So this has been on my mind lately. I’m not super old but times have changed since I was a kid. The Internet rocks my world. It’s so awesome! Thanks to it, I can email people in different countries, I’m hooking up with old friends on Facebook, and anime is now pretty much mainstream. Thank goodness I can come out of the anime closet, and find that a billion other women watch it, too! Now we can braid shurikens into each other’s hair in peace.
But of course there are the downsides. There are creepy emails from strangers. (Note. If you’re saying, “Hello, I hope that this isn’t creepy, but I really liked this story that you wrote…” that isn’t creepy. If you’re sending videos of headless dolls because you think that somehow we’re best friends, that’s uber creepy. Yes, I mean you. Yes. Really. Yes.) People write the most appalling things online. But the biggest downfall, in my opinion, is that we can’t keep our mouths shut. There’s no mystique.
The more that I tell you about myself, the more that you have to hate. “I like sharks,” I say. “Well, I abhor them! A shark ate my brother!” you say, and there goes our relationship. Perhaps you really have difficulty around people with special needs, and their community, so there goes our relationship. Perhaps you hate my warm and fuzzy stories, and wish that I’d write straight horror. There goes our relationship. (By the way, the new emerging horror crowd seems to be the nicest group of people online. Why is this, I wonder? No idea, but it’s true. They should have their own television series about a band of diverse characters flying around the universe in a ratty ship…oh, wait. It’s called Firefly.)
Yesterday the Illiterati and I were discussing authors that rant back to hateful fanatics on their blogs. We had mixed feelings. Authors aren’t slaves to the people. A book won’t please everybody, and I don’t think that it should have to. Does an author want the book to sell? Of course. But ultimately you want to write a piece that has integrity. You want a piece that has soul. Your soul.
So you publish your novel with integrity and soul…and then somebody hates it. Vocal somebodies. Mean spirited somebodies. They rip you apart on forums and send you hateful e-mails. So what do you do?
Some of us thought that ranting back wasn’t going to solve anything. It made these particular authors look crazy, especially since some of the things that they said were….wow. Unbalanced. But some of us said if people dig and dig and dig, wouldn’t you eventually snap? Wouldn’t it feel good to say, “Listen here, jerk, I’m writing this book, not you. They’re my characters, and they’ll do what I want. Go write your own book, nyah!”
It would be easy to go off. But thanks to the ‘Net, it’ll be out there forever, posted on blogs and forums until the end of time. Mistakes can’t be erased like they used to be. “I’m sorry,” and “I’ll never do it again,” doesn’t have the same effect when your words are constantly being thrown back at you. They’ll never go away. And now that I’ve seen that author’s Crazy Eyes, a little of his/her sheen has worn off.
But then, we’re writers. We make our living with words, by spinning out the tales that other people would keep inside. It goes against a lot of our natures to demurely look down and not say anything. I know that I’m going to shoot myself in the foot a lot. Sorry. I don’t think that I can help it.
That said, I’m conducting an experiment this week that I’m hoping will improve my Quality of Life. I’ll tell you what it entails later, and if I survive it. Cuz I’m lazy, basically.
I love sharks! ; )
I read a great quote on Slashdot this morning: trying to remove something from the internet is like trying to get pee out a swimming pool. I use that rule anytime I post on any forum, secure or not. That’s why I use my real name on the internet…no use trying to hide.
Hahaha! I love the pee in the pool analogy.
I can’t wait to hear more about your experiment. It sounds interesting! Also if just one thing ruins a relationship, it probably wasn’t the best relationship to begin with so I would try not to dwell on it! (I know, look who’s talking/typing, right? Easier said/read than done.) And look at all the awesome people who you’ve met through these forums that just love you no matter what! Gosh, life would suck if we all had the same experiences, likes and dislikes.
As far as being critical on forums, I say just worry about you. Those who rip apart your works are entitled to their opinions and nothing you can say will likely change their minds. Maybe they just got a rejection letter and were feeling particularly grumpy that day or maybe they’re just always like that. Who knows, but writing back, while completely understandable, won’t really change anything. Okay, it could depending on how you go about it I guess. I’m just gonna stop rambling and give you a call later. Ha ha!
Thanks for your comments, guys! As always, they’re much appreciated.
Nisa, you sweet girl. You worry so much! I certainly didn’t mean that I’m being ripped on the forums or some old friend has kicked me to the curb. I meant this as a general thing that has nothing to do with me. When popular writers get attacked by legions of (un)fans. “When are you going to finish your series? Why don’t you have more diverse characters? How dare you name her Dynlania when her name should really be Chelsea?!” or whatever.
That said, the Illiterati and I have made a solemn vow. We’re all getting spats. But besides that, we also made another solemn vow, and that was this: If we achieve literary superstardom and crazed, rabid strangers blog about us, make youtube videos about us, and write Ray-and-Eddie shipping fanfic (for example), we will not allow each other to go off half-cocked. We’ll reign each other in. Anybody who writes a retaliatory whine/rant/throw-down gets kicked. Originally it was “kicked in the face”, but we decided that knee kicks were better, because if we’re superstars, we’ll need that author’s photo for sure.
But yes! Call me! Unless I call you first!
You’re nearly a year younger than my sister, Mercedes. How does that make you feel? :p
Other than that, I miss our little conversations! We definitely have to keep in touch better somehow. I know, I know. I’m terrible at it too. ha. We’ll work that out.
How’s all the writing going?
Talk to you soon.
I only worry because I care! 😉
Great post. I’ve been struggling with the whole ‘net thing myself.
Piss in a pool! Har!
Oh yeah…just who are these Illiterati?
Who are the Illiterati indeed…
So I was thinking more about the whole “when fans attack” thing and I suppose any author who is “public” (active in blogging and in public forums, etc) perhaps ought to seriously evaluate the point when they might, of necessity, go private. By that I mean compartmentalizing the “public” face from “private” self.
Look at movie stars: Brad Pitt doesn’t eat out at Wendy’s.
Unfortunately the internet is like a McDonalds that the whole universe goes to.
Authors luckily can have a degree of anonimity in the real world, but on the internet…
So, depending on how thick a person’s skin is, etc, there comes a time when they no longer can be “private” in “public”. They must create and maintain a “public persona”.
It’s an idea that needs developing. anyone care to add?
So I just completed an epic reenactment of the film Blue Velvet with headless Barbie and Ken dolls. Who do I send that to NOW??