Thursday, July 4, 2013
Civility Among Writers
First, I’d like to say From The Heart has some of the nicest authors and aspiring authors around. The Dali Lama once said, “Kindness is never wasted.” I believe this is true, but unfortunately, there are many writers and aspiring writers who subscribe to the dog eat dog philosophy as a way to get ahead.
Amazon is deleting reviews of authors as they discover them. None of mine have been deleted, but I buy a boatload of stuff from Amazon too. The reason they are deleting them is two-fold. Number one is the people who never ever bought the book, let alone read it, but feel the need to criticize an author. This person mistakenly believes by doing this she is helping her own book or possibly a friend’s to rise on the listings. The culprit that started this was the wife of a UK science textbook author. She left blistering reviews about other science books calling them fraudulent, misleading, and biased. One victim of her reviews pointed out to Amazon that she was married to a textbook author and all her one star reviews were on her husband’s competition.
As writers, we are aware how time intensive writing is. We give up any hope of leisure time and often family time to write. We are also aware how much of our identity is intermingled with our stories. Knowing this, why flame someone in a review or judging a writing contest? I’ve felt the burn of a flame for writing about an interracial romance. A friend’s flame was because her character chose to have her baby as opposed to aborting it. Another friend received a scathing review because her bondage book was full of naughty sex. You can see where personal prejudices enter into the review.
My local writing group is currently judging a writing contest. We’ve had several training sessions with the emphasis on positive feedback. Money is tight and no one pays to be insulted. I remember which contests were ugly to me. Guess what? Not only did I not enter them again, but I warned my friends against them. Entries are down in all RWA contests already due to money being tight.
I believe there is a scarcity theory among writers in general. It reads: if one person does really well it diminishes my chances. This may account for people slamming the Fifty Shades of Grey book. I even read at the recent RT convention, there was a full-scale rant against the book. I am not sure if this was a bunch of people getting together at the bar or what. The book’s author, E.L. James, was at the convention. It probably made the carping authors look like mean girls.
I am fortunate to have some of my favorite authors on my Facebook page. The one thing they do consistently is promote fellow authors as opposed to promoting their books. I appreciate the kindness shown in From the Heart interactions. I only wish all writers could learn to be as civil.