I make it a practice to ignore negative messages — firstly, because I can’t change a critic’s mind and, secondly, because I can’t wrap my head around the very concept of negative responses. This time, I can’t help myself.
The ‘rude and insensitive description’ to which you refer —
“It’s curious, though, the extent to which this strange slovenly woman in her rickety wheeled dwelling affected me with her prediction.”
— happens to be the simple truth. The woman was, indeed, markedly slovenly and her dwelling was, in fact, on wheels and extremely rickety. I’m not sure why this would be fine in fiction but not in personal essay, when it is an honest description.
Your presumption about my understanding of privilege and classism is unfortunate and erroneous, as is your notion that I’ve fallen “from the upper middle class/wealthy class strata to the middle of the middle class.” I have, in fact, never reached higher than the middle of the middle class, which is where I now sit. I was decidedly lower class during the time referenced in the piece. I’m not sure where you get the idea that I am somehow financially privileged and less sure why you use this fact to attack.
And that is the thing that irks me the most here, oddly. What does class have to do with art? What if this was written by a member of the privileged classes — would the bank account devalue the perspective? It is my belief that everyone, regardless of class, has something to say. I’m interested in all perspectives. It actually seems to me that you may be the classist here, muzzling those who may not represent whatever class you want to hear from.
I was thrilled, I must admit, to be compared to Rebecca Solnit. I love her, it’s high praise, even with your qualifier — “…without any introspection.” Even when I’m unhappy with my writing, introspection is the one thing that I can’t get away from. Introspection is my thing.
None of my writing is terribly important. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Why do people waste time telling others that their attempts at art stink? What are you putting in the world and what do you hope to get back?