On Perceived Snobbery

January 22, 2010 at 11:25 AM | Posted in Op-Ed, Writing, Writing Advice | 6 Comments

So my schedule this semester rocks. I’m taking two English classes – Myths of Britain and Intermediate Fiction I – an Arabic class that is turning out to be way cooler than I thought it was going to be, and my very last general curriculum requirements. It makes me ecstatic. Because after this semester (or so the hope goes) the only classes that I will be taking are classes that I want to take and am not required to take. I will be filling up my mind with all these lovely things that I want to fill my mind up with. Like I said – it makes me ecstatic.

But something about my creative writing class hasn’t been sitting well with me for the last couple of classes. I couldn’t figure it out, not for the life of me. My professor is pretty kick ass, my classmates are pretty amazing. There is nothing wrong with this class.

Except, you know, writers are snobs.

Now, before you all jump on me with all kinds of indignant shouts and protests, let me finish! Or correct myself. Writers have a reputation of being absolute snobs. When a person who is not a writer thinks of a writer, they imagine the starving artist, the person who has a superior insight into the human condition, the person who has been gifted by some divine light to put life on a page for all (or some) people to view with a renewed sense of being.

But I’m a writer, and I certainly am not any of those things. I have a talent (maybe) but I practice, a lot. I read, a lot. And I don’t think I have a superior insight into anything. I write what I know, what I feel and what I learn. I write what I imagine, what I fantasize and what I imagine other people fantasize. And I don’t like being put into a category that is elitist and snobby.

And that’s what bothers me most about this class. Because, accidentally (or purposely), the professor and my classmates have put themselves up on a pedestal. They have decreed (yes, it is a strong word) that they and their writing colleagues and better, in some form or another, than the common man. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Do you guys ever feel that way? Am I weird to feel this way? Please – do tell!

Posted by Sumayyah (Cross posted to The Raven Desk)

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6 Comments »

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  1. Yes! Absolutely! I went to a creative arts school in New Orleans and then was an English major in college and you just summed up both experiences exactly. I always felt like the most frivolous, silly person in the room because everyone else just took themselves so seriously all the time.

    Ultimately I think that your humility will be to your professional advantage.

  2. “There is nothing wrong with this class. Except, you know, writers are snobs.”

    That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell. Sadly I think a lot of academic writers are like this–especially ones involved in literary writing. They do take themselves very seriously, but as a tradeoff, they end up getting this elitist higher-than-thou attitude. You are so not alone in feeling this way!There’s a whole argument between literary and genre writers that I’ve tried to stay out of, for the most part. But the snobbery does drive me crazy.

    I’m not sure how you’d deal with this? Just be real. And don’t mention anything that associates you with genre writers ;)

    -Mandy
    (Feathers from AW)

  3. Not all writers are good at expressing themselves verbally and in group situations, so sometimes there is a perceived snobbery there that is really the result of awkwardness and/or shyness.

    That aside, I know plenty of egotistical writers. There aren’t any more or less of them than there are of actors, musicians, professors, or doctors who think themselves superior to others. Runs in *all* circles. As long as *you* get that being good at something doesn’t make one superior, I wouldn’t let it bother you. There will *always* be people clinging to pedestals in the world.

  4. I agree. I’m not in any writing classes, but my 1102 Lit professor seems to think that children’s literature (YA included) is somehow inferior to other forms of literature. And though my college has to the best English program in the state, it doesn’t seem to have the best writers. No one wants to write genre. My college’s lit magazine just publishes non-genre fiction which is often devoid of a plot and interesting characters.

  5. I was also a college writing major, and oh boy did I experience the same. Admittedly, I can be snobby about some writing-related things (like Nicholas Sparks), but I have always and will always read all across the board, and I absolutely appreciate books, readers & writers that aren’t in my genre of choice. Unlike many of my peers.

    I also admit it’s very gratifying to look back a few years later and know I’m the one whose book is getting published, not the stream-of-consciousness male ennui structureless poetry chapbook people who looked down on anything that wasn’t experimental. Although the biggest snobs are probably the same ones who now say, “YA? …oh. So when are you going to write an adult book?”

  6. Yes…yes. YES! This is so true. I’ve had the same experience in my Creative Writing classes. I could be like, hey guys a few of us are going out to a club tonight and they would all look at me like I was the lowest thing on the food chain. Some writers need to lighten up…


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