulging in a number of horrible habits over the past year especially, and I think it's time I took care of business in more ways than one.

Thank you again for your supportive comment.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Walker said...

Ok I couldn't contain myself I had to leave a comment.

At 6:15 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:18 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

Well, I did read the article (which I thought was "middling" at best) and the comments. And I'm bound to say that I found myself drawn to Lillian, and smiling to myself until such time as she saw fit to renounce her beautifully articulated views and toe the party line. Why, Lillian, why?

The issue about responding to comments is, I guess, a personal one. I know from my own experience that I'm happy for a throw-away one liner to be ignored, but if I take obvious time and trouble to post a comment that is intended to represent a meaningful and considered response to a post, I get peeved if it doesn't receive - at the least - a simple acknowledgement. And there are blogs on which I'll no longer comment as a consequence of that scenario being repeated too many times for it to remain acceptable.

As for what makes one a writer, I only have a layman's view. If I write, I'm a writer, in the same way that if I take photographs I'm a photographer. Everything that follows is subjective, and technical assessment is only one element of critique that may or may not have some bearing. It depends on whether I care, in the same way that a tree falling in the forest needs to be heard.

I have the distinct feeling that I've rambled inexcusably, but I shall leave it as is and hope that the essence of what I was trying to say is at least vaguely recognisable. And sorry for the deleted comment above - the typos were causing me a degree of mental anguish and this seemed like the best solution!

At 7:53 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thank you thank you thank you for posting that comment! You'll be happy to know that the flurry of comments (and I thiink yours was the one that brought it over the top) have brought the author's January post back onto the hot topics board. Oh, the irony!

At 7:56 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


You have certainly not rambled--I love comments, the longer the better, and yours was a great one to boot.

I managed to contain my anger and just wrote a rather measured additional comment to the author's post. Would be awesome if you and anyone else who cares to would weigh in there as well, but anyway, thanks so much!

At 8:32 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

Well, I pitched in too. Now I'm going to have a coffee and a cigarette.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I'm so glad you did--it was a beautiful thing to behold!

At 3:55 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Well, all I can hope now is that the author of the article I linked to in this piece does not see this diatribe--lol. He wrote me a very nice private e-mail, and now we're writing back and forth quite amiably. I now better understand why he was not responding to comments--in part because he'd been getting some pretty nasty ones on some of his posts and couldn't even face opening his e-mail sometimes to read them. So that's that--funny how things work out...

At 9:20 AM, Blogger WDKY said...

Actually, Elvira, I was just reading his Coffee Shop piece, and he has a point!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


He really got decimated on some of the comments there, but yes, I see the irony. What I think to myself when I see nasty anonymous comments like those are: hey buddy, where's your URL/blog/book/post/article? I believe in karma, and I think people who make it a point to flame websites are pretty pathetic, and usually don't have anything else to offer. Thus they do this out of gratuitious maliciousness or outright jealousy.

It is possible to give constructive feedback, but this one "published writer" was full of it because he didn't have the guts to post a link or his real name, so anything he had to say has to be taken with a grain of salt. If he has indeed published a book, he obviously wasn't up to dealing with any negative comments that might come his way.

One other thing i wanted to add is that for some reason giving and being able to accept praise seems to be difficult for some to do. I've heard people say that to leave a positive "nice post" comment seems dorky or stuck up to them, and I've also heard people say that to respond with a thank you to a positive comment seems like they're being egotistical. All I know is I'm old enough to have been taught that "please" and "thank you" are magic words that can open many doors and lead to good karma all around. I guess it's someone of a lost art nowadays...sigh...

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Thanks for the interesting post. I think Gypsy Man should have said journalist instead of writer. Of course, bloggers are writers but not all are reporters.

At 11:28 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Though g-man does a wide variety (and staggering number) of pieces--including reviews, musings on the writing life, and I daresay politics/current events up at BC--he has also written a novel and does aspire to have it published. His other piece about Coffee Shop Poseurs that wdky mentioned was more a work of fiction.

I do not have the desire, ability, or courage (lol) to try to take on the fiction market in any way, shape or form, but I don't think all nonfiction is journalism, of course. Nonfiction can be, at least to my mind, as creative and original as fiction, and nowadays I prefer to read it because I think that the truth is stranger than etc.

I think gypsyman's theory--which I don't really agree with--is that the internet is making the literary marketplace more overcrowded than it already is. On the contrary, I think that the internet may signal a new way for good writers to get exposure in addition to the very tough traditional print publication route.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger dan said...

Writers are anyone who can string words together into any sort of coherent meaning.

Good writers are people whose strings of words actually say something that connects with someone other than themselves.

'Nuff said.

At 4:26 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


That's a great definition if I ever heard one...

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Margaret Romao Toigo said...

Real writers write whether they are any good at it or not.

It doesn't matter if a writer writes in a blog, a book, a newspaper or even upon bathroom walls because writers write for the sake of a calling to do so, regardless of the popularity, diversity or seriousness of their chosen or assigned subject matter.

So, if you write for the sake of writing, you're a "real" writer, entitled to be distinguished from those of us who can competently string words together from time to time but are not actual writers.

And a journalist is anyone -- many are writers, but some are not -- who gathers information about some topic and then shares what he or she has learned, either with or without commentary.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Sampsa said...

Thanks for linking Gupsyman's post Elvira. I'm following your lead on trying to improve my blog writing skills. Here's my first BlogCritics post:

Financing water for All

Ow, and walker said "I linked you on my latest post" ;-))

At 8:03 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I tend to agree with you there. Writers write because they feel compelled to--whether it be in a private journal that no one else will see, or any other medium. It's a compulsion that one almost can't help--an urge to create and communicate that can't be easily stifled.

At 8:08 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Very nice piece--congrats on being a fellow BC'er!

Here's a clickable link (if it works--lol) for those who would like to check the piece out.

And Walker, thanks for the link!


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