The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

What the hell are these important writers talking about?

I read an interview with a bestselling author this morning and found several things I agreed with. Truth be told, none of those things had occurred to me before, and I wondered why not. I don’t know whether I agree with the other things she said, because the only thing that came to mind was “what the hell is she talking about?”

This graphic is clip art. Any resemblance to actual bestselling authors is coincidental.

This graphic is clip art. Any resemblance to actual bestselling authors is coincidental.

No offense to Literary Hub, but you can find a lot of articles in their daily roundup that are filled with writing discussions and theories that seem to come from another world. At first, I wrote all those theories and ideas off as MFA-speak, an artificial language that’s picked up at colleges that purport to teach people how to be creative in ways that make money and look like all the prolific writers of recent years. (I hope I don’t sound biased here.)

But then, I read the same kind of particle-physics-style answers to interviewer questions from authors who didn’t get an MFA. They sounded like they had MFAs or that they wrote doctoral dissertations about obscure semantics theories and afterwards were just plain stuck and had to keep talking like the worst of scholarly writing.

Did I miss the memo? Are there secret covens across the country that teach writers how to sound important, scholarly, progressive and world changing? Or, perhaps it’s a conspiracy controlled by dead scholars who take over the minds of normal writers (that might be an oxymoron) and turn them into uber-literary morons.

Source of MFA-speak?

True source of MFA-speak?

Do you find yourself wondering what the hell those important writers are talking about?

The interviewers and critics seem to know because whenever an important writer answers a question with a stunningly obtuse pronouncement, the interviewers/critics say, “Yes, exactly,” and then pose follow-up questions that sound like they required an understanding of the previous answer before they could be posed.”

Maybe all these people are posing. Or, maybe it’s just me.

Or, is it you as well?

What alarms me is this: The interviewed authors who sound like they’re talking about particle physics are being interviewed because they have written bestselling books. Trust me on this, if any of that interview talk was in those books, those books wouldn’t have sold to anyone. So, they know how to turn it off when they write fiction.

So, just what’s all this highfalutin talk about? As a former journalist, I need somebody to translate all these important writer responses into everyday language that the rest of us can understand. I don’t want to talk or write like that, but on the off-chance all those words aren’t gibberish, it would be nice to know what the conversations are about.

Otherwise, it’s Greek to me.




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