Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Academics vs Fiction Authors, Part II

Here's another stark contrast.

When we were looking for blurbers for Gospel of the Living Dead, we went around to some of the experts quoted therein. Most are professors and/or film critics. Most (as per my previous blog on this topic) refused us as they were too busy. (Hmm-mmm, you work three days per week, nine months of the year and you're too busy to read a book on a topic you're supposedly interested in?) But one turned us down because in 49 footnotes, I agreed with his point, but in ONE footnote, I said he was wrong. Now there's a thick-skinned fellow with good self-esteem, and no desire for petty revenge! Since I've been interacting with fiction authors, I've had to turn down many for writing blurbs for them, often after reading their manuscripts and telling them, frankly but politely, that I can't have my name on their book, because I don't think it's very good. I've turned people down for nominations for the Stoker Award similarly. And, at least to my face, all of them are still perfectly friendly and helpful: sometimes they turn down a blurb for me, sometimes they write one. It's just how it goes and there are no hard feelings.

So, I think the only question are these.

A) does the ethereal, heady world of academia attract small-souled, petty little tyrants?
B) does the work involved (sitting around, ALONE, thinking about hard, troubling questions that most "normal" people avoid) turn one into such a troglodyte?
And on the other side:
C) does fiction writing attract humble, well-adjusted people?
D) does the rubbing against one another necessary to succeed in the writing world build up some healthy calluses so that people act better toward one another?

I'll start the conversation by answering (B) and (D).


Blogger TL Boehm said...

Great wit in your post here. Peace. TL Boehm

4:21 PM  
Blogger John Goodrich said...

Academic infighting is so vicious because the stakes are so low.

I'm surprised you've never heard this.

6:01 PM  
Blogger KPaffenroth said...

Well, I've heard the saying, John, but it still doesn't make sense, and it's still funny to point and laugh.

8:15 PM  
Blogger John Goodrich said...

If you want your PhD, there has to be something obsessive and fanatic about you. To take your particular postage stamp of intellectual territory and say "this is mine," and then defend it against all comers.

And while describing writers as a whole is as easy as herding cats, there is a great amount of support and kindness in the community.

Writing is also a more sexy occupation. Which job do you lead with at parties?

And I think professors don't get as many positive strokes. People are impressed if you've written a book, but there's a preconception that you may be a stuck-up snob or ivory tower-dwelling know-nothing if you're a professor. Writers go out to meet their fans. Professors have to go out and meet their students. I know who I'd rather deal with.

7:53 AM  

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