Everybody Wants To Be A Teacher Not A Critic


It seems to me that a lot of genre writers want to be teachers, specifically creative writing teachers, and this irritates me. It is not that the hundreds of blog posts about how to write are bad; indeed they are far more honest and often better written than most books that can be bought on the subject of creative writing are.

My feeling on this matter is that it is just so artisan, crafty, folksy and nice. Sure genre fandom has always been very open to sharing information about the craft of writing, and this is a level of communal introspection which is possibly unique to genre fandom. It is a good thing, but this is easy. A smart teenager can be taught and understand the level which most creative writing material is pitched at.

This is bad for genre. This is infantile and ultimately without some proper critics doing some hard thinking this is causing genre to stay still instead of grow. What if the time spent writing how to write articles was spend developing and disseminating our critical tools beyond the blunt knife of misapplied genre theory? Why aren’t we examining our field with all the other theories? Wouldn’t this help us all become better?

Oh wait, yes, I know why this isn’t happening because it is hard and not accessible. This is far harder than writing lists of comforting rules and guidelines on how to, supposedly, write a good story. But it would help us all produce better and more insightful stories in the long run if we took a more critical view of our field.

Is it time to cut down on writing about the craft of writing and start looking for new avenues of discussion? I think that it is. Ultimately I think that it would help drag fandom into a better place. This is only one axis of a much large debate of how seriously we should be taking genre and what individuals within the community wish to gain out of genre fiction. Are there people who see genre as only a stepping stone to proper fiction? Is that a bad thing? What about the people who only want to retell their favorite stories? Is this to be treated and thought of in someway as worse than those who wish to transcend?

It is time to stop being teachers, passing on established ideas, and it is time to become critics.

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