Thursday, 29 May 2008


It is a sad fact that some writers are tossers. You get them in all walks of life and there is no reason why writing should be an exception. But there are tossers and there are tossers. There are some people you do not like, be it ‘chemistry’ or the fact they are a yob, but in the end you have to accept they do their job well. And then there are those who are complete arses and incompetent (and sadly there are all too many incompetent writers who seem to have no problem getting and staying in print). And finally there are those who are just plain nasty.

Particularly nasty are those writers who are successful, yet who cannot resist the temptation to put the boot into other writers, especially those who have yet to make it or who are struggling on the fringes. I have nothing but contempt for such people and would not cross the road to piss on them even if they were on fire.

And the reason for this outburst? Well, it bubbles under the surface all the time. A few years ago, I was astounded when a best selling author of children’s fantasy, in his position as head of a large organisation, had the gall to criticise writers for not being inventive and adventurous enough. I suspect he actually meant he couldn’t understand why more people didn’t write like him. Well, it’s because a lot of writers aspire to good writing, not derivative polemic. But that is beside the point. His criticism was aimed at authors. Well, excuse me, but how the hell does he know what gets written? All he can judge by is what gets published. And stuff only gets published on the say so of agents and publishers. Now, if you want to know how good they are, go into any bookshop and look at all the drivel that gets into print.

Granted, a lot of good stuff gets into print as well. There are thousands of writers out there who work their creative fingers to the bone to improve what they do. They talk with other writers, they read other writers, they learn how to critique their own and other’s work. They bust a gut to find the money to put food on the table and then spend every last spare minute on their craft and their art. Some people even attend creative writing classes so they can learn in a structured way in an attempt to improve what they do. They are professionals and feel they have a duty to the public who buy their books as well as to the profession as a whole.

Only to have the following utterly charmless comment thrown at them: “writing courses, particularly when they have the word ‘creative’ in them, are the new mental hospitals”. This from a writer who has not only made it, but who also teaches on a writing course. This is this rank hypocrisy; it is to treat your students, and anyone else striving to improve their work, with total contempt. If I was a student at that institute, I would demand he be sacked immediately and that teachers who care about their students are hired in his place.

It is petty, small-minded, infantile, and the mark of a shrivelled intellect to behave in this way, not to mention showing further contempt for people with mental health issues. This same author also once said: “The job of the writer is to create argument and dissent… That’s one’s integrity and it’s an integrity that involves letting other people down.” That, Mr K., is a whole lot of shit. And now it is leaking out of you, I suggest you go and get yourself into a nappy before it gets over anyone else.


Lane said...

Well said Graeme. What a tosser indeed.

This reminds me of the Zadie Smith/Willesden Herald debacle.

They should be ashamed of themselves instead of trying to dress up their hypocrisy with pseudo-intellectualisms.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Thank you. I wrote this yesterday and let myself cool down. But I felt just as angry this morning. I really do hope Kingston Uni take some sort of action (although they probably won't have the courage).