*Bob Dylan, backstage at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall in 1965 CREDIT: REX FEATURES
Ummm, say what now? Hold on sorry, you’re breaking up, I don’t think I heard that right. One sec…
Ok now say that again. Because I’m sorry, I could have sworn you just said the Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, but we all know that can’t be right. *uneasy laughter*.
YUP! That’s pretty much how every writer I’ve spoken to today seems to have first reacted when they heard the news that, SINGER SONGWRITER Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. And I gotta tell ya, know matter how many times I write it, say it, or cry it while rocking myself in the shower, it just doesn’t get any easier to hear.
Now please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong. The man is unbelievably talented. That’s why his music is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has won Golden Globes AND Academy Awards along with a laundry list of nominations and awards in music longer than my arm.
But no matter how talented the man is, this just doesn’t sit well with me. Yes Bob Dylan is a wonderful lyricist and wordsmith but his medium is music.
Writers have always gotten the short end of the artistic stick when it comes to recognition for our medium. Writing as an art form just isn’t seen as sexy the way musicians and actors are. And trust me, the uphill battle for respect has only gotten steeper over time, with a few booby traps thrown in for good measure. People seem to have this subconscious bias that because we all learn to write that being a writer isn’t anything special because hey, everyone can do it, and we all do it every single day. But not everyone can act or sing or play the guitar. It’s easier for people to SEE, understand and appreciate that kind of talent.
So in a world where it’s harder and harder for writers to earn any kind of respect, they go and give our highest award away to… not a writer. It just feels like a slap in the face. Like even the people that are supposed to be championing writers the hardest don’t even feel like we are worth are own awards. We aren’t sexy enough, hip enough, relevant enough for one of our own to be allowed the accolades that we work so hard to achieve.
The Nobel committee had an opportunity to honour a writer this year but chose a musician instead. In a time when reading is in such steep decline this just makes absolutely no sense to me. They made the wrong choice, and the literary community feels the sting of it.