Recently, I read a newspaper article that saddened my heart. The journalist spoke about writers disparaging other writers, and though I loathe to admit it, I know from experience that we writers can be rather snobbish. The hierarchies we mentally – and even verbally – hold vary, but they exist nonetheless. Some place prose over poetry. Others argue that poetry is more sublime than prose. For most, a published book is deemed more impressive than authoring an article in a magazine. The monetary benefits for creative fiction frequently overshadow the notable awards given for nonfiction. Many don’t consider romance novels “good literature” while some spurn the classics as outdated and undesirable. A few would never write for a newspaper; others believe journalism hones writing skills the best. Self-published books are not given the same regard as traditionally published stories.
The list continues, because inherent among writers seems to be the need to prove the worth of our particular genre or style of writing. While this is understandable, it can be detrimental to the community of writers as a whole. Writing is a sensitive endeavor. Like plants which need good soil, watering and sunshine, writers need nurturing so the creative desires we possess can come to the forefront and produce stories and essays and poems and commercial ads and songs and newspaper articles and more. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian novelist, once said, “I believe that world literature has it in its power to help mankind, in these its troubled hours, to see itself as it really is, notwithstanding the indoctrinations of prejudiced people and parties.” Writers and what we write – no matter what it is we write – have the power to impact the world around us.
Little children learn about character through stories we share. Adults wrestle with politics, war, and famine through the articles we pen. Teenagers discover their selves through songs written about joy and heartbreak and love and life. People turn to poetry when they cannot find words of their own. Novels – of all genres – provide respite for some, inspiration for others, and entertainment for all. Historical essays help us ponder our past and therefore our future. Ads on the train make us question and think. What we write can be pervasive, and as writers our goal should always be to encourage one another, not disparage.
Paula Castner is a mother of three and a co-founder of Seven Bridge Writers' Collaborative as well as a freelance writer, writing and baking workshop facilitator, and drama director. She receives emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.