May 18 2006
Ms. Kinsale has went on to clarify that her post was more about differentiating books from a service industry. To some degree I agree with her, but the whole discussion raise an interesting point for me as to what is art. Ms. Kinsale’s argues books should not be subject to the whims of the market because to allow your writing to be controlled in such a manner reduces the writer’s ability to be brilliant, original, and creative. (am paraphrasing here, of course). And that the creative process of writing is art. To extrapolate further, the end product of the creative process is art. The book is art.
Art is such a difficult term to use because I think it is hard to define. Kinsale starts with the premise that art of fiction deserves respect. I don’t really have a good definition for art, but the theorum that Kinsale presents has problems because the first statement in the hypothesis is not an absolute truth.
a) all fiction is art
b) all art deserves respect
c) all fiction deserves respect
Would that include fan fics or any other fictional piece of work (what about Opal Mehta)? Or is it just published fiction that is art? Does that include any ebook or self published work? Or is it just NY Published books that are art? So then it is NY who decides what is art? Awful conclusion.
Where does that leave us? Imo, it’s all in the eye of the beholder as to what is art and what is respect. (as even acknowledged by Ms. Kinsale in a response “Only the person writing the review or making the comment can answer for themselves.”) There can be no consenus as to what is art because it is about point of view. The famous saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” isn’t famous for nothing. That statement is a universal truth.
We could debate for hours about what is art and what is respect but I think that something all readers and all authors can agree on is that we love the written word. I love to read it. Authors love to use it to tell the story. We readers want authors to write the best story in them, in whatever way that they can. But we aren’t responsible for an author’s actions that diminishes that ability. I.e., if reviews (snarky or no) kill you and your creative process, you must rise above the compulsion to read reviews. If reader comments that are negative are harmful to you and limit your vision, don’t go to places where negative comments are likely to appear. As Ms. Kinsale says “If I have to protect it from readers, I will protect it, viciously.”
Please do so. It’s what the readers want too.