Peanuts vs. Caviar

"Those big-shot writers ... could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar."
-- Mickey Spillane, from The Making of a Bestseller: From Author to Reader by Arthur T. Vanderbilt

I stumbled across this quote last night on Twitter, and it got me to thinking once again about the longstanding rivalry between writers who perceive themselves on opposite sides of the dividing line between art and commerce. To my mind, it's a ridiculous distinction, steeped more in the human desire to feel superior to someone else than anything worth fussing over. And I'm very aware that the antipathy (whether it's snobbism or reverse-snobbism) runs in both direction.

If you're growing peanuts (I was going to say "writing for peanuts," but alas, that's all too common in both literary and commercial fiction camps) and you've put time and love and thoughtful effort into raising, harvesting, and roasting the very best goobers you can, no one should be dissing you because people love them so much, they often gobble without tasting.

Likewise, if you have a taste for caviar and enjoy bringing it to an appreciative group of palates, what possible business do the peanut farmers have telling you that you're doing things all wrong?

We writers have bigger issues, don't we? Modern book piracy and e-royalty rates, shrinking shelf space for all but the biggest mega-sellers and increased competition from entertainment alternatives. Every one of these poses a challenge we can impact if we work together instead of pulling ourselves apart.

So here's to both the peanuts and caviar of the writing world. They may not really go together, but both offer food for thought.

Comments

Joni Rodgers said…
I'd like to think I'm somewhere between caviar and peanut.

I think I'm capers.
Mylène said…
Colleen: Yes! Joni: HA!

Me: A bit tough to cut into, but (fingers crossed) sweet inside, and worth the effort.

A watermelon.
I'll play. I'm picking a big, juicy organic bison burger. Classic deliciousness with a hint of health about it.

And don't forget the pickles! And a hint of jalapeno for spice.
Sigh. I don't know what I am. If I were a wine, I think I'd be a moderately priced Shiraz. But food--gosh, I don't know. Maybe a dark, rich chocolate? More expensive than the Hershey's, but still darned tasty when consumed in small doses? ;)
And definitely not as posh as caviar. ;)

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