I spoke to a college professor recently in regard to a matter unrelated to writing. In the course of the discussion, however, it came out that I am a writer, and he asked, "What sort of things do you write?"
When I answered, there was a pause, as he searched for something to say. "Oh. That's interesting," was all he could come up with. Then he asked how the weather was in Michigan. No segue.

It's hard to get used to the idea that many people consider fiction writing to be declasse. I suppose if I called my work literary fiction I'd get more respect, but I'd be lying, so that isn't good. The snobby idea that fiction is a waste of reading time cracks me up, especially with the deluge of self-righteous, sensational, highly biased personal opinion currently being published under the heading of nonfiction.

I think fiction writers are more clever than nonfiction writers. We don't say, "Here's my opinion of the way the world is." We present our idea of the world, whatever one we choose, in a form that's fun and non-threatening. The reader can say to herself, "I'll bet that's just the way (in my case) Scotland was back then," or dismiss it if it doesn't jibe with her view. "It's just a story." And if she got a few hours' diversion out of it, we both win.

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Comment by Clair Dickson on April 9, 2009 at 11:17am
Entertainment is important. Novels provide a form of entertainment. This prof may not look highly on it, but damn, some writers sure do make a nicer living writing novels than that professor could in a year of teaching. =)
Comment by Peg Herring on April 9, 2009 at 7:58am
Thanks, guys. I knew I could count on you!
Comment by B.R.Stateham on April 9, 2009 at 4:25am
Having been in the field of education of one form or another for a long time, I have to say most college professors live in a La La land all their own while in the public eye. And then they go home, pull down the shades, and pull out a Mike Hammer book.
Comment by Dana King on April 9, 2009 at 4:18am
I think you have the perfect attitude to stay on an even keel as a writer. We enjoy what we do, and other people enjoy reading it. We try to make it as realistic and informative as we can, so people who may not have known how somehting works, or about period of history, can take something extra away from it, but in the end we're telling stories, and the readers are our audience, happy--we hope--for the few hours they spent in the world we have created for them.
Comment by I. J. Parker on April 9, 2009 at 1:22am
Charles Dickens wrote fiction. Jane Austen wrote regency romance. The value judgment should be based on the book, not its genre.
Besides, a lot of university profs write genre novels in their spare time.

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