If I had to describe myself, it would be in a word that has many meanings with a complexity which falls off the tongue.
A word made up of many elements, is deceptive in appearance, and creates an illusion from the imagination.
My word would be Phantasmagoric. ~Summer Ross

Friday, October 8, 2010

Writing Prestige

I have an interesting topic today, one I hope I will hear lots of input on: The Prestige of writing.

 A little back ground first folks- Are we all familiar with Poets like Keats and Lord Byron? If you are not now would be a good time for a look up. here's the link for Lord Byron

Now little things to take into account- Lord Byron was a very pushy fellow- He pushed boundaries in society, walked his own way, and used that to push all the boundaries he could in writing.

He was very much into affairs, money, and was abused sexually as a child. However today this man is almost revered in our writing world as well as many many others.

 Now here comes the prestige- Did you know poets and such back in Byrons time actually looked down upon those who received payment for their work, their "art"?

 They believed that if a person received payment for their work then it wasn't created naturally but created out of what someone else wanted. If they talked about some one receiving payments- it was a low blow and to make it worse- they put it into poems and labeled them less than the poet who wrote about the other person.
Lord Byron was one of the first to really turn these tables.

Critiques and reviewers had such a high impact on a writers reputation. One of these reviewers from the "Scottish Review" Tore apart Byron's work and he retaliated labeling the critique lower than Byron by talking about how he was "paid" to write for the review. Thus turning tables from the critique having the power- to the Writer having the power.

Now today- we shell out hundreds of dollars to get these works of the old...sometimes antique wise, sometimes education wise, and sometimes just because we want it. What do you think this says about us now? Even as writers- do we still have our "Prestige" or have we sold our selves out? or has our culture just made getting paid acceptable now? Is the power struggle still continuing between critique and writer?
Looking forward to all of your thoughts on this.


Carolyn V. said...

I think there is a prestige to writing. Even when we get paid. I am always surprised at the reactions I get when I tell people I'm a writer. It's always positive. =)

Elle Strauss said...

Great question, and great post! I think the pendulum has swung the other way, with the higher paid writers getting the most prestige.

btw- thanks for the heads up on my blogfest link. It's working now.

Summer Ross said...

Carolyn V~ When I tell people I'm a writer here in Wyoming I get an air of indifference or a look like I should be doing something else- or my dad telling me I should try to be more. LOL But I do agree that even getting paid there is still a certain air of prestige about being a paid writer.

Elle~ I'm glad its working, I'll go back and look at it.

What a great point- the higher paid gets the higher prestige. Thanks for pointing that out- an interesting way to look at it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think there's prestige in both.
Of course, not much prestige in being a writer who can't sell a thing!
Our world definitely views things different now.

Summer Ross said...

Alex~ In both huh, paid and not paid- I could see that, and true our world has changed a great deal. Hopefully for the better...time will tell. It makes me curious what people will say about our time later in the future

N. R. Williams said...

In Byron's day, those who had the time to write where usually nobles or wealthy. They lived by a different standard. Today, we view our talents as something everyone can participate in and develop and therefore receive payment for. I have a scene in my fantasy novel about this when my heroine tells the prince she can be paid to play her flute and he says, "You would turn your talent into a thing of ridicule." Her response is. "I am not ashamed to make my living playing my flute and if that demises it's value for you, to bad."

He is from a medieval society and she is a modern American.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Francine said...


Easy for Byron to say art before money!

Thing was, though, he eagerly received monies for poetry because he was often in debt up to his eyeballs, then he struck lucky, lucky!!!

Another great poet and lampoonist was John Wilmot Lord Rochester (2nd) - some of his works were considered to be pornographic by the Puritan Brethren of the 1700s. Not so surprising as he was a King's man, therefore thought of as born of Satan!

As for today's society the more one has the more one wants, and good grief just look what celebrities will do to keep themselves in the public domain! And God knows, a celeb biography (several usually) before they're thirty is a complete joke, the fools the ones who buy the books. ;)


Carol Kilgore said...

Glad you're back!

I think the prestige now goes to those who make oodles of money. But to get there, first and foremost we must write for ourselves. If we don't do that, we can't reach the point of writing for others.

Summer Ross said...

N.R.~ What a wonderful line to have in your story! I love it. And I agree with it.

Francine~ Your right it is a joke what celebs do to get the spotlight and true enough- I have never bought a celeb book- I find them rather ridicules.

Carol- Nice point!

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Unfortunately, the Presitge is sitting behind an agent's desk with a magic wand in one hand and a ball of fire in the other.

The masses who are not Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, etc., are starving artists, maybe we belong back in Byron's time where people thought we offered something of value other than money.

Old Kitty said...

Oh if only we could just be artists for the aesthetic value! But such is real life that it's always nicer to be able to earn something too. I think you lose none of the prestige if someone wants to pay for your art. But you lose a little bit maybe if you allow your art to be exploited. Does that makes sense? I hope so!

Take care

RaShelle said...

Hi Summer - I know some artists who still feel their work is "better" if it's done for love and not $$$. I think a part of them is afraid of the judgements. These days, sadly, prestige is all about recognition ($$$). If you're a writer who's been published, but isn't selling, there isn't prestige in that. Maybe a little. =D

Angie said...

That's really interesting. I love Lord Byron. I think nowdays we give more prestige to those who make more money. There is a certain coolness to being a writer anyway. :)

Lynda Young said...

It's all changed now. Getting paid now means recognition and acceptance for our work.

L'Aussie said...

Ah, well, at least I haven't sold myself short, ha ha. Yes, writing was a very upper class pursuit once, now it's very democratic. To get paid is really something!!

Ellie said...

Interesting post and questions. When I tell people I'm a writer they are either indifferent or seem to elevate me to a new loftier position. One thing I'm determined not to do is to sell myself out!

Clarissa Draper said...

I don't really have an answer to this question. I try to write for money because someday I may have to support myself but I think yes, there is some prestige with the art of writing.


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