Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unbearable Authors

I have, over the past handful of years, frequented a few internet forums dedicated to the discussion of writing. For a long time, I was a mainstay at Writer's Beat, and had a great time talking shop with some great people. I especially enjoyed the Prompts & Challenges section, which really helped me get on track as a fledgling writer who didn't really have a method or a voice yet.

My experience at The Hothouse, an invitation-only writing group comprised mostly of Writer's Beat alumni, was short-lived, but invaluable in the sense that it taught me how to critique the work of others as well as my own. But it also showed me that some writers can be absolutely unbearable.

I suppose I should have expected it, since writers are just people, after all, and capable of being just are rude, mean, and snarky as anyone else. But there was something just so bohemian about the community that I never saw it coming.

I soured to the community experience (as I've discussed on this blog, at some length) and decided to strike out on my own again. To my dismay, I discovered that writing isn't the solitary experienced I had imagined it to be. I missed the shop-talk, the sharing of ideas and plot premises, the adulation that comes from your peers when you announce the completion of a story (or the acceptance of one, though at the time I had only one of those experiences). I missed discussions on the philosophy of writing, the way each writer's foibles made them wholly unique among their peers.

So I found Write One Sub One. Not a forum, but a community of like-minded bloggers sharing in the Great Experiment of writing and submitting one story every week (or month) for a year. That's where I met people I consider eFriends, like Milo James Fowler, Deborah Walker, Adam Callaway, and Simon Kewin. So impressed by this cast of characters was I that I joined up at Absolute Write, which is sort of a Writer's Beat on steroids. It was there I met even more great people, such as Nathaniel Katz, Lydia S. Gray, Shelley Ontis, and others.

But just today, I encountered my first truly rude Absolute Write member. The backstory is this: Early this month I began a fantasy story that didn't seem to have any fantasy elements to it. So I went to my forum-going friends and asked "What makes fantasy fantasy?" Having heard their opinions, I thanked them and announced I was comfortable calling my very unfantasy a fantasy story. Somewhere along the way, a member (whom I regrettably only know by handle, which is defcon6000) disagrees with the consensus, and begins a rousing debate. Then today, I find this post by another (nameless) member:

OMG. Just give the freaking story a second moon, a magical sword, a princess with an un-lockable, rusting chastity belt, and a blood drinking unicorn and be done with the genre indecision

Also, either debate GRRM OR finish your book, one or the other. It won't really matter whether it's fantasy or not if all you're concerned about is Stark politics and miniseries.

(It should be noted that during the course of the debate, other sub-conversations had branched off to the topics of the HBO series Game of Thrones, and the book series it is based on)

 Setting aside the fact that I had already announced I was more than comfortable calling my story a fantasy, what sort of comment is this? In what way does this help? I understand that some people employ the boot camp method to themselves and maybe even to their writing proteges, but I certainly didn't ask for it.

I'll never understand why some writers are like this. If it's simply a matter of being tired of the discussion (which this person had not participated in at all prior to this post) then just ignore the thread!

I don't know, I guess I'm just not cut from that cloth, but I find that kind of behavior deplorable. This person is obviously under the false impression that I'm still asking for help, which makes their attitude even more appalling.

So, if there's a point to this post today, it's that you should not, under any circumstances, be THAT writer, the one who feels the need to take out their own personal frustrations on their peers. You're better than that.


  1. Beware ye of trolls! I don't spend much time on forums, but I've encountered a snarky troll every now and then -- and I've wondered the same thing. Why do they feel the need to barf on everybody?

  2. Yep, sounds tedious, Joe. I can't understand their motivation. Stick with us -- your e-buddy, Debs.

  3. Thanks, peeps!

    Deb, thanks for the heads-up. I'll go check it out now.

  4. Joe,

    Sorry to hear about that experience. Guess there are just idiots in every walk of life. And I'm glad I'm on your "good" list!

  5. *sigh* Sorry about the dumb dumbs, Joe. I understand your sentiment. Comments like that come out of left field and can be really confusing. I've found many friends on Absolute Write and in the W1S1 community. All you can do is ignore the stupidity and enjoy the rest. :)