Indie gurus’ academic problem

Overhead shot of students working in a library on long wooden tables, spiraling out from a central hub.

Full disclosure, I suppose – I was listening to Kevin J. Anderson’s latest 20Books presentation on my commute and had to stop after about ten minutes. So many indie gurus like to demean English teachers, particularly professors, when they’re really talking about singular examples, or perhaps a construct in their head. These straw teachers are easy to dismiss to make a point, but I think that’s lazy and does nothing to help the current lack of critical thinking we have here in the States. I don’t know where indie gurus think critical thinking comes from. I posted this out of frustration.

Indie publishing has an elitism problem: the big chip on its shoulder when it comes to academia. Some still struggle against the outdated idea that indie publishing isn’t “legit” and use English teachers as scapegoats. I get it, and…

Perhaps “your” English teacher had a gatekeeping issue. Perhaps “your” English teacher wanted to designate between “literature” and “trash.” But the vast majority of people teaching English are not like this anymore. In the 1960s and 1980s, sure, and…

Most 2023 English professors are contingent and precarious. Most can’t earn a livable wage working at one college and take on additional classes. Most are members of marginalized communities. Most may not have health insurance, and…

The public discourse is against them since our classes are the first and last place a student will be exposed to critical thinking and unfamiliar texts. Our classes may also be the only place a student feels their voice is valued, and…

Sure, some prioritize “classics” over “genre,” but as we convince students they need college to succeed, we demonize the skills that a liberal education provides. The “English major” is a running joke, but…

When indie gurus blame English teachers, they forget that a good number of us may teach English. The romance writing world, in particular, is full of teachers. You can’t be the rebel indie writer if you’re singing the same song as the hegemony, and…

I’ve never worked with an English teacher who wasn’t dedicated to lifting student voices, and who strived in the face of administrative hurdles or massive burnout. Telling writers that their English teachers ruined them is lazy advice.

I use strategies I learn from indie authors to help students enjoy writing, only to read another guru blog post or watch another presentation that paints all English teachers with a brush dipped in a 1960s-era bucket, and…

(Not all of that advice will work with academic writing. As someone who writes both fiction and research, there are big differences between genre expectations. Anyone who dismisses the challenges of a genre they don’t write should not be taken seriously.)

I didn’t put this paragraph in the thread because it felt mean and focused, which wasn’t the tone I was going for. I put it here because it accurately represents what I was feeling at the time. (And, in certain indie author areas, could essentially uncover one of the sources of my frustration.) Today I was excited to learn some new productivity tricks, but again I was told that I was the problem. The indie gurus are too successful to use an academic straw man in order to pander the same advice Heinlein published 70+ years ago.

English teachers are not your enemy or your reason for failure. Look at your real gatekeepers. Learn from them, I guess, but then cast their attitudes aside.

Your voice and your story are what matter.

I added the following paragraph when I omitted the other paragraph since I needed to keep it at 11 posts: I teach composition and try to make time to write. I succeed, and then I fail. But above all, I love the process. I love student writing and I love getting them to love their own writing. Don’t make this harder.

You can see the original thread here, though I don’t get a lot of exposure (which is fine, I don’t want to give “X” my money.)

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