Stephenson on the perks of being a successful SF author

In an interview at Slashdot, writer Neal Stephenson agrees that blanket marginalization of speculative fiction (like his novels) by the literary establishment is unfortunate and somewhat simple-minded, but points out that life outside the High Literary Sphere has its advantages:

[A] while back, I went to a writers’ conference. I was making chitchat with another writer, a critically acclaimed literary novelist who taught at a university. Stephenson photo, via Tommy Williams' siteShe had never heard of me. After we’d exchanged a bit of of small talk, she asked me “And where do you teach?” just as naturally as one Slashdotter would ask another “And which distro do you use?”

I was taken aback. “I don’t teach anywhere,” I said.

Her turn to be taken aback. “Then what do you do?”

“I’m . . . a writer,” I said. Which admittedly was a stupid thing to say, since she already knew that.

“Yes, but what do you do?”

I couldn’t think of how to answer the question — I’d already answered it!

“You can’t make a living out of being a writer, so how do you make money?” she tried.

“From . . . being a writer,” I stammered.

At this point she finally got it, and her whole affect changed. She wasn’t snobbish about it. But it was obvious that, in her mind, the sort of writer who actually made a living from it was an entirely different creature from the sort she generally associated with.

Stephenson also answers that age-old SF question: in a fight between William Gibson and Stephenson, who would win? (Via Bookninja; photo of Stephenson speaking at a creative writing class before the release of The Baroque Cycle taken from Tommy Williams’ site.)


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