Monday, June 13, 2016

The Factions of Writing

Before we jump into today's post, if you're going to be at Denver Comic Con, please look up my schedule on my Appearances tab and come say hi this weekend. I'll be talking monsters, fairy tales, and short stories, as well as signing books.

***

When I became a mom, I discovered there were factions. Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. Breast feeding moms vs. formula. Disposable diapering moms vs. cloth. Vaxers vs. non-vaxers. I'd just thought when you were a mom you were part of the Mom Club, and that you minded your own business, and all was well.

I was mistaken.



This was my first big introduction to the fact that cliques form in high school because humans need to feel like a part of a group in order to figure out their own identities, and that this continues long into adulthood. It may take a different form than the infamous high school clique, but it's really all the same thing. Feeling like a part of a group apparently means you have to feel like you are somehow better than another group. We see this in religion and politics all the time, but it certainly doesn't stop there.

When I became part of the writing world, I found it there, too. I'd been writing for a long time, but I was not part of the Writing World before. I once again found myself embroiled in factions. Indie vs. traditional publishing. Genre vs. genre. Oxford comma vs. skipping the Oxford comma. Short stories vs. flash fiction vs. novels vs. poems. I discovered some groups look down on other groups. Horror is often seen as less than the rest of speculative fiction, and there are those that say the writers of horror must be terrible people, lacking in empathy and remorse. Romance writers are treated as if they're unintelligent or lack writing ability. Poets and other types of authors glare at each other over a wide divide.



Writers of certain genres are often stereotyped in these ways, and it isn't limited to romance and horror. Is it true you can sometimes tell what a person writes before they tell you? Yes, this does happen. And it's not a bad thing, but when it reaches the next level, it takes a dark turn.

Why do we do this? Looking at the reason for the formation of cliques, people need to feel accepted. I don't think anyone sets out to be part of a clique. They identify with a group of people, gravitate toward that group, and subconsciously work to prove they deserve to be there. Sadly, this can take the form of putting down other groups. Then you get your factions. It happens in prison. It happens in the business world. It's everywhere.



Of course genre writers are going to be pulled toward each other. If you write romance, you're going to enjoy talking to other romance writers, because you can compare notes, bat around ideas, relish the intricacies you're intimately familiar with. Mystery writers can discuss the best places and ways to hide bodies and plant clues. Historical writers can point out the best places for research. There is support, comfort, and safety in being around like minded people. Moving toward those you identify with doesn't make you a bad person.

But putting down other people to raise your status does.

I see this way too often. College educated folks putting down those who did not go to college. Moms putting down other moms. Traditional and Indie published authors at each others' throats. Genre vs. genre vs. literary vs. poet.



It's seemed amplified to me lately, and I don't know if that's because tensions are so high in the States with such a contentious presidential election going on or if it's symptomatic of a growing sense of helplessness, but I wish everyone could remember that, no matter your faction, we're all people. No one's better than anyone else. No method of doing something is better than any other. If we all did everything the same way and liked the same things, life would be incredibly dull.

Instead of putting someone else down, talk to them and find out why they enjoy the things they do, why they do things a certain way. Understand a different viewpoint. Settle your empathy in place and learn about other people. All it can do is enrich your own experience.

To be clear, I'm not just talking about writers here. Humans are given empathy for a reason. We're given the ability to use logic and reasoning, and we should use it. You can maintain your status and your own individual personality without ripping someone else apart to do it. That, at least, should be where adults grow out of their high school ignorance without losing the person they created and got to know during that time.



Edited to add a note: This post was written before the shooting this weekend. There was also an issue of a racist comment one author left on another author's Facebook yesterday, which has blown up. While I did not write this post about homophobia and racism, it certainly applies. I wish we could spend less time splitting ourselves into groups, and more time working together and caring about each other.


Now for links. Bear in mind that I'm not endorsing any of these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting to a market or contest.

Accepting Submissions:

Outlook Springs is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry "tinged with the strange." Pays between $10 and $25, depending upon submission type. Deadline July 15.

Helios Quarterly Magazine is seeking fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art. Current theme "Miscommunication." Pay varies by type of submission. Deadline June 30.

Bad Apple Zine is seeking YA fiction with a taste of the fantastical. They want at least one story per issue written by someone between ages 16 and 21. Pays £15.

Contests:

Winter Tangerine Review is holding the Winter Tangerine Awards. Only those who have not published a collection or novel may enter. $250 cash prize, plus publication. No entry fee. Deadline July 1.

FutureScapes Writing Contest asks you to envision a certain world and write about it. Up to 8000 words. Cash prizes, $2000 for first; publication. No entry fee. Deadline July 15.

What factions have you noticed as an adult? What cliques did you discover hovering around that you hadn't been aware of before? Have you inadvertently found yourself as part of a clique? What did you do about it? Are any of these links of interest to you? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Cat Fight Silhouette, by OCAL, clker.com
*Cartoon Ninjas, by Kelly, clker.com
*Closed Fist, by OCAL, clker.com
*Boxing Bears, by OCAL, clker.com
*Fighting Cat Bandaged, by Ruth, clker.com

44 comments:

  1. Well said, Shannon. If you have to make others look bad to make yourself look better, then you actually look worse.
    Ironically, even though I write science fiction, I've never found myself in a group of science fiction writers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know very few folks who write horror, and I don't get to see them regularly. If I wasn't so involved in the local writing community, I wouldn't even know them. It's good to hang out with people of all personalities, genres, you name it.

      Delete
  2. Clique's - just the name is off putting. I'm a loner for a reason. :)
    Enjoy your comic con!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is. Ugh. Being a loner can be so much easier.

      Delete
  3. I agree. I started noticing that within the writing world lately. It's weird. We have so much to learn from each other, yet we get classified.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure why it happens, ultimately. We're after the same things.

      Delete
  4. I'm applauding. Well said! I hated those cliques in high school and I loathe them as an adult. I mingle with writers of all kinds and I wouldn't want it any other way. Have fun at the comic con and thanks for the links!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many interesting personalities that it can really hold you back to try to stick to one group.

      Delete
  5. I can see where there are those factions for writing. Thankfully, I haven't come across any of them that look down on the others. My writing community is full of all different kinds of writers. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The dynamic seems to switch sometimes, and Colorado may be YA and speculative heavy, but we still have so many different types of writers here.

      Delete
  6. Hi Shannon - I'd love it if we could all work together and accept others' foibles and fallibilities and realise we're all at fault ... sharing, communicating and understanding - thankfully many of us understand agree - well said - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does seem to be the majority that embrace differences. Sometimes the negative outshines the positive for some reason.

      Delete
  7. Isn't it also human nature to want to one-up the competition? The sad event in Orlando which took so many lives illustrates one of the problems - access to weapons. That applies to homegrown killers as well as imported ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's definitely in human nature, and I can see why it was necessary before. A lot of our biggest issues are based on things that were necessary in a different sort of world.

      Delete
  8. I almost agree with you, but...
    People who embrace willful ignorance are not up to the level of what a normal person should be. Those people choose to not have empathy and to not use rational thought. Even dogs have empathy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Valid point. On a large scale, I can see it being willful ignorance. On a smaller scale, it's maybe more self-absorption.

      Delete
  9. Today I wrote about being drawn to books which make me think no matter the genre setting of it. Harold Bloom, a Yale professor, went ballistic when Stephen King won a prestigious literary award. How can we see clearly if our noses are so high in the air, right?

    It is human nature to categorize to feel more at ease. It is something to fight not to nurture. Our games are of killing; our movies of death. We cannot see the worth of those around us with the blood in our eyes. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I've seen such attacks about King, but he really does write beautifully.

      I do wonder if we can evolve past the point of categorization, but we do it as a comfort measure, and to understand things. :(

      Delete
  10. All very good advice! But seriously...oxford comma rules;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've done my best to avoid clique cruelty while supporting healthy groups. I write Fantasy and Science Fiction, and themes of tolerance and compassion are vital to my work, so naturally I seek out both authors and audiences that embrace these things. I read much more broadly than that, though. Even the dread LitFic. The White Tiger is a heck of a novel, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read all kinds of things, though I often get deeply into one genre or another for a little while. I take the kids to the library weekly in the summer (during the school year, they check books out at school), and I grabbed a bunch of stuff outside my normal reading, including a couple memoirs. There's so much to explore.

      Delete
  12. I am the most anti-clique person in the world. I'm the person who always looks for the person who looks lonely or lost. And I'm quite proud of my children for being the same. They pick up strays. I see it in both writing groups I belong to and I saw it as a parent when my kids were playing sports. I'm the parent sitting by herself because I want to. Not unfriendly, just not part of the gang.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always picked up strays, too. I can't imagine not having met the people I met because of this. I do tend to also sit by myself at kid things, though I'll chat, but it's usually because I've got some writing with me. Watch, take pictures, write. :p

      Delete
  13. Yes, cliques seem to be the norm in business life. In social work too, which totally surprised me. So many ways of labeling others as outcast. Its a shame.

    Some of us are able to look past the faults in others (and I mean that seriously in jest). I happen to like differences, and learn new and interesting things from participants in other cliques. Variety keeps me intrigued, and well informed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed on variety and differences! The world would be a dull place if we were all the same.

      Delete
  14. My last several posts have been about this exact topic. I'm so over those cliques. But, I'm so thankful for my friends that know and get me!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well said. And, when you stay in your own clique, you get into what I've heard termed as circle jerking. You parrot each other and don't allow new ideas in.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What cliques/factions have I noticed? All the ones you mentioned. It's sad that people seem to think that the only way to build themselves up is by tearing others down. Whatever happened to tolerance, embracing our differences, and live and let live?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that there's more of that good, but the bad is just more noticeable.

      Delete
  17. You're right, and I agree with every word of your post, but... what about those who picked up weapons to kill innocents in Orlando and anywhere else? Are those murderers coming from the same humanity pool? Should we be tolerant and accepting towards them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm afraid I'm not in a place that lets me feel accepting and tolerant of those who do that. We probably should be, but...

      Delete
  18. Hi Shannon,

    What a thought-provoking post. A post I totally concur with. As for any kind of clique, I've never been associated, directly or indirectly, with any type of clique. I'm very much solo artist. However, I do appreciate the positive interaction we share.

    Thank you, Shannon.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  19. You raised a lot of very good points here. A lot of folks seem to forget another person is behind that computer screen, or, if interacting in real time, is still a person with feelings and genuine motivations. I'm rather involved in layperson pro-science advocacy, and the nastiness coming from the alt-med, anti-vaxxer crowd is simply astounding. They even have gone after 12-year-old Marco Arturo, said the cruelest things about him, and tried to dox him recently, all because he dared not go along with their POV.

    I've noticed some writers looking down on, either directly or indirectly, on those of us who've chosen to go indie. They won't even bother reading a book if they discover it's not traditionally-published, refuse to review indie books on their blogs, go through these books with a fine-toothed comb, or ignore them if there's no editor credited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't heard about the attack on Marco. What a twisted thing to do.

      I've seen the snobbery about indie books. There's a lot of progress being made there, though, so hopefully the good continues.

      Delete
  20. Such a wonderful post. You touched on a subject that is causing chaos all over the world. People need to care more about each other. Even though we're different, we are all the same.

    I'm an indie, but support my friends who are traditionally published or indie, equally. I just want them to do well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I want everyone to do well, no matter how they're published!

      Delete
  21. I echo your thoughts today. We live in such a negative world. It's in the news, in the music, in the TV shows, all over the radio... I miss the days when people tried to find the good in things, but we all have the power to be that one who sees the sunshine, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe they should remake Pollyanna for the modern crowd and remind everyone how to see the positive.

      Delete
  22. I try to find the good in things, and hope that if I can bring light to my little corner of the world, for my family and friends, maybe it will spread.

    www.smpace.com/blog

    ReplyDelete