“I have spent a good many years since–too many, I think–being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.” ― Stephen King, On Writing
I’ve thought a pretty good deal about whether or not to post this….because in general I don’t believe in shedding light on negativity. The last thing I want is to add fuel to the fire. That said, I also believe that it’s important to set a precedent on how you expect to be treated. In the end, I thought about my children and how I’d want them to react if someone were treating them badly. And I’d hope that they would have the courage to not only stand up for themselves… but also for what they believe in. -B
This past week the world of author land (via the web) has been a relatively negative one. Which makes me pretty sad- because as a general rule I try and stay away from negativity and drama. But there are a few things in particular that I did want to address: I received my first few pieces of hate (e)mail. I’m not going to rehash or share what was said here…because in my opinion that would lend credence to it. I will say that it’s a waste of time sending me mean emails because I really don’t pay attention to what (hateful) people think of me. If one wants to send helpful critique… then by all means. Yes, my novel is dark (and some would even say twisted) which is why I’ve added a warning label- just about everywhere possible. It isn’t required reading material and as a consumer all major retailers have fairly generous return policies. As a writer, I stand behind my story. I do not read or respond to people writing for the sake of being mean.
Which brings me to the fire storm of press that author M. Leighton has received this week for taking her novel down because a few people couldn’t handle its dark content. I’m not inclined to judge this author or her motivations for un-publishing her work. I don’t know her but I can relate (a little) to how she feels. Putting yourself out there is inviting people to judge you. And it takes a certain type of grit not to give a shit- especially when their judgement is not in your favor. The thing about email, social media, and the internet is that it gives people a certain power. You can say (write) what you think while for the most part remaining anonymous. And because of this there are a whole crop of assholes out there just looking for an opportunity to utilize their newly found power. They say things they would never say to your face as though wielding a sword, waiting to stab the first thing that moves. It’s crazy. It’s the not funny- kind of funny. It’s sad. And yet their audience thrives on it. They feed on the drama of it all. As for me, I decided not to pay attention to it. I do however pay close attention to the energy I surround myself with- and it’s my belief that once you draw a line in the sand and let people know that you won’t tolerate their bad behavior… they get bored. And they do what bullies do… they move on to their next target.
So what I would say to M. Leighton (if she were a friend) is this: taking down your work but only after telling everyone it will be gone forever within the next two days…is going to seem a little bit overly dramatic to the general public. They will see it as a publicity stunt and one way you propelled yourself into the top 100. Unfortunately, there will surely be backlash in that, too. And it’s a choice you’ll likely regret. Because in the long run you’re letting your critics win. You’ll come to find for the very reasons that people wrote to say that they hated the book, will be the exact same reasons others love it. Either way, this decision as a writer is a personal one that is yours to make. And truthfully, it really isn’t right for me or anyone else to debate it. But don’t let temporary defeat stop you from doing what you love. Get back to writing. And chin up, girl. Chin UP.
“I don’t have time, energy, or interest in hating the haters; I’m too busy loving the lovers.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience