I don't normally post links, but this one, well I couldn't resist. Governor Pat McCrory's response to the North Carolina Arts Council -- he said Wednesday, he seeks to give opportunities to those who aren't part of "elite groups." Wow, what a politician, to actually speak candidly, especially against those special people who feel they 'know' all there is to know about creativity and quality. They have degrees to wave in people's faces to prove that they are special. How dare some commoner without their enlightenment, seek to enter their esteemed realm of importance. Who cares if the woman produces quality work, if she has the passion to learn and improve and create beautiful poetry. She was not christened by the educated elitists so she does not matter.
This is a particular issue with me, since I've noticed more and more that a excellent writer of common origins is a pipe dream. We no longer will have the opportunity to read works written by individuals who do not have the proper credentials if the traditional publishers have anything to say on the matter. If a person is not a college educated professional in the subject matter they are writing on, or indebted for the rest of their lives to get that piece of paper proclaiming that they have been bestowed with a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, there is no place for them. Well that's not totally true, Harlequin is still open if you can insert enough sex scenes involving wealthy, buff, tragic males with insipid women who only fall in love with wealthy, buff, tragic males.
There is a great selection of works from these people anointed by the cultural standards of degrees or hobnobbing with the right people, so we still have great reading. But I also know that the agents care as much about credentials as the quality of work when the queries come in. The idea that a person's desire and passion to write might have led them to seek ways of improving, through classes, reading, workshops, reading, research, reading, is no longer enough. For all that we claim we are more open minded and less judgmental, the notion falls flat in the face of reality. Open mindedness is limited by the desire of certain self-important gate keepers to decide whom they find acceptable. Oh maybe if you can come up with a plausible story of doom and claim your book is non-fiction, you might generate some notice. If they discover its not really true, it isn't likely to be too devastating as long as it generates enough pity. Every once in awhile, it backfires spectacularly, however.
Yet if a story was well written, and told from the viewpoint as if the person was personally involved -- sort of the non-fiction, fictional thing, it wouldn't get the least bit of attention without the lie about it being true. One cannot claim that their work is based on reality, if they don't have the degree or the personal history, no matter how great the story might be. It just cannot be because commoners are not capable of quality work in the elite view of 'art'. It's a little discouraging to discover that no matter how hard a person works to master the craft of writing, they will never be considered as good as the anointed ones.
I suppose from my viewpoint, that is why I cannot condemn Amazon against the Big Publishers over their price wars. Perhaps the publishers have a righteous argument with Amazon, but I cannot feel sorry for them when I know they probably wouldn't give me the time of day to take a look at any of my work. I am not in the proper alignment of the special people who decide if my work has potential. They have no need to lower themselves to look at work from a non-entity that doesn't come with the blessing of the cultural dictators who decide the acceptability standards of the creative writer of fiction. At least Amazon has provided an outlet, imperfect though it may be, so that writers can give readers a chance to decide what exactly constitutes quality.
So for the moment, I take the time to applaud the audacity of the Governor of North Carolina, Mr Pat McCrory, for giving a little respect to a writer for the quality of their work as opposed to the credentialed crowning by the superior minds of the educated snobbery of the Arts Council. Someone, someday had to say that people can produce quality work, even without the degrees or connections, rather consigning them to second class status merely because they failed to meet the lofty rules of acceptance.