Vicky vs Cristina

I had a lot of topics I wanted to post on today, including why the word count on my current WIP didn't inflate as grandly as I'd hoped over the weekend (oh, I wrote more than 800 words this weekend. many, many more. unfortunately the majority of them became casualties of my delete button. more on this in a future post), but Friday evening I happened to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona and there were aspects of it that reminded me of a particular pet peeve regarding writing, or more generally, creativity. And then I discovered that very day Mary Kole over at KidLit.com posted on the very topic that was on my mind. Ms. Kole entitled her post "Business vs Art," but after viewing the movie, I see this debate as Vicky vs Cristina.

Both characters fall victim to the annoying traits of their stereotypes (this is intentional, so I'm not criticizing the movie here. Just using these stereotypes to illustrate my point). Vicky is the more play-it-safe gal where every aspect of her life has to be perfectly planned out and fit into this grand vision of what she believes to be ideal. This by itself isn't so terrible--what's annoying is the fact she seems so judgmental of people who choose a different lifestyle than the one she values.

But even she didn't completely annoy the crap out of me like Cristina (Scarlett Johansson's character). The self-described yet ultimately ungifted "artiste," Cristina turns her nose up at convention and the typical lifestyle to the point where her life becomes its own cliche.

This kind of sh8t drives me nuts.

The snobbery, I mean. People who see the publishing world as "literary" vs "selling out." People who criticize authors like Justin Cronin because The Passage turned him from English professor to household name. Jealous of that 3.75 mil advance, much?

I read books. Some of those books are literary, some are mainstream. Some are adult, others are not. (Lately I've been reading a ton of YA because I really want to know the market I'm writing in, although the book currently on my nightstand is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.) But they're all just words on pages, and the genre they are dumped into just comes down to what kinds of words are used, the way they are grouped, the manner in which they are wielded. But when judging whether a book was good or not, it all comes down to the same questions for me, no matter what genre it fell into. Did it make me feel something? Did it inspire me? Did it make me want to tell everyone about it?

Hubby is kind of a book snob. He has his MA in literature (vs my BA) and our apartment is lined with bookshelves, as we are both avid readers. When I first moved in with him, the idea of tainting his pristine shelves of literary works with some of my plebeian ones was something he had trouble getting past.  BIG trouble. Now the J.K. Rowlings, the Suzanne Collinses, the Scott Westerfields all feature prominently at the top of some of those shelves. When Mockingjay became available for preorder on Amazon, he had ordered it for me before I could even say...well...mockingjay.

I don't think it has to be one or the other. I don't think there's anything weird about the fact I minored in Philosophy but watch shows like The Vampire Diaries with all the giddiness of a 15-year-old. I think it's ego-maniacal to take oneself too seriously. In fact, the point in Vicky Cristina Barcelona where I stopped hating the character of Cristina was the moment her confidence faltered, where she doubted if she had any real talent. Because that's human, and human is interesting. And flawed. And sympathetic. And we all have a different story, or as authors go, a different story to tell. And different ways to tell it.

In sum: nobody likes a hater.

As far as The Passage, I fully intend on reading it and will let you know what I think!


  1. I remember that movie. Both of those characters irritated me for the same reasons. You're right about the human part, and nobody liking haters (except other haters). The one Penélope Cruz played was freaky though.

    Lucky, lucky. I don't know ONE male who actually likes to read about anything unrelated to sports.

    I figured out how to spell Suzanne Collins' name because I've looked up The Hunger Games so many times. The wait for Mockingjay is killing me! And JKR and Scott Westerfeld are awesome.

    I heard about The Passage through an interview with the author. Stephen King had called in to say he really liked it!

  2. Thanks for the correction! That is what I get for furtively posting at work.

  3. No problem! Glad you didn't get caught. ;)

  4. I just finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I am glad I did because it was making me stay up until 2am reading it. Is it sucking you in too? I am taking a break until I read the next one because I need my sleep.

  5. You know, it took me a little while (about 100 pages?) to get into TGWDT, but after that it totally sucked me in. Wish there was more Lisbeth Salander in it. I hear she figures more prominently in Book 2, though.