Earlier today a good friend came to me for advice because of something that had happened to an author she admires and respects. This writer has a loyal and supportive readership, people who genuine love her books, her style, and her sarcastic sense of humour. We should all be this lucky, to have readers who love us and care about our success. So let me tell you a bit of what happened, and you can then tell me how fair you think this situation is at the moment.
The author in question here writes witty, acerbic, somewhat irreverent books, I’m told. I don’t have an opinion because I’ve not read her books, but I genuinely DO feel anger for what has unfolded recently. Like many of us, she was invited to be a guest at a blogger’s site, and the writer thought it would be fun, so she accepted the invitation. Imagine her horror when her humourous responses were wholly misinterpreted, and even misquoted. Seems this unleashed a shit-storm of nastiness that has left the author feeling understandably upset to the point that she’s ill. To make matters worse, small-minded idiots seem to have taken it upon themselves to start leaving one star “reviews” and ratings on her books via Amazon–people who not only have NOT read her books, but who have been taking the word of gossip to make their nasty judgements. The blog host removed the post when it came to light what was happening, but the shit continues to go viral, with nothing to stand on.
So, authors and readers–what are your thoughts on a mess like this? And those of you who think you’re doing the general public a service by behaving like bitches and petty minded idiots are free to weigh in as well, because believe me, I wouldn’t dream of silencing you if you have something to say about your moral crusades because I’d like to know what the fuck you think you’re achieving? NO two people ever read the same words and see the same thing, it’s human nature. My opinion of a book is not the same as yours. BUT, I do believe we have to exercise some level of intelligence and understanding when we are dealing with written words. You can’t hear tone, laughter, or see the sparkle in someone’s eyes when they write words; and humour is very much a hit and miss gamble with the written word.
We all make mistakes when we deal with the public, assuming we are being clear and concise when sometimes we miss the mark. Does that mean if I say something that doesn’t stroke your sensibilities and soothe your ego that you’ll rise up against me and begin to pan my books, telling your friends to do the same? What gives you the right to judge what I meant, especially if you don’t ask–or worse, you’ve never even seen the “offensive” words, only heard about them from someone else?
The internet allows many small-minded people to have a sense of power, and if one of these people doesn’t like the way they hear about something an author has said, they can very easily jump on the hate bandwagon and start encouraging other people–without ever seeing the post/blog/interview themselves. Naïve or not, I’m one of those people who believes if I don’t see the content, I don’t have the right to judge it–wild concept, I know. We, as authors, put not only our creative hearts out to the public when we write stories, we then put our personal lives and fears before you when we do interviews and write blogs, etc. This is all in an effort to connect to the people who may enjoy our work and our craft. I don’t know of many authors who haven’t been trashed for one reason or another and been made to feel like total shit because someone misunderstood their book, or their intent when they’ve responded to a question. If you think it’s easy to be on display for an audience, try it some time. And before you decide to exercise your power of nastiness, why not exercise your brain and ask yourself just why it is you’re about to attack someone you don’t even know? Because yes, those one-star reviews you use as your retaliation–they’re taking away an author’s paycheque and credibility–all because you’re going to be a bitch who hasn’t got anything better to do at the moment, or this writer offended your girlfriend’s sensibilities because said girlfriend misread a statement and got shitty. Honestly, grow the fuck up and realize, if you don’t ask, only act, all you’re really proving is what an ass you are. There are enough hurdles and hassles in this business without readers looking for ways to hurt a writer’s reputation just for the sake of being able to do it.
The next time you want to jump into the pool of controversy, ask yourself honesty what the target has ever done to you? We write stories, the best way we know how, and then we offer them to you to entertain you. Maybe you should consider how you’d feel if we suddenly passed judgement on you for your tastes, or started slamming you because you said something we may have misinterpreted? There are always two sides to any situation, if you don’t know enough to ask and think for yourself, then go back to the pasture with the rest of the sheep, please. And here’s hoping the wolf is hungry when he finds you!!
*ALL comments welcome and unmoderated... and yes, that is sarcasm, but it's also true. Let's hear from you now.