Sunday, May 05, 2013

SF and Literary Fiction

This started as a comment, responding to a comment by Foxessa on the previous post. Then it got too long.

Foxessa wrote:
Um, the resources for learning publishing in NYC -- even for the class so despised by this genre -- are incredibly numerous. For pete's sake, they teach courses in it at NYU, even, that bastion of literary writing. Ah-hem.

Why is it so important to genre writers to believe such nonsense about fiction writers who don't do genre?

A single clueless writer is no more representative of anything than an sf/f clueless self-published writer -- and there are throngs of them too.

I am the genre writer in question here, and I was curious about how people who are not SF, romance or mystery writers learn practical information, because I didn't know. I have since found out more about "literary" networking. There are classes on publishing in writing programs, as Foxessa notes. There are organizations such as PEN. There is the entire network of writers employed by universities and colleges. There is The Loft in Minneapolis, which is the largest "literary" organization in the country. I should have thought of The Loft. It's in the next city over, and the guy who teaches many of practical knowledge classes started as a science fiction writer, then became an editor, agent and manuscript fixer. I have known him for decades.

So, as it turns out, there are plenty of ways for "literary" writers to get practical information. The author of the Salon article used none of them. It makes him look even more clueless.

My question was based on ignorance and curiosity, and now I know more than I knew before. That is the purpose of questions.

Why are genre authors prejudiced against non-genre authors? For many years writers and critics of "literary fiction" sneered at science fiction. They haven't entirely stopped. This has produced a lot of piled-up-through-the-decades anger. The walls between science fiction and mainstream fiction have slowly broken down, and the anger is no longer entirely appropriate. But I hold grudges for a long time.

I have more to say about post WWII American literary fiction, but I've decided -- after struggling with the topic all day -- that I will not write more at the moment. I don't think I know enough to be coherent.


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