Are there still writers just in it for the fame/money?

October 25, 2011

I was listening to Storywonk Daily‘s 200th episode this morning. Lani and Alastair read an email that they’d received calling them out for taking potshots at ‘literary fiction’, and they apologized for taking out their frustration on a few snobby critics who consider anything not literary as ‘trash’ out on the whole genre. Alastair gave shoutouts to some of his favorite literary authors, and Lani said that whoever was passionate about literary fiction and inspired to write it, or loved to read it, they were a Storywonk at heart and that she’d avoid saying mean things in the future. It was all very sweet.

But something was nagging at me as I listened, and it took me a few minutes to figure out what I was thinking about. From a few places, including an article of Douglas Adams that was in ‘The Salmon of Doubt’, I’ve absorbed this meme of the literary author, (certainly not representing EVERY literary author,) who isn’t really passionate or inspired about the stories that can be told in that genre, but full of himself and just wanting to create a piece of “Literature.” (Douglas said in the article that he aspired to be literate, not literary.)

I have to admit, I’ve never really known another writer personally who I’d put into that category. And the broader bucket of ‘writers who are motivated more to be successful than by passion’ wouldn’t be unique to Lit fic – in other genres, considering the scarcity of artistic accolades, the equivalent would be someone who just wants to have written a successful blockbuster and get rich from it, instead of actually being inspired to write. I’m not sure I know anyone like that either.

Do writers like that actually exist, or are they just a cultural meme that sprang up from writers in one genre taking potshots at another?

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