Friday, July 24, 2015

Random Rantings: On Authorial Narcissism, Terry Goodkind, and Things You Just Shouldn't Say Ever

Soooo, yeah, I realize that I haven't posted much in a while, and that I'm long overdue for both a new book review. I know that I've made and broken this promise before, but I can assure you that there will be one by next week. Somehow, I will make it happen. I do honestly feel bad for being such an inactive blogger this summer, but perhaps my inactivity has as much to do with resenting my decision to do "self-pub summer" and challenge myself to read one book per week as it does with actually being very busy outside of blogging. I've been stuck on the same book for many weeks longer than I should have been, and find it hard not to shift a good portion of the blame onto my extreme disappointment with it. Going in I thought it was going to be great, and at first it was a welcome relief after Blood Price, but even though it's not super terrible I'm finding it terribly difficult to soldier on through my disappointment and finish the damn thing. I don't know, maybe I'm just complaining for complaining's sake. But this is a rant, after all, so isn't the point to complain?

Suuuure you do. I know you all secretly love to hear me complain. 

But the point of this mini-rant isn't to moan about the fact that I haven't been doing any worthwhile reading or writing lately. No, I'm writing this rant to bitch about Terry Mothereffin' Goodkind and others of his ilk. What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, the point of this rant is a bit murky, but basically it boils down to authors behaving badly.

(WARNING: Extreme snarkiness and bad language ahead, although you should probably expect that from me by now.)

I honestly have no idea how much attention people pay to my tweets--other than the #1lineWed lines--but I'm sure someone somewhere out there was curious as to why I was so adamant about never wanting to read a Terry Goodkind novel the other day. And while you may be thinking, "But Leanne, you can't judge an author before reading his work, that's not fair! Goodkind is one of the greatest authors who ever lived and has revolutionized the fantasy genre, and you're just jealous because you could NEVER be as great as him/are too small-minded to realize what a genius he is/are too much of a cliche fantasy purist to recognize TRUE art!" Ok, you're probably not thinking all of that (or at least, I sincerely hope you're not), but yeah, I'm going to go ahead and judge him without reading his work. I will, however, still be judging him based on his own words, specifically these interview quotes which ianxfalcon so helpfully provided at the head of chapter one of his Wizard's First Rule sporking.

You see, despite the fact that I consider myself to be a fantasy fan and Goodkind is one of the more well-known fantasy authors, I had only previously been familiar with his works through Limyaael's Fantasy Rants, who tended to group him and Robert Jordan together so frequently that I often get the two of them mixed up in my mind. Considering Limyaael's rather critical opinion on Goodkind, I developed a slight, morbid curiosity about him, although I was never curious enough to actually bother seeking out his work until I began reading the Das Sporking sporking mentioned above. Needless to say, what I've read so far has been enough to largely expunge that curiosity from my system. And although what little of his writing I've read so far hasn't been anything great, my main reasons for not wanting to give Goodkind  my money really stem from those quotes I mentioned above.

1.) Terry Goodkind is a Narcissistic, Arrogant Douchenozzle- Or so he comes across as in interviews. Honest to God, I have never seen such an inflated sense of self from an author before, and that's saying something. I mean really, just look at those quotes! They read more like quotes from glowing NY Times reviews you often find on the back covers of books, not things that an author would say about his own work. Things like, "What I have done with my work has irrevocably changed the face of fantasy" or "What you are seeing with my novels is something unique. They are not like all the other fantasy books" or "I've transcended [the fantasy genre] showing what more it can be".

Uh, Goodkind? Those are things you should just never say, ever, not even if you sincerely believe them. Why? Because it makes you look like a narcissistic, arrogant douchenozzle, that's why! It's one thing to be confident in your own work and proud of what you have created; self-confidence is a very good thing, in fact, and something that a lot of writers struggle with, myself included. But it's another thing all together to have the absolute gall to claim that your writing has "irrevocably changed the face" of an entire genre. The utter pomposity to proclaim in not so many words that you inhabit a higher plane of existence above all other fantasy writers and have set a new and impossibly high standard for them to live up to.

I don't care how good or bad the actual quality of Goodkind's writing is, because the fact is that the only higher standard he has set is one of cocky snobbery. And the bar was already set pretty high for me, considering I've willingly thrown my money at such arrogant, snobby, over-hyped twatwaffles as Stephenie Meyer, E L James, and Cassandra Clare. But considering the last two were for the purposes of a good hate-read and to be an informed critic (*spoilers* I plan on doing a Mortal Instruments: City of Bones sporking in the near future *spoilers*), you're probably thinking I'm being unfairly picky for not even giving Goodkind that much of a chance. And you're right, I am being picky, but frankly I'm  just so tired of reading shit books by arrogant, over-hyped authors that I think even someone like me who has devoted an entire blog to snarking at such authors deserves a break from it once in a while. To say that Goodkind's comments about his own books are off-putting for me would be a massive understatement. Even I have standards, you know.

Yes, really, I have standards. Don't act so surprised.
2.) Terry Goodkind is a Contemptuous, Hypocritical Douchenozzle- So why spend so much time ranting about an author whose work I refuse to even read? No, it's not because I'm jealous. Yeah, it is largely because reading about how pompous Goodkind is in interviews just baffled me and angered me so much that I had to say something about it, but it's also largely because Goodkind is exactly the kind of author I never, ever want to become. The kind who writes fantasy, yet holds the entire genre and its fans in contempt and is such a serious believer in the speculative fiction "ghetto" that they stubbornly insist that their work is not fantasy at all. Yep, you heard me; the same guy who claimed that his books have "irrevocably changed the face of fantasy" has also been quoted as claiming that they are not fantasy at all. You know, despite having magic, relying on fantasy tropes, and having the word "wizard" in the title of the first book.

Goodkind's reasoning behind this ludicrous claim? That his books contain "important human themes" and have "elements of romance, history, adventure, mystery and philosophy"... as if no other fantasy novel has ever included any of these. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that a large number of fantasy media contains such elements. History is regarded as a vital part of worldbuilding--a concept which Goodkind also scoffs at, for reasons I can't fathom--and so often shows up in some form or another, and there's hardly a fantasy book that I can think of that doesn't include some form of both adventure and romance. And as for mystery, philosophy, and "important human themes"? Those elements can be found in all kinds of fantasy, from the classics of the genre to the most cliche and simplistic children's fantasy books. Also, he he states that in most fantasy, magic is a "mystical element" while in his books it's a "metaphysical reality that behaves according to its own laws of identity," which is just... blatantly untrue, assuming that what he means by "metaphysical reality" is having an established magic system. Gee, it's almost starting to sound like Goodkind has never even read any fantasy, isn't it? WHO'S BEING QUICK TO PASS JUDGEMENT NOW, TERRY?

Dear Terry, I hope that one day you wake up and realize that perpetuating this way of thinking is part of the reason why the "ghetto" you are trying (and hilariously failing) so desperately to distance yourself from exists in the first place. There is a shit ton of fantasy out there with "important human themes" which "dare to uplift and inspire" and are far more than just about wizards and dragons and ancient prophecies. But people who constantly have it drilled into their heads by people like you that that's all there is to most fantasy, are not going to bother to look for those books with Important Human Themes (tm), and ironically will probably not be interested in reading yours, either. And judging from your comments, it seems quite clear that you yourself are one of those people who have never explored the breadth of the extremely diverse fantasy genre because you wasted so much time looking down on it. And in the end, while you certainly seem to be of the opinion that your books have transcended and raised up the fantasy genre, through your stubbornness to see the genre as anything but a simplistic and boring mess of cliches, you have really set the bar quite low for yourself.

Above all, the biggest reason why I have been put off from Goodkind is because of how much his comments offend me as both a fantasy reader and aspiring fantasy author. His words just drip with condescension for fans of the genre and for other writers as well, calling most fantasy one-dimensional and simplistic. And of course if that's what he believes fantasy to be, then how could his complex novels about Important Human Themes (tm) ever be fantasy??? Fuck you, Goodkind. You're a fantasy writer, so just get over your pretensions and own up to it already. If we readers and writers of speculative fiction are ever going to overcome the dreaded ghetto, then we have to OWN that shit and be proud of our genre of choice.

I meant it when I said that Goodkind is the exact opposite of the kind of fantasy author I want to be, because if I'm ever lucky enough to realize my dream of becoming a published author, then I will be owning the title of "fantasy author" like no one's business, even if it turns out that I suck and everyone hates me. Because why should I be ashamed to associate myself with the genre that I obviously write? And why would I ever want to spew contempt at the very fantasy fans that will hopefully become my readership? I'm one of them, after all.

But by that same token, I also can't help but be pissed that any success I might have as an author would be fuel for Goodkind's smug assertion that he has transcended the fantasy genre and raised the standards by including Important Human Themes (tm) and elements of "romance, history, adventure, mystery, and philosophy". Because those are all things that I am very interested in, and that I try very sincerely to incorporate into my writing, both fantasy and non-fantasy. I don't think I'm doing anything particularly special or anything that hasn't been done before Goodkind started writing. I know that my books would never even be on Goodkind's radar since he clearly hates reading fantasy, but it just grinds my gears that he thinks he can take credit for paving the way for aspiring authors like myself to incorporate such themes into our works, as if the idea would've never occurred to us without his divine inspiration.

So yeah, I think I've read enough of Goodkind's words to satisfy my curiosity, thanks. I am seriously thinking about watching the Legend of the Seeker TV series, though. Maybe after my upcoming City of Bones sporking my next project will be some episode recaps...


  1. Terry Goodkind is a shit.

    OK I actually briefly considered leaving my comment at that but a post this epic needs an equally long comment.

    I actually did attempt to read Wizard's First Rule. I had known about Goodkind's comments about how he changed the face of fantasy (which isn't true, more on that later) and I wanted to see if he was actually any good. Wizard's First Rule is considered by most of his fans to be the best in the series, but it was utter shite. I gave up after about 170 pages. It was a total cliché fantasy story, with an everyman protagonist who encounters a weird magical woman from a faraway land and teams up with the local village hermit (who just happens to be a wizard, I actually almost threw the book at the wall when that happened) and goes off to kill an evil king. Oh yeah, the protagonist also gets a magical sword because he's some Chosen One or some bullshit like that. For someone who changed the face of fantasy Goodkind doesn't seem to be able to come up with original stories.

    Also, that 'philosophy' he has in his books? Apparently there's a scene in one of the later Sword Of Truth books where the main character kills a group of pacifists because they won't stand up for themselves, or something like that. Yeah, don't get too deep there with your philosophy Terry, it'll fly right over our heads. I've heard that the later SoT books are filled with scenes like this (I've also heard that they're also filled with torture porn and paedophilia. Remember: this man has books with 'important human themes').

    Also, Terry Goodkind has not changed the fucking face of fantasy. He writes clichéd pieces of shit. Authors who have changed the face of fantasy are the likes of George R.R. Martin, Glen Cook, Steven Erikson, Tolkien, and others. Goodkind did nothing original. He's an arrogant turd who deserves a punch in the face.

    Never read anything by Goodkind. As I said at the start, he is a shit.

    Also this was an epic post. I rarely read posts that are this long, but I read every word of this one.

    1. Wow, thank you!

      Yeah, from what I can tell from the sporking so far the writing is pretty cliche and not terribly good, and so many reviews I've read have mentioned that, too. I just didn't think it would be fair to focus on that quite as much in my rant since I haven't read the books myself.

      And yeah, I've heard all about his philosophical diatribes in the later books, too. How around book 5 they essentially become less about telling an actual story and more about being a platform for Goodkind to spout off objectivist beliefs straight from Ayn Rand. Because apparently the notion that the "hero" is always right and anyone who disagrees with him is clearly evil is an Important Human Theme (tm) that needed to be hammered into the readers' brains.