I was listening to an interesting podcast recently, where a couple authors had collaborated on a novel. The novel was a mystery and each author had strengths in areas where the other had weakness. It was interesting to listen to them talk animatedly about working together and the perception of their genre. The last part was the most intriguing, as they felt, as mystery authors, that their genre is looked down upon by other authors, literary fiction, or other styles which they considered “more serious”. I found this interesting because nearly every person I have talked to, whether in writing forums or otherwise, feel the exact same, except in reverse. Authors of literary fiction feel that their work is looked down on by authors of genre fiction and seen as snobby.
This made me think about what has a lasting impact in our society. And what is remembered is the negative comments, perceptions, and ideas. The idea that mystery fiction, literary fiction, or fantasy has a place above another is deceptive. Each has its strength and the presence of other forms of fiction makes everything stronger. Literary fiction benefits from good mystery or fantasy and vice-versa. One is not better than the other, when together they create something stronger. Each genre or style can learn from another and use these techniques to strengthen their own work.
I found this same perception when studying degree programs. Arts generally has a bad reputation, where science is viewed as a safer bet, and business safer yet. However, the arts also has a good reputation for creative thinking, being able to “think outside the box” while science and business holds a reputation for being boxed in. The arts student is expected to think in a more creative style, and as an arts student I believe I can attest that sometimes conventional logic is missing entirely from these thoughts; however, the absence of conventional logic does not mean the idea will not work. But, sometimes the business or science student who thinks more analytically and within the realm of conventional logic can infinitely aid a situation. The analytical thinker or the creative thinker see any given situation differently. This is a wonderful thing, and together they will be able to find a solution to even the most bizarre situations. The world needs both analytical thinkers and creatives. Just as the literary world needs both mystery fiction and literary fiction.
The idea that one form of study is better or worse than another form is misleading. It is assumed that the analytical thinker will find jobs easier, and the mystery writer publication. Though perhaps it seems this way because I am neither analytical nor a mystery writer. Possibly a mystery writer and an analytical thinker believes in the opposite. What, I believe, it boils down to is that when it is something close to ourselves, and we read articles about it, we remember the negativity before the positivity within our own area. Yet when reading of other areas, be it of study or otherwise, we remember the positive, because a positive there in our mentality reinforces the negativity of our own areas. Being aware of this is key, because if we see what we are doing then maybe we will be able to consciously dismiss the negativity and remember that we are only thinking this way because, for whatever reason, society has conditioned us to remember the negativity before positivity and to doubt our choices.
Without diversity we would live in an entirely dull world. Every program is necessary and every genre has its place. Because something is not attractive to you personally does not mean it is less, and because someone somewhere doesn’t agree with what you are doing doesn’t mean their opinion holds weight over your life. People maybe disagree with what you are doing but you need to have faith in yourself and the choices you are making. The chances are that most people do not look down on your program or genre, but because some do you are simply lumping everyone in together, and by doing this you are being as unfair to all those other people as the few whose opinion you are hearing are being to you.
Meltzer, Brad and Tod Goldberg. July 12 2016. The Writers Panel with Ben Blacker. Audio.