Okay, first an announcement. It sounds like I'll be facilitating the Writers Workshop at Penguicon in 09, along with the wonderful and award-winning Catherynne Valente (catvalente). Details will be forthcoming, but I'm looking forward to it. Cat's a very nice person, as well as being a great writer.
Now onto the meat of the discussion. One of the things I realized at GenCon last week is that on some level, I'm prejudiced. That there's a part of me that thinks of gaming fiction (Forgotten Realms, etc.) and other media tie-ins as somehow lesser than original fiction like my own.
I'm not happy with that realization. I'm not sure where that prejudice came from, but I'd like to finish eradicating it now, please. In part because I have a number of friends who write gaming tie-ins, such as brainstormfront and paulskemp, not to mention Ed Greenwood and Peter David and so on... And in part because, like so many prejudices, it's stupid. (eriksdb has a good entry about this today from his perspective as a gaming writer.)
So I'm trying to break down the roots of this prejudice. A part of it, I believe, comes from the idea that if I'm making up my own original world, I'm being more creative than someone who works in a pre-defined world. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. I'll point out that one of the things I heard again and again from folks at GenCon was that when they set out to write a new novel, the first thing they do is look for a blank area of the map so that they can make up their own part of the world. And heck, a lot of the gaming writers helped design and invent these worlds in the first place, usually in much more detail than I've ever done.
Maybe it's because I've read some bad tie-in books, gaming adventures where you could hear the dice rolling and watch the characters as they went up in level ... basically, a transcribed gaming session. But then, I've also read bad original novels, many of which I haven't been able to finish. Any genre has a range of quality. I've read some brilliant tie-in novels too. Many of Peter David's books come to mind. Tie-in doesn't equal crap any more than it equals brilliant, any more than any other genre automatically means the book is good or bad.
Digging deeper, I find -- to my utter disgust -- that on some level I feel as though original novels are somehow more artistic, more true to the integrity of the writer, more ... whatever. My books are art. Yours are work done for a paycheck. Oh sure, Tobias Buckell might go slumming with his Halo novel, but he's still a real writer at heart. Holy crap, someone please kick my ass now? This is bullshit, pure and unfiltered. I opened my second book with a nose-picking injury, and I'm judging other people's writing as not artistic enough? Seriously, someone needs to smack me.
Maybe it's just envy. After all, tie-ins get an awful lot of shelf space, whereas I've got maybe one book on the shelf if I'm lucky? Or maybe it's pure ego, wherein I secrety think I'm a better writer than everyone else, and this is one way to rationalize or justify that.
To my tie-in writing friends, I apologize. I hadn't realized this particular prejudice was there, but now that I do, I'll be doing my best to squelch it. The last thing this world needs is more genre writers bashing other genres.
One final note -- I'm sleepy, and I think I'm coming down with the kids' cold, so if I'm a little incoherent here you know why. ETA: This is also why I'm having a harder time keeping up with comments...
Please feel free to jump in and discuss. I'm curious to hear what other folks think, your experiences and attitudes toward various genres and subgenres. (Except for humorous fantasy. Everyone knows that stuff is crap!)