Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Dangerous Expert

You know what I’m talking about already, don’t you: that guy. The guy who watches a documentary on Afghanistan and suddenly becomes a foreign policy expert. The housewife who hears from a friend of a neighbor that so-and-so only won X Factor because so-and-so is related to the ex-lover of one of the judges’ former roommates, and don’t you think they ought to sue. It’s called armchair quarterbacking, and it’s epidemic.

It even works on Amazon.

Not to pick on my personal gravy train, but I think there is a point where readers' remarks officially get out of hand. Aided and abetted by technology, the Dangerous Expert is out there…somewhere anonymous, usually…with corrective measures just a notch or two beyond pithy.

Certain people among us, usually those personality types who take it upon themselves to police the entire world, have been reading blogs and books on writing and have become expert literary critics. Well, I say. Their mission is nothing shy of forcing all writers into the same perfect box. That’ll be lovely, won’t it. And there shall be no room therein for criticism of any kind, because all books will be automatically excellent. By their definition, of course.

There shall be no personification. The moon cannot have its own agenda.

There shall be no short sentences. Fragments. Know what that is? Bad style. Not debatable. Green squiggly lines underneath. Crap, in other words, and the Self-Appointed Expert shan’t deign to read it.

There shall be no love at first sight. Such things are not realistic, and as such, they get the double strikethrough treatment, as they deserve.

There shall be no freedom of expression. All new authors are to study, refer to, and conform to the styles that have been laid out by “established authors,” i.e. those who are real professionals and have contracts with one of the Big Six. Any style that differs is invalid.

The indie houses are to be discouraged, punished, demoralized, scolded, talked down to, and ridiculed at every possible opportunity, usually with comments such as, “Get an editor you fool,” or “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” Okay, scratch that second one. It IS BUTTER. And that’s why you HATE IT. 

In short, what mankind has unleashed upon the earth is nothing new under the sun. They used to be called busybodies. Gossips. Ne’er-do-wells. Their rallying cry was their narrow vendetta, and it still is. Today their fuel is an ill-advised doctrine of the Correction of the Wrong, of which I am apparently one. Because I write in fragments. And because my characters don’t need all of Books Two and Three to fall in love because they’re conflicted or confused or one of them happens to be a werewolf. And because celestial bodies, in my world, are anthropomorphic and have their own agenda. It’s clearly ridiculous, but you know what? I liked it when I wrote it, and I still like it now. I think it’s frickin’ cool. And so do thousands of other people, who are buying the crap out of the crap I write. The world is made of magic and fairy dust and sentence fragments and that’s why I love it. And that’s why my evil agenda cannot be stopped. Cue evil laugh here.