Couple of thinky things
1) Ursula Vernon is pissed, and with good reason.
My thoughts on the matter? I believe that no one should constrict or constrain an artist to produce something. This puts me at odds with the publishing industry, somewhat, in that they seem to believe they can contract people to produce a specific product, exactly to their outline (romance industry, I'm looking at you). This isn't completely constraining, though; a writer has to have a certain amount of enthusiasm for the project in order to contract to create it. Writing to prompts is also different, as a prompt will give you an opening, but will not tell you what to write.
On the other hand, I can sort of see where the email writer comes in. Not as regards Billy Collins, of course; he's one of my favorite poets and I find him very accessible. However, throughout my academic career, poetry has had to mean something, and it's usually a meaning completely opposite to what was given. This sort of analytic reading of poetry drives me batty. It implies that for a poem to be a "good" poem, it must be either entirely metaphorical or entirely inaccessible (T. S. Eliot, the Wasteland, I'm looking at you!). Now, most poets don't believe this. See, Billy Collins, Paul Zarzyski, even T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Academics, though, certainly do.
Newsflash, academics: just because something's fun to read doesn't mean it's automatically trash.
So it seems to me that this is more a problem of how we read than of how we write. If we cannot enjoy something, we tend to say that it sucks and throw it away. Okay, fine, whatever, you're not constraining the author at all, you're simply exercising your right as the audience to ignore them. However, when you then say that because you don't like it, nobody else can because it's trash, and the author must immediately change their ways, then it becomes a problem.
2) Sherwood Smith, on writing and memory
For me, the books that bring back my childhood most clearly are The Neverending Story, the Hobbit, and Tamora Pierce, most especially her Alanna series. I can remember sitting on my bed, curled up around my teddy bear, reading with absolute amazement. The idea that somewhere there were people that dreamed just like me was such an irresistable one. I remember being absolutely stunned that people could dream like that, the same way I did. Up until then, I thought I was alone. I think that's when words became my friends. The Neverending Story in particular made me feel as if I could quite happily spend the rest of my life stuck in a book.
I've never lost that feeling, not really. You may have noticed. :D
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