Let’s stop attacking the work of a guy who keeps winning awards for his literary advocacy; in fact, let’s stop attacking people’s opinions altogether…
I read this blog post recently by someone who claimed he or she got into a literary “fight,” insinuating that he or she was insulted nearly to the point of instigating violence over a co-worker reading James Patterson.
No, intelligent, discerning reader with a sense of humor. No, I am not joking.
*insert incredulous look here* (on your behalf, dear reader)
The reason? Patterson doesn’t live up to this person’s literary standards because he does not write all of his books by himself, which, despite the fact that he credits his co-authors, is somehow a “scam.”
Like, didn’t I just talk about this issue of trying to shame other readers for not liking the “right” books or the books that you like? Yes. Yes, I did. But then I read this other blog post by someone else, and felt like I needed to talk about it some more. So, let’s discuss this other blog post a little bit.
First of all, since the author did not, in fact, engage in fisticuffs, he or she is probably not really that riled up. There are numerous instances in which literary proclivities have actually led to violence, including an incident in 2012 in the literary, educated college town of Ann Arbor. So, in this case….
Secondly, is having a co-author for your work a “scam?”
Merriam-Webster defines a scam as follows:
a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people
Is it dishonest to write your work with another person, if you credit that person? I would argue that it is more of a “scam” to have a book ghostwritten; most of us know that if a book comes out with a celebrity name on the cover, it was probably actually written by someone else. Yet we often do not know who the ghostwriter is. Then again, ghostwriting can allow a writer to gain experience and, if done well, can lead to opportunities with the publishing industry.
Co-authoring books, on the other hand, is something that a lot of people have done. From Rachel Cohn and David Levithan to Dean Koontz and Kevin Anderson to anthologies, co-authoring is a fairly common practice. Co-authoring allows people to learn from and work with other authors whom they greatly admire. It allows the craft to be honed and refined, it allows work to be written and released more quickly, and it allows the often solitary work of writing to become something collaborative and not-solitary. Not to mention, there is a long literary history of co-authoring work.
If we’re going to talk about scams, wouldn’t it be more prudent to discuss the James Frey fiction factories, the Assassin of Secrets plagiarism scandal, or the questionable release of Go Set a Watchman? How about Barnes & Noble’s recent advertising to purchase a new release from Lewis Carroll that was actually just a less revised draft of Alice in Wonderland?
I don’t see how writing a novel with someone else is a “scam,” and even if it was, don’t see any reason to verbally accost someone’s reading choices. People are different, and they like different things; it is okay to be different. In terms of literature preference, why does there have to be a “right” opinion and a “wrong” opinion? Isn’t okay to just have your opinion, and realize that not everyone is going to agree with it?
Yet, the blog post ends along the lines of:
Okay, my co-worker scored a few points on that one, but I still knew that I was right. I hate it when I lose an argument even though I’m right. That’s another reason I don’t argue very often.
What this quote says to me is that this person assumes that his or her opinion is validated, somehow “correct” as opposed to the opinion of anyone who disagrees with him or her. That viewpoint, my friends, is frightening. If you follow the line of thinking for this blog post to its’ logical conclusion, James Patterson books are not “valid” literature, “real” readers can’t read and enjoy the work that is published under his name, and if the “correct” way to read does not involve Patterson’s works, then why not just burn it?
I don’t know about you, but I’m against banning and burning books. I have a feeling a lot of blog posts this week will discuss Banned Books Week, so I’ll spare you a definition, but just use this movement as proof that A LOT of people, including me, are not cool with censorship. Burning books is not okay, banning books is not okay, and talking shit to your co-workers about their reading choices is also not okay. I mean, freedom of speech is important, too, so you can say what you want… but using your freedom of speech to inform other people that their reading choices, relationship choices, etc., are not “correct” according to you doesn’t mean you’re not being a jerk.