In particular, I’ve realized the enormous differences that exist between the Italian and the English-speaking publishing, which includes all English-speaking countries, and how different the approach of the web is towards it. I’m talking about those which are generically called literary blogs, i.e. blogs that talk about writing, novels, authors, publishing and everything that orbits the literature.
In this scope you can see in my opinion the most obvious differences, not only in the subjects, but also in the way in which they are addressed.
This matter, however, would be too long, so in this post I want to dwell on one of these topics: the new or aspiring published authors, i.e. those writers who have published (also self-published) their first book or are trying to do so.
Reading articles about them, we note first of all that among the Italian bloggers is a widespread tendency to look at them a little from above.
These bloggers look with suspicion at people that approach publishing, already assuming that they don’t have any experience, they are arrogant, they don’t have any kind of talent (especially if they are independent authors), who wrote only that one published (or intended to publish) book and maybe they don’t even know grammar or syntax.
In short, we find ourselves facing a bunch of prejudices.
It is always true that what is unknown is often frowned upon or viewed with suspicion, but sometimes that attitude is objectively exaggerated.
Not to mention the unseemly habit of calling the authors who have not yet (been) published with the unfortunate phrase “aspiring writers”, which I find derogatory, as if to say that it is people who don’t write, but think of doing it sooner or later.
Let’s clear this: you do not become writers overnight. It’s not that one day you wake up and aspires to become a writer, then the next day you start writing. It does not work that way.
We all learn to write as children and some of us, without even realizing it, sooner or later begin to write stories. Others do not. There’s a fact. There is no moment in life in which we aspire to write stories. We simply begin to do it, or not.
Who does it is a writer, who doesn’t do it is not a writer.
The aspiring writer does not exist. There is to be a writer or not.
Rather, you can aspire to be an author in the sense of wanting to complete a writing work. Actually, it is relatively easy to start to write something, it is less to finish it. But when you complete the writing of the first story, or the first novel, or the first script etc ... in fact you become an author.
At this point you may be at most an aspiring published author.
Therefore, alluding to a non-published author with the phrase “aspiring writer” is in my opinion quite offensive, because it seems that you think this person does not write at all, but has only the desire (dream?) to do it, maybe to become famous. But if a person doesn’t write regularly, without any doubt they cannot be a good writer when they decide to do so, because they don’t have the experience.
But a would-be published author, as well as the new author (at their first publication), is anything but a person with no experience.
Surely that novel (published or not) is not the only thing they have written. They probably wrote others, as well as short stories, fan fiction, poetry, and many other things, many of which are maybe bad (the first ones), other better. Behind a new author is a whole world of writing, which perhaps dates back to their adolescence or even before, there are a thousand experiments and attempts, all of which constitute their experience in the field of writing, something that should not be underestimated in any way.
If, after all this, they decide to try the publication of a novel, it is because that’s the culmination of the work done in recent years, fuelled by their passion for the written word. They may still be far from perfect (no doubt), but it is impossible that we are dealing with people who don’t discreetly know the Italian language. And this is already something.
Therefore I say they deserve respect.
Unfortunately what I often see is the attempt by certain “critics” to throw a spanner in the works of this kind of authors. If they have published something, those bloggers are constantly hair-splitters, they try to highlight the flaws, instead of focusing on the positive aspects of the work.
Instead, while addressing anyone who has not yet published (and in this case I am referring to generic articles addressed to “aspiring writers”) they insist on reminding these authors that writing well is difficult, indeed almost impossible, that it is strenuous, that they are not really familiar with the grammar (?), that there are a thousand of thousands of style rules that must be followed, that after writing the first draft they have very little to be happy, because it definitely sucks ... and so on.
In both cases they seek in every way to discourage the writer.
At this point the question arises: why this obstinacy?
The answers could be many. Maybe it’s because these people have fun to criticize others (which is typical of Italians, I’m afraid). Or because they know by heart what you shouldn’t do when writing, but have no idea of what needs to be done (unless, perhaps, they too would write novels and not reviews, wouldn’t they?). Or because, being new or aspiring authors themselves, they feel threatened by the competition? Maybe. Or still they are authors disappointed or deluded by publishing in general so that they cannot help but discourage others to take the same road (like: take up knitting, maybe you have more hopes, or: I haven’t made it and I don’t want that you do).
Surely everyone has their (more or less acceptable) motivation, but certainly they do not help the writers who read them. This annoys them, at best. At worst, it discourages them.
It’s a bit as if to a child, showing you his drawing, you said, “But what is this thing? Do not do this! You’re not really able to draw!”, instead of saying “Bravo!”, that is, appreciating the effort of a person who is growing, avoiding to nip in the bud a passion that could become important to him and especially encouraging him to improve.
Of course I’m talking about writers who can write in correct Italian, and that if they make mistakes, they’re just stumbled on some typos. In all this talk I don’t even take into account those who have some big issues in grammar and syntax and not even realize that.
Just to be clear, I’m not writing this post because I’ve been criticised by any blogger. Actually it’s all the contrary. Moreover, after four best selling self-published books I can hardly describe myself as “new”, not even for my age, sadly. But, anyway, it happened to me to read a lot of sad blogs. And I’m really sorry to notice this problem on Italian blogs, because I love my country and I love being Italian (though not as much as being Sardinian).
Now, in this regard, moving to the English-speaking area, the differences are immediately noticeable. The so-called literary blogs, first of all, are almost always held by authors, that is, people who write books and writers who want to share with others what they have learned from their experience. The aim is obviously to be known and to be appreciated, to find new readers and sell more books. It’s understandable.
The result, however, is not only pleasant but also useful.
These blogs are inexhaustible sources of inspiration to learn more about all aspects of writing, both in terms of the word itself (so the style) that the real ability to tell stories, that is the narrative structure. By reading these articles you really learn a lot of things, even if you write in a different language (like me).
Beyond the exceptions, which exists (thank goodness), my question is: why this difference between the Italian and the English-speaking web?
Honestly I’m still trying to figure it out, but I certainly know which of the two I prefer to refer to.
A previous version of this article has been originally published in Italian on Anakina.net.