Monday, February 10, 2014

During the Death Match

Last week's battle in the Broken Pencil Deathmatch ended oddly, too, with one gang of anonymous voters calling the other gang of anonymous voters cheaters. It was really a poor end.

I think the exercise is pretty goofy, but who cares about the votes anyway? It's nice to get a story out there, have it read, and who cares what else happens. There are always people hiding behind the anonymity to say things that they would not say to a person's face.

There is an odd space in which authors exist, except the ones already anointed, deserving or otherwise, and as I have been thinking about this spectacle I think I've come to like at least one thing about it--it makes public the usually silent grumblings that particular people voice about the work of their peers. Interesting in the last round was how the Ottawa independent community came out to defend their competitor's story.

I don't think it should matter if you know a person or not, that's my problem. In fact, that is the problem with all literary communities (small or large): their loyalty and support becomes ridiculously suffocating and incestuous. You must like my work and I must like yours. We pat each other on the back, while hoping that if we praise someone outside of our group that favour will also be returned so that we can move out of our small community and into the larger one, meanwhile the agents and the big publishers look for stuff that looks exactly like the other stuff, supporting Can Lit as if it's a network of vending machines, replacing stale cheese-flavoured snacks with fresh cheese-flavoured snacks, and asking their authors to make more snacks.

Anyway, it's nice then to see some of this stuff in the Death Match. It may not always be great, but it's raw, and the writers are writing it because they are moved to, not because they want a job as a writer.

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