I decided to wait a day to write this post after deciding that I was going to because, quite frankly, I needed to cool down a bit. One of the forums I frequent (I'm not going to mention any names here, although I imagine some of you have seen the thread) has a woman who I consider to be little more than a troll who is basically bashing any genre she doesn't write. Among others, she compares "short" (less that 100K) books to Readers Digest Condensed and Golden Books. She also referred to romance novels (which comprise over half of the paperback industry these days) as "slim Wuthering Heights-style knock-offs with smoldering women and Fabio clones on the cover," and pretty much everything that isn't either extremely long or a classic as "rubbish" and "inconsequential." She then proceeded to be quite abusive to anyone who dared to disagree with her.
In my opinion, especially on a writing board, this is unacceptable. If you are a writer who has started a novel, you know how hard it is to start. If you are a writer slogging through the middle of a novel, you know how hard it is to keep going. If you are a writer who has finished a novel, you know what a huge accomplishment that is! (And in my personal opinion, if you have ever attempted poetry and short stories, you know how hard it is to actually produce something decent. I do NOT write short fiction because I am not talented enough.;)) Because you know this, you ought to respect anyone else who has been down the same path. Anyone. I don't care if you don't like the kind of books they write, I don't care if you never read their genre (I don't care if you never read any of their work at all!) you still owe them respect for what they have done.
I think I have a friend in pretty much every genre at this point: non-fiction, commercial fiction, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, YA, and even *gasp* erotica. And you know what? I respect them all. (I don't think I personally know any mystery writers . . . what a shame. I LOVE a good mystery and am simply not smart enough to write one.;)) I am happy to know so many writers because, well, they're writers. I don't care what they write! They are weavers of words, purveyors of plot, creators of characters, just like me. I have a couple of special friends who I e-mail with frequently and none of them write in the genre I am currently shopping. That doesn't keep them from understanding what I'm going through and vice-versa. We still cheer at each others' successes and moan at our losses. And more importantly, keep each other company through this mostly solitary journey.
In my opinion, you never, never, have the right to think of yourself as superior because you write longer/more literary/more commercial books. (You are welcome to think of yourself as more successful, after all, some of us are more successful than others. *cough, cough* Pat *cough, cough* :)) And hey, since you just mentioned her (;)) mentioned her, does anybody (personally) know any debut author more successful than Pat? And more importantly, does anybody know a more genuinely kind and respectful person than Pat?
Personally, I think there's some Karma involved here. And I would much rather follow in Pat's footsteps than this other woman's.