Who’s afraid of being called elitist?

Who’s afraid of being called elitist?

I am.   I don’t want to be thought elitist.  What’s going on?

The word is used as a slur to describe those who are thought – by their accusers –  to consider themselves superior.  The elite and the elitists – so the thought goes – need to be brought down a peg or two.  Unpleasant feelings hang around the word, both for the accuser and the accused.  There was a sketch demonstrating the ridiculous nature of social hierarchy.   Three men stood in line.  The tallest, played by John Cleese, looked down on the other two; the middle one, Ronnie Barker, looked up to the tallest and down on the smallest; the smallest, Ronnie Corbett, looked up to both.  I smiled but I also squirmed.

Placing a comparison into a vertical structure induces those unpleasant feelings.  Better to remove that structure and see comparisons in a horizontal way.  X is neither better nor worse than Y; they are different.

This morning I asked a Facebook group of writers this question: does anyone consider in this group consider they write literary fiction, as opposed to genre?  The tenor of the responses could be summed up by one word that appeared: ‘dunno’.

The word signalled to me that the writer might be taking a particular stand.  Any moment, in this exchange, I expected the word ‘elitism’ to appear.  Sure enough it did.  It made me think of the trends we are witnessing in the US, UK and Europe.  Dunno is okay.  More than that, it’s expected, accepted and admired.  Down with experts.  Down with quality.  Down with the elite.

But I don’t want to think vertically.  We can see and compare different things in a horizontal way.  Categorising is useful for readers and writers.   I write literary fiction.  I don’t write genre fiction.  I’ve tried.  I sat down to write romance but found I couldn’t.  Humour and satire kept creeping in.  I admire anyone who can write what a great many people want to read.  It may be genre.  It may be the kind of literary fiction that publishers are after at the time, or is by one of the current names with a good record of sales and critical acclaim.

As a reader, I choose literary fiction and I exercise my own benchmark of quality.  What I read has to be well-written, entertaining and thought-provoking.   I aim for the same in my writing.  In recent years, I have tried to regain my foothold in the mainstream world and received enough rejections to try self-publishing.  I enjoyed getting books onto Amazon via Createspace.  But how to find readers – that’s the big question.

I’m sure there must be many writers who, like me, write literary fiction and who may have been published by mainstream publishers in the past but who are now being rejected.  I set up an ebook publishing site in 2010 to cater for these writers, but running the site was too time-consuming and too like my other job – counselling.  It was taken over but is now defunct.  I would like to find writers like me in the self-publishing world: non-genre, literary fiction writers, being rejected by mainstream publishers.  If anyone reading this considers they fit into this category, do please get in touch.

 

At Sea

Susie Barrett, cartoon greetings cards

At Sea is an appropriate title for today’s post.  Teddy Rose of virtualauthorsbooktours has told me that two of my social media buttons don’t work.  Hell.  My floundering  to stay afloat in the sea of social media and the self-publishing ocean continues.   I’m keen to fathom the Twitter and Google+ links out on my own, without recourse to paying someone to do it for me.  It’s a balancing act between working at promotion in order to make money from possible sales and spending money fruitlessly on that very promotion.  The amount I earn is so infinitesimal you have to screw up your eyes to make out the figure on the screen.  Paying for help to promote is against the grain, common sense and the current account balance.  But how else to gain sales and the readers I hope for?

I’ve just posted on Linkedin talking about the way pictures are more likely to attract attention than words.  I’m thinking of writing the story behind the greeting cards.   Click on the linkedin button in the sidebar to the right and please let me know what you think.

At Sea

Nesting

Phew!

How do other people manage to set up their personal websites? It is easy enough with WordPress to get a basic site up and running. But it has taken me days and days to work out how to get social media buttons onto the sidebar of this one. I fly about between screens, chasing URLs and passwords and old memos in the deep caverns of my computer and among the loose notes and notebooks on my desk. The worst of it is that I cannot reward myself with a glass of wine at six o’clock. I’m trying to lower blood pressure through diet rather than medication, so no alcohol for a while.
All these tussles and puzzles need to be gone through in order to regain my mojo for writing. I want to find new readers for the kind of fiction I like to write. In the past when I was lucky enough to be published by mainstream publishers, I received lots of good reviews. I can see no reason why there aren’t a number of readers out there who would enjoy my last three novels. But how can we find each other?
I’ve given up on getting any response from agents or publishers, and am now swimming in the crowded ocean of self-publishers, most of whom – or so it seems to me – write fantasy fiction of one sort or another, with an anything-goes kind of attitude to writing standards.
If anyone who happens to read this and is in the same situation as I am – a writer of literary fiction who has been published in the past by mainstream publishers – do please get in touch.

A constant experiment

When we lived in Papingo, one of the  Zagori villages in north-western Greece, I worked on an Amstrad.   Before that, I had something called a Screentyper which was the very latest in electric typewriters.  It had a rudimentary wordprocessing system.  How many years ago now?  Our Greek book  Travels with a Wildlife Artist, the Living Landscape of Greece was published in 1986.  So I’ve been using wordprocessing software of one sort or another for thirty three years.   Anyone would think I was adept by now.  I’ve always learnt by trial and error, and there have always been many errors on the way to the knowing how to do something.  As the systems change constantly, I feel I’m constantly back at the beginning.  With WordPress, I’ve been playing around with different themes, and I’ve still not learnt how to get the social media icons onto my sidebar.  My thought today that, like software, life itself is in constant need of the Update button.

A dreadful language?

How does anyone ever learn English?  I came across this poem in a magazine in the local surgery’s waiting room.  If I’d written it, I wouldn’t choose to be anonymous.  The poem-writer is, or was, very clever.   Does anyone know its history?

The English Language

I take it you already know

Of tough and bough and cough and dough?

Others may stumble, but not you

On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.

Well done!  An now you wish, perhaps,

To learnof less familiar traps?

 

Beware of heard, a dreadful word

That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it’s said like bed, bot bead.

For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!

Watch out for meat and great and threat

(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

 

A moth is not a moth in mother,

Nor both in bother, broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there,

Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,

And then there’s does and rose and lose –Just look them up – and goose and choose,

 

And cork and work and card and ward

And font and front and word and sword,

And do and go and thwart and cast –

Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.

A dreadful language?  Man alive,

I mastered it when I was five.     ANON

 

Spam

I’m horrified to see that there’s a hole in my website that’s letting in spam and seeping it through to Facebook, and probably other social media sites. I’ll spend this morning trying to plug the leakage. Back to LiveChat as per the cartoon?

Hours and hours

I’ve moaned about this before; that is, spending time on social media.  Engagement involves more than writing posts, commenting and replying to others. Hours and hours can be spent on polishing up your online presence. The other day I got into one of those tangles that involve clicking on the Help button. Most of us will have experienced that long wait for a response. Messages come up thanking us for our patience. They can’t see the demented person reading that message, displaying all signs of a total lack of patience.  It led me to while away the time drawing the scene.