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Loved this, particularly the paragraphs with the cotton candy and Hersey's kiss metaphors and on jumping off the cliff.

Thank you. This is a great post.

"But any version of “this thing you’re attempting is not important enough/ought to actually be what I want you to attempt” is not something you need to listen to..."


*slow clap*

Well said. And thank you.

Obviously, it's silly to disagree with the idea that writers should write what they like, and do it well, but this reads to me like a very long defense of eating meat and dairy, or voting for the Democrats or Republicans, to name two things that 98 percent of adults who eat/vote already do. Outside of a few short story markets and then only occasionally, where are all these burners? They're not acquiring novels that get into stores, or publishing short stories that win Hugos or get reprinted in various best-of annuals. So, where's the fire, the bystander said to the people rushing down the street.

Also, some of the best work of women, PoC, etc. do the work of burning genres down. Once upon a time, it was considered crucial that this happen. WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO... Is a classic example in SF.

There aren't really that many fires, I agree. I never said there actually were--I was reacting to one particular person saying that any thoughtful SF writer ought to set such fires. I wasn't writing about an epidemic of such calls for arson, I was reacting to a specific conversation. Which is another point I might have made, that some of the folks I've heard talk about burning things down actually don't, or not that much

And I'm not protesting burning things down, or saying one shouldn't. It can be a crucial way to approach some problems, as you point out. I agree with you. I just have a bad reaction to being told that writers ought to approach writing in a particular way. Or, frankly, that the genre ought to burn because one particular person doesn't think many of the stories in years best anthos were all that good this year--which was part of the context for the conversation. I haven't read any of this year's YB anthos, but I'm sure they're about the same as usual--some I love, many I go, "Hmm, really?" The variance between my taste and Gardner Dozois' doesn't generally inspire rage in me. Other things incidental to that, sure, but not quite in that way.

And as much as women and POC and LGBTQ writers have done great work burning genre down, it's also easy enough to dismiss the work of those same writers as not actually very interesting. Dreary, even. No fire at all. So I don't trust everyone calling for the burning down of genre to actually mean burning things that particular way, not without more clarification. And it's also why I object to the idea that the only way to do any good is to burn things down. If that makes sense.

Sure, but this sort of discussion isn't an unusual one at all, all over fiction. See any number of discussions about sympathetic protagonists, or Egan v. Wiener etc etc. And often enough, people step forward to defend the hegemonic majority. My point is only to ask why it needs defending, given that it is a hegemonic majority. If the answer is it doesn't but that you just don't like being told what to do, that's great. I'll just ask someone else next time around.

May I ask who the participants were, in the Twitter convo?

Jason Sanford was the person who made the "burn it down" statement. Which started the conversation.

My point is only to ask why it needs defending, given that it is a hegemonic majority.

If "burn it down" is being used in the service of a hegemonic majority (or, say, if "If SF in the late Seventies was confused, self-involved, and stale, it was scarcely a cause for wonder" is the way someone would summarize a time that included works like We Who Are About to..., as if nothing interesting had happened during that period and it all needed sweeping away and replacing with something better) then I oppose it.

Now, Jason clarified that wasn't what he meant, but it started me thinking about the ways that statements like that can exclude works, and writers. Perhaps not terribly elegantly, but there it is.

By the way, your kiddo is adorable. But you knew that.

Now that's funny. Sanford's a lot of things, but avant he ain't. Nevermind, and carry on!

Re: baby, thanks!

When I get a class of would-be novelists I don't tell them one method of achieving their goals. I teach them to learn about themselves as writers, so that they can make the right decisions for themselves and create the novels they want to. Some need confrontation (the burning, or anger against events or people), while some need the skills to tackle commercial fiction. Others need to understand the shape of their dreams and if there's a genre that will hold them or if they have to invent something new and test boundaries. All the best writers I know have a remarkably deep understanding of themselves and of why they write and of what markets they're writing for.

This is a variant of what you're saying, I think, that there is no one path and no simple path and that basic dicta applied to all will lead many writers astray.

Agreed with this 1000%.

Thank you for being thoughtful and sensible, as always.

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