Celebrity Shock

As I scanned through the last quarter’s worth of the Writer magazine (yes, scanning…somehow I was supposed to have free time now…) I noticed that many of the author credits had a phrase like “An award winning essayist and short-story writer” or “Their novel was selected as one of the year’s best by [a local newspaper].”

Which made me realize something (aside from the first phrase insinuating but not stating that the short stories won awards).

I am an award-winning essayist, an award-winning poet, and an award-winning short story writer. But that gives me no special authority to tell you squat about writing. I’ve gotten – and eagerly absorbed – a lot of writing advice. Some of it works for me. Some hasn’t. Some I’ve simply not tried yet. Some “exercises” have left me cold even though they sounded wonderful, others that had seemed stupid left me sweating and spent after a mad rush of prose flowed onto the keyboard. It doesn’t matter who gave the advice or lessons so much as the content therein.

I think this is a generalizable thing. Credentials aren’t a guarantee of quality, even though we treat them that way. I’m not sure how we could replace them, even in something more empirical than writing, let alone in the arts.

In the meantime, I will take in the content, and use what works and discard the rest. I urge you to do the same.

(This blog post was written by an award-winning author!!!!!1!11!!)

One thought on “Celebrity Shock

  1. Yep. Context is everything. “Bestselling” in an obscure Amazon subcategory is so far from “Bestselling” on the New York Times list.

    I can understand the urge. Heck, I think I put “award-winning author” on a booksigning flyer I just put together. But like you said, a lot of it just doesn’t mean all that much.

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