Thin skins, foul mouths, and big heads
Consider this a rant.
For every polite, talented, eager to learn teenaged writer, there are at least three who have thin skins, foul mouths, and big heads. TracyLOVER is a fine example of this latter category. She finally got back to Hobbeth (I wondered what took her so long) after that worthy took her to task for her flaming me on The White Winds. From the account I got, the letter was foul mouthed, and told Hobbeth to shove off (in far less polite terms). This after Hobbeth, a seasoned and experienced writer with a lot of skill (especially in the mechanics of writing), took it upon herself to try and guide this child to better her writing.
The child seems to have skin as thin as an onion’s, and a head as big as Alaska, because she obviously thinks her writing needs no help. The report I got from Claudette (who also got flamed by this infant) is that TracyLOVER considers writing to be a fun and diverting pastime, not to be taken seriously. Rather like… oh… collecting dryer lint… though I’m sure there are some people out there who might consider such an activity to be an all-consuming passion.
Writing not to be taken seriously? Talk to Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, or any other author published beyond the web. They’ll tell you how serious writing can be. It has made them some serious money.
Writing not to be taken seriously? Talk to every single teacher of any language across the world who is trying to drum the rudiments of grammar and composition into the hard heads of their students. They’ll tell you how they always despair of actually succeeding at their job, but what a genuine thrill it is to find someone who not only “gets it” but uses it to create a masterpiece.
Writing not to be taken seriously? Talk to any journalist who reports on a breaking story, or writes a feature article, or an op-ed piece. The written word is the repository of much of our understanding of the world around us, having supplanted the oral tradition throughout most of the globe. Without clear, concise writing, we cannot get a clear, concise picture of what is happening to us, to our neighbors, to our loved ones near and far.
Writing not be taken seriously? Ask any scientist who is trying to describe his or her latest discovery to his or her peers. Ask any doctor who goes through your medical notes in an effort to understand exactly how you got that odd growth on your skin. Ask any organization trying to secure grant funding for their works. They’ll tell you how important it is to be precise, how one ill-chosen word can bring a whole new meaning to the science at hand, how the monies needed can be granted or denied on the strength of how a request is written.
Writing not to be taken seriously? Ask any teenaged boy sweating over a letter to a girl he likes, knowing that if he says things one way, she’ll turn up her nose at him in disgust, and if he says them another way, she’ll laugh him to scorn.
Writing not to be taken seriously? I don’t think so. Writing is serious business. And those who would dare to write and create with words their own worlds (or even play in other people’s worlds, as is the case in fan fiction) had better practice and be willing to learn from those who have gone before them and have that much more knowledge and skill.
Writing is a serious business. It’s time some of these teenagers learned that lesson.