Katie(babs) pointed out an… infuriating blog post from a sci-fi writer named Cale McCaskey. (He was answering comments, which is where he really digs his hole deeper, but he has since decided to stop replying. So, check out his post but you won’t be able to engage at this point. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing at this point.)
On January 18, Cale made a post titled “The Problem with Romance Novels” and proceeded to denigrate the entire genre of romance. This, of course, made a lot of people on the internet angry. Quelle surprise!
Cale claims to be a “sexy, single white male with a really big, uh, wallet.” There is one claim in that list that I’d believe, and that’s the “single, white male” part.
But I digress.
For those who don’t want to give this guy more hits on his site, here’s a breakdown of what he’s saying.
1) Romance novels and authors demanding respect is similar to people demanding respect for finger paintings. Translation: it’s ridiculous.
2) Romance is responsible for the “almost 50%” illiteracy rate in this country. (Not sure where he’s getting his numbers- he didn’t source them, although throughout his post, he required others to reference all of THEIR claims. Just saying, is all.)
3) Romance writers do not deserve the same respect as “authors of much higher standing.” (It reads like he doesn’t think they deserve any respect at all.)
4) Romance novels are DESIGNED to be inferior.
5) Romance and love stories are things belonging to junior high school girls and should be left behind when girls become women. (I don’t even know. I mean, seriously? WTF?)
6) “If a romance story were that good, it would no longer be referred to as romance, but would instead simply be known as drama or literary fiction or a classic love story.” (*blinks*)
I tried to engage the guy in genial, polite discourse, and he stuck to his guns. Romance is for little kids, he seems to think. I was dismissed with a wave of the guy’s hand.
As an aside, I’m disturbed by this. Romance, with all the sexy times and serious emotional connections, are for kids? What does he think adults are doing when they date and get married, etc? Does he think it’s all rational, logical decisions based on cost analysis and future projections of wealth, or possibly a decision based on genetic compatibility alone? There is a reason this guy is single and I think this might be a big part of it.
He makes a big deal about Ivy League schools not treating romance as “real” literature, as well. He even goes so far as to research people that are mentioned in comments so he can discount their academic status (“He’s not a REAL Harvard professor, he’s just a guest lecturer,” blah, blah, blah). The pretention is just oozing off the page by the time you get to these comment replies. I think I threw up a little in my mouth.
I was really incensed for a bit, until I figured it out.
The dude is a troll.
Read that again and let it sink in.
THE DUDE IS A TROLL.
He’s not trolling someone’s blog in the comments, he’s trolling the entire romance/reading COMMUNITY in order to get traffic to his blog. He clearly needs it. The guy is at the same level that I am- he’s trying to get published, make a name for himself, but he hasn’t gotten there yet. He’s trying to build his readership, get some eyes to his blog to check him out. He’s not getting the kind of traffic that he wants (prob. because he’s pretentious and derogatory as shit, but that might just be me) so he’s decided to try something new.
He nukes the romance community from space (it’s the only way to be sure!!!) and watches the traffic to his site just skyrocket.
My guess? He’s seen what’s been happening with all of the reviewer vs. author stuff and knows that controversy will get you a lot of attention. And boy, is he getting it.
The problem with his plan, is that he looks like a total toolbox. Why? Because the people he’s drawn to his site are ROMANCE READERS who are not going to agree with him. And the more dismissive and condescending he gets with his comments, the less likely it is that these people are going to be swayed to his perspective.
Am I going to go back and read more of this guy’s stuff?
Not a chance in hell.
So, he gets a post with a ton of comments and a lot of traffic that isn’t, for the most part, going to last for him.
I’m sure he’ll get a few new followers, but let’s do a cost analysis on this. Will the value he gets from new readers outweigh the bad will that he’s engendering in other members of the reading/writing community? Is INFAMOUS preferable to famous?
The other question I keep asking myself is if he actually, true facts, believes the crap that he’s spouting. If he does, he may be in trouble. He gives me the impression that he is not a listener. He doesn’t hear what people are saying, because he’s so convinced that he’s right that he doesn’t need to bother.
This guy is going to have issues in the future. What if an editor or agent decides they want to pick up one of his books, but he needs to do some story editing? Is this the guy that’s going to be open to suggestions or is he going to argue over every little change and not bend at all?
He strikes me as the type of person that will self-publish if only because he thinks he knows better than the editorial professionals and doesn’t believe he needs to change anything in his manuscript.
Translation: the kind of guy to avoid when you’re clicking around amazon.com and come across his book.
I also imagine that he’s this way in his personal life, so he’s either going to have to find a woman who agrees with everything he says or who won’t say anything even if she doesn’t. Good luck with that, buddy.
Funny thing- I’ve been reading Chuck Wendig’s 500 Ways to be a Better Writer (which is totally worth the $2.99- you should all pick it up!) and I just read the bit where he talks about not being a “book racist.” In Wendig’s case, he’s talking about not denigrating other storytelling mediums, like TV or movies. However, I think his point can apply here as well.
There are those of us that are so sure that our medium is the only one that matters or that has value, and we are not afraid to express that opinion. This is true within each medium- look at the film world. The people who will argue the value of Speilberg vs. Tarintino, romantic comedies vs. indie dramas vs. sci-fi vs. blockbusters of all kinds.
Clearly, this guy is one of those who wants to place a value on each genre of books and rank them according to value to the world. But as I read over his comments, it makes me wonder what value he’s actually looking for in his literature. Whatever it is, it’s clear that he’s not truly willing to experiment or try new things. He’s already decided what he likes and what he doesn’t and isn’t willing to bend on that at all, which I believe is to his detriment as a writer of fiction.
There are many genres of books out there. Literature, with a capital ‘L’, westerns, mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, etc. To quote Wendig, “the storytelling cults can learn much from each other.” You won’t like everything you read, but you should never just write it off as a lesser form. You can learn something from everything.
Some of the best storytelling lessons I’ve learned have come from bad books, bad TV shows, and bad movies, or stories that I haven’t liked, even if I could agree that the writing was well done. If you can’t learn from what you engage in and encounter, then you may be missing a large part of what has kept humans on the top of the pile for so long. Adaptability.
I’ve learned a lot from his posts, point of fact, and I will be using the lessons I learned as I move forward, hopefully making myself a better writer and a better person.
But in the end, it all boils down to the fact that, no matter what he ACTUALLY believes or doesn’t, the guy is a troll and not worth worrying about.