On “lowering your standards”

I should be spending my time writing and not reading crappy comments people put up on author’s forums.  But, you know.  I should also quit drinking so much Coke and not eat as much chocolate as I do.  (Although, those are at least enjoyable vices…)

Anyway.  In the thread that’s already annoyed me once, I saw some comment today about how the people having this discussion were so much better than the best-selling artists that they were supposedly not bashing because they hadn’t lowered their standards to pander to the masses.

I’m paraphrasing, but accurately I believe.

Look.  There are a bunch of smart people in this world.  People who walk into a room and understand more and know more than anyone else in the room.  They get things that take hours for others to understand.  They’re brilliant.  They’re well-informed.  Blah blah blah.

Bully for them.

Amongst this group are certain people who are, for lack of a better term, pretentious asses.  I call them this because they take their superiority to others and they wear it with pride like some bizarre merit badge.  “I am superior to all of you.”  Generally followed by some comment about, “It’s whom, not who” and a delicate sniff.

Here’s the deal (for these pretentious asses):  You are the minority.  By definition, you are one in a very small pool.  And, generally, unless you place yourself in some enclave of the educated, you will spend the majority of your life with people who are not up to your standard.

So, here’s my challenge to these superior types who want to write (and make a living at it):  If you are in fact so vastly more intelligent than the unwashed masses (I do believe one person went so far as to use the term hoi polloi.  Because, you know, citing Greek terms puts you into the stratosphere of the elitist), then you should be able to find a way to communicate your brilliant ideas in a way that can be absorbed by those “below you.”

Learning to function in the world that you exist in is not “lowering your standards.”  It’s using your intelligence to effectively survive your present environment.

You’re not brilliant if you can’t find a way to communicate your understanding with those around you.  And in a way that gets them to act in line with what you tell them.  (Because, I’ll tell you a secret, if you’re a big enough ass they won’t care that you’re right, they’ll do something different just to fuck with you.)

(As a side note…I know at some point I have been the arrogant ass who didn’t have the patience for others who didn’t understand what I did.  A certain e-mail I once sent comes to mind…So I can say from personal experience that it’s not an effective strategy to be that person.)

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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2 Responses to On “lowering your standards”

  1. Keri Peardon says:

    I’m sure I’ll feel very inferior one day when I’m chilling in my indoor swimming pool, thinking up plot lines for penny dreadful romance books, while my live-in housekeeper makes my lunch and does my laundry.

    I saw a YouTube video some months ago by a famous musician who put the smack down on people who constantly say, “He/they sold out.”

    What does that mean? he asked. Does success equate with selling out? You know what, you don’t work for free; why do you think artists are only “real” if they’re making less than minimum wage for their labor? You know what? I do this for my living. It’s my job. This is what puts food on my table and my kids through college. I didn’t become a musician to be poor and obscure for the rest of my life; I did it because I wanted to reach as many people as possible and to support myself. So quit whining about people “selling out” when they get successful. See how you like working for nothing.

    • mhleewriter says:

      John Scalzi had a blog post about that, too, recently. That his goal is to make money at writing and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      I may enjoy the process of writing, but at the end of the day, I’d like to actually make a living at it. And that means appealing to more people than the “upper crust.”

      Plus I once lived in a trailer park, so I’m not their kind anyway. Automatic disqualification I believe. 🙂

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