Last week I said I’d quit with the ridiculous list writing and that I’d move on to some other less entertaining/less informative thing. I am committed to fulfilling the promise of lowered expectations.
There are a few things I thought about covering. Some of them have much bigger real world consequences than the others. But then again, if I squint hard enough, and I extrapolate far enough, and I give in to the never ending demons of media speculation and accepting the worst qualities of humans, I suppose it can be done.
First up is last week’s shooting in Aurora. There is nothing I can add to capture how terrible that scene was and continues to be, especially for those closest to it. Whenever something like that happens, after the initial shock of the event has worn off, I usually start thinking too much and too abstractedly about the role pop culture plays in helping criminally inclined people envision outlets for their violence.
I think I brought up something like this in an earlier installment of this blog (but I’m too whatever to look back right now), but I definitely wonder if, by publishing books that typically focus on interpersonal violence, if I’m not guilty on some level of bringing down the tenor of all conversation.
Someday soon I will likely disappear. Poof. Into the ether to figure out my culpability in the perpetration of guilt in the world. My own evolution is a micro-study of the problem--from middle school outcast with an interest in serial killers to middle aged dude who believes, ultimately, that love is the answer to all of our problems. I believe there is a choice to be made between perpetuating all of the fear and hate and anger in the echo chamber of the public square or raising two middle fingers in the direction of that sound and fury and choosing, instead, to love. Simply. Fully. Without reservation.
Then again, Story Two I was going to bring up was about the recent petulant behavior of a group of authors who didn’t stop at crying and bitching about negative reviews, but instead, started stalking the reviewers—posting the reviewers’ personal information online (including where they lived), in some bullshit attempt to stop people from giving their honest reviews of books. I’m not going to link to anything these people have done, but it won’t take you long on the Google machine to find it.
A message to thin skinned authors--You do not get to bully and harass people because they don’t like your precious baby. You don’t get to make up rules like, “Well, the reviewer is also an author, and authors shouldn’t review other authors.” That’s something you made up, it’s nothing the rest of us signed on to or will abide. Sorry. If you wonder why your life is full of drama, I’d suggest hitting the introspection button and figure out how much of it starts with you.
As a publisher, I’ve definitely had books that have come out from both Bleak House and Tyrus that were reviewed less than favorably by certain reviewers. Sometimes I’ve read the reviews and wondered if the reviewer was even reading the right book. I’ve seen reviewers bitch and moan about things I’d consider inconsequential. But how many times have I emailed them to say, “You’re a jerk and I hate you?”
I’ve seen some of the offending authors claim that the bad reviews are messing with their livelihood. I’m going to call bullshit on this, too. A bad review on Amazon or Good Reads or any other blog isn’t going to be the crippling blow to what would have otherwise been a successful book. You know what kills your ability to make a living as a writer? Writing a book that isn’t better than the one next to it on the shelf. And, guess who’s responsibility that is? I’ll give you one hint while you hit the introspection button.
All of this negativity and stalking and screaming adds to the same distorted noise in the public square that leads to drama and tragedy that doesn’t serve us in any helpful way. At least I can’t see it.
Anyway, it’s off to the introspection button for me. Then gone.
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