Monday 26 April 2010

A classless society? Not if you’re a writer

There was a time when you could tell which class someone belonged to by the cut of their clothes. Now we all shop at the same stores. Even designer label outifts look similar to High Street copies. Holidays in hot climes are available to all and eating out is no longer a reserve of the rich and sophisticated few. It’s true that cars still give a hint of a person’s buying power but I’ve never experienced snobbery attached to car ownership.

So have we finally achieved that utopian dream of the classless society?

I don’t think so!

As a writer in the UK I am continually being made aware of my place in the industry. For a number of years I wrote short stories for women’s magazines. There were times when fellow writers would imply that this was a lesser form of writing. I often challenged them to give it a try. They never did. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Shortly after my picture book, Bathtime Rap, was published, someone made the inevitable comment about how I should now move on to writing proper books for adults. Writing for children is not an apprenticeship for the real thing. It is the real thing.

What is it with writers? Why is light romance not deemed to be as worthy as a literary tome, especially as the romantic novel often brings more pleasure to more people? There’s no point in writing if it’s not to bring pleasure or enlightenment... which brings me to blogging and its standing in the literary world. Opinions are definitely mixed.

I met an old writing friend the other day. She asked me if I was managing to get much writing done at the moment, what with my husband being on chemotherapy and my son and daughter-in-law having a new baby. I said that yes, I was keeping the writing discipline going especially as I now had a blog. I explained that regular postings are all part of writing a blog but the expression on her face made me feel as if I had admitted to child abuse. She grunted and turned to talk to someone else. I was a blogger. I was a lesser writer.

Inevitably all those of you reading this will understand what a blog is and will be enjoying it... hopefully, but how can we educate those who don’t know a blog from a blag? I’ve learnt a lot by reading other people’s blogs, especially those with advice for writers. I’ve also got a lot of enjoyment from blogs. There are funny ones, thoughtful ones and ones that make you say, ‘Yes, I’ve been there and I know exactly how you’re feeling.’ So I’m sorry for those people who think that blogs are beneath them. They are the losers for sure.

Does this sort of class distinction exist in other professions or is it just writers?