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Telling me you're smart doesn't make it so

There are a crap-ton of "geniuses" out there who think they know everything there is to know about this art of putting words together in a manner that makes people want to read them -- don't do this, young, aspiring writer; you'll never be as good as Jack Kerouac, young, aspiring writer; perhaps if you're struggling to find the right words, young, aspiring writer, you're not really a writer.

I hate them; the egomaniacs who call themselves writers -- I don't care how many books they've published. Writers aren't supposed to be in love with themselves.

If you think you're smarter than every soul on earth; do us a favor -- STOP WRITING

Take columnist Crawford Kilian for example. Kilian was featured on NPR's Talk of the Nation last week discussing a column he wrote nearly two years ago urging young writers to steer clear of great works from Kerouac, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger and others.

"Any young person who wants to be a novelist should of course be a reader as well. But some novels can be more hazard than inspiration," Kilian wrote in The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers. "They are often well-written, but their effects have generally been disastrous: they inspired younger writers to imitate them, they created awful new genres that debased readers' tastes, or they promoted literary or social values that we could very much do without."

Kilian makes some good points in the article, but the premise is arrogant, and it PISSES ME OFF.

I'll take inspiration wherever I can find it. Why must all the smarty-pants critics and experts talk down to us unpublished hacks like our faces are covered with spaghetti sauce and boogers?

They're a dreary lot -- intellectuals

It's unfortunate their mommies paraded them about like pint-sized Mozarts;  their teachers labeled them Indigo Children; their classmates were sickened by their arrogant voices. But people don't enjoy feeling stupid. 

Writers LISTEN. They're the quiet kids in college who don't get "A"s in upper-level English courses, because participation is mandatory, and they don't care to compete for oxygen with their windbag classmates who fancy themselves intelligent for reading Ulysses.

I'm not normally an advocate for turning back the hands of time, but I'd make an exception in this one case -- it would be awesome if 2012 Alexis could go back to 1998 and give my college professors and classmates a giant truth enema.

Reading James Joyce and Virginia Woolf will not make you wiser -- crazy perhaps, but that's all.

Telling a room full of people how brilliant you were in grammar school translates: "My cognitive function plateaued in 6th grade."

Writers don't throw big words around to appear smarter than everybody else; they budget their vocabulary. Every word has a price tag -- think of it like a swear jar, except you're coughing up cash for thesaurus obscurities instead of obscenities.

A deep thinker spiked the OJ in the teachers' lounge 50 years ago and suggested how fabulous it would be if arbitrary word counts were imposed on student essays, so from third grade to grad school it's beaten into us that quantity and cumbersome words are more important than clarity.

It's not a visual art -- writing. It doesn't have to look pretty. It doesn't have to sound pretty as long as the words are valid and the emotion is genuine. Books should be accessible -- that doesn't mean dumb -- to every person who wants to read them.

I think writers and critics of writers should take more care in considering readers -- they are people who care enough to open our stories. Isn't it foolish to slap their faces on page 1 with a lot of fancy gibberish that only professional students, college professors and book critics for the New York times label Literature?

What could Be stranger than writing?

"People like ourselves may see nothing wondrous in writing, but our anthropologists know how strange and magical it appears to a purely oral people—a conversation with no one and yet with everyone. What could be stranger than the silence one encounters when addressing a question to a text? What could be more metaphysically puzzling than addressing an unseen audience, as every writer of books must do? And correcting oneself because one knows that an unknown reader will disapprove or misunderstand?" -- NEIL POSTMAN



  1. If they were discerning enough to comment they would be referred to as reviewers....not critics. Well done!!!


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