I will state up front this is a rant. It’s not aimed at most of you and I will apologize if you take it as such...unless you’re guilty of some of the below...in which case: knock it the hell off!
Is there such a thing as paradise? Personally I think it’s a temporary situation at best, typically reserved for those still possessing stars in their eyes. After a while, though, you begin to notice the details and that’s where the devils lie. Little by little you’ll begin to see the vipers in the underbrush and the occasional rotten fruit hanging from the tree. Once that happens, you’ll take off those rose colored glasses and see the bad behavior that’s always been there.
I entered into the writing world around a year and a half ago. My goals were simple: tell fun stories, meet others who do the same, and hopefully entertain a few people along the way. Those goals have since matured a bit, but the underlying value is still there. My hope is that it’s always there.
In joining this crazy world I have met (and continue to meet) tons of awesome people. For a time, those were the only type I met...so much so, that I began to think that the usual underbelly that normally exists anywhere else had never taken a foothold in the writing/reading community.
Not so, sadly. The stars have been falling from my eyes for a while now, but events from a few weeks back really left a bad taste in my mouth. I saw bad behavior on both sides of the coin - writer and reader alike - and I just don’t get it.
I’m not about to get on a moral high horse. I’ve done plenty of stupid things; however, I believe that’s the key word: stupid. There’s a big difference between stupid and malicious. I can forgive the first. The second is a little harder because it’s usually blatant.
I understand that in anything passions can run high. But when people resort to unfounded mob justice or underhanded tactics to try to enforce their viewpoint on things like this...well I have to take a step back and say:
They’re just stories, people! Get a grip!
For those who read: if you catch a writer, publisher, agent etc doing something unsavory or even illegal, then by all means report it, tell people about it, and scream it to the high heavens. I have no problem with that. People should be held accountable for their actions. By exposing those actions, you hopefully make the world a slightly more honest place.
For those who write: I will sum it up very succinctly...act like a fucking professional!
I could go on and on about underhanded marketing tactics, similar mob justice attitudes, or blatant disregard for people who paid for your product. If you fall into this bucket, I just want to know: are you a writer or a con man / woman? Pick one, not both.
It’s even worse, because this behavior goes beyond stupidity. If someone on a forum somewhere acts immature, the consequences are limited. If you (the writer, the brand, the artiste) act up and get caught...well congratulations; all I will say is that the internet has a long memory.
It’s not us vs. them, no matter which us you think you are. Neither side should be out to get or game the other. There should be mutual respect between and amongst both sides.
Writers: concentrate on putting out the best work you can. Be thankful for each and every person who takes a chance on you. If they don’t like it, learn from the experience and move on.
Readers: be discerning with your time and money. Reward the experience with appropriate word of mouth (positive or negative), but keep things in perspective. Lively debate is great...witch hunts, not so much.
Above all else, don’t stand for it when you see bad behavior no matter whence it came. Sometimes it takes just one voice to quell the madness before it gets out of hand. The main question is, when our time comes will we have the courage to be that voice?
Hopefully the answer is yes because both reading and writing are about enjoyment and, outside of the minor inconvenience of a lousy story or bad review, there’s no reason it should ever turn into anything else.
Rant over! You may carry on with your day.