Misconception: A mistaken notion
All growing up I was either reading or writing. Of course, those early stories never saw the light of day and I couldn’t tell you what happened to them, or even what they were about, though I suspect they had knights, damsels and unicorns and dragons. Then life got in the way of both. Until circumstances changed and I can now go back to that which I love the most. Needless to say, I always wanted to be a writer—an author—to know my name was on books that graced people’s bookshelves.
But as I get more and more involved in the industry, I’m finding that all is not as it seems. I always thought that authors were above reproach, that they were true to their stories, that they were the epitome of professionalism. And in most cases I’m right. But then there are the reviewers. People that didn’t even enter my mind when I began this journey to be a published writer.
I don’t even know how to express my emotions on the public viciousness I have seen. And words are my forte. I think the confusion I feel is what bothers me the most. Especially as many of my fellow authors and friends post on Goodreads and I've never had a problem there. Who do I believe? Who has the right to attack another? Is it justified? And what about the retaliation? And the most disturbing question—why?
I’ve been lucky, I guess. I’ve not been the target of the reviewers who like to trash authors on their list. And I find it infinitely sad that there is such a list. I never thought there was anything wrong in critiquing another’s work, if it is constructive criticism and indicated as an opinion and done with kindness. After all, to read a book invites so many interpretations, that they are nearly as individualized as the human beings reading them.
But to verbally rape a story that you may or may not have even read? To tear it down, shred it beyond recognition? To miss the point of the story so completely that what you say about it makes no sense? I don’t understand this. I find no justification in such actions other than to be vile and arrogant and vindictive.
And the outcry that has come of this. To publicly give information that can be detrimental to those that attacked in the first place? So? Let us all bow down to that low level and retaliate with even more viciousness and revenge? This is all so much more than I anticipated. It’s downright scary!
If I continue to write in the genre I enjoy, will I someday become a target to a stranger that hasn’t read the book or simply doesn’t prefer that genre? And again, I ask why? Why even comment on a book you have likely not read because you “don’t like that sort of thing”, just to abrogate the author who is trying to make a living and ruin the enjoyment they have for their art?
I don’t want to that to happen to me. No one does and my heart bleeds for those that have had to endure such hate. But, I will also say that retaliation and revenge are not the answer. If ever this happens to me, I will cry, rant, vent, scream, maybe even contemplate giving up, but I will not acknowledge what they have done to me. Will not show how much they have hurt me because then I have given them exactly what they were aiming for.
I don’t like the confusion all of this has instilled in me. Building confidence as an author is hard enough without reading article after article about such nonsense. I don’t like the fear it has caused. Writing means stepping up and taking a risk. A risk that is hard enough without all the fear.
I will end this with one more lesson I have learned that is not a misconception and that I have not misunderstood. The genre I write in is a community, a family and we stick up for our own. I would quite happily defend any of my fellow authors and friends.
To the point of creating an organization that posts personal information that is now forever on the web? No. But, with words that I love, I would defend them nonetheless. Authorship is an occupation, just as any other. A career for many and hopefully mine as well some day. So let us create and leave the reading to those that appreciate our stories.