Friday, 8 June 2012
A reflection on two weeks of social netsquabbling
I don't usually complain. Well, maybe I do but I try not to complain too much on here. I want my blog to be light, interesting, informative and sometimes it is ...sometimes it isn't. Above all I am determined it won't be nasty. I never use it to demean other writers or blast other people's opinions because, quite frankly, it isn't in me to do so.
I hope that the people who visit this page are, or will soon become, my friends and that they feel that way too. Those people who don't like it here, don't have to come back. That is the beauty of a free world.
The same applies to my books. You don't have to like them, you can just take them to a charity shop, pass them on to someone you don't like much or, if you really hate them, put them in the bin. That is your choice. I read lots of books that aren't to my taste but you won't see me shouting to the world that they are 'crap' and the author has no idea what she is talking about. Courtesy, it seems, is a dying art.
It isn't just my books and opinions that have received some harsh criticism lately, the social networking sites that I visit have been awash with snide, sometimes vicious comments about self publishing, historical accuracy, the correct positioning of a comma and it all leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Everybody seems to think they know it all and leave no room for other opinions or other agendas. A very good friend and fellow writer of mine was in tears the other day over some spiteful comment from a so-called reviewer and, whereas she might not be the best writer in the world, you tell me who is.
There seems to be a new way of reading these days. It isn't enough to open a book and appreciate the story for what it is. No, we must all look for reasons to call it 'shit.' We ignore the prose, the engaging characters, the rich, heady atmosphere and squeal in disgust, 'Oh my, look that comma shouldn't be there and the stupid author hasn't justified the margins!' If you walk through a lovely park or garden looking for dog pooh, dog pooh is all you will see.'
We all write for different reasons, some of us want to educate our readers, some of us want to make them feel all warm inside and some of us want to provide escapism, some of us want to make them laugh. For every type of writer there is a group of readers who will love their work and look forward to each new publication. Even I have a trusty little band of followers who constantly ask me 'when my next one will be out.' You see, it takes all sorts. Equally there will be those that don't enjoy it. and that is fine. So if your thing is fantasy or high brow history don't label steamy romance as 'crap' just because it isn't to your taste. And that works both ways. Everyone is different. It might be a good idea if some of the people who spend their days nitpicking other people's work, sat down and attempted to write their own perfectly formatted, historically accurate, realistic, expensively bound, grammatically perfect novel. I, for one, will buy it like a shot.
The one thing that all writers do share (even crappy little self-published no-naughts) is that they all want to improve their writing. That is what good writers do everyday. They sit at their computer and strive to get better. Writing is a learning curve, a pretty harsh one sometimes and ALL writers need help and support to be the best they can.
When my children were small, if they made something or wrote a story, I told them how marvelous the good bits were and then pointed out how the not so good bits could be improved. I didn't slap their hands and tell them they were useless. That is what I think the writing world needs. Self-publishing and e-books aren't going to get away and, yes, the standard needs improving but there are ways and means of achieving that. Ok, some of us have a long way to go but it is a road we all travel together and, it seems to me, that driving past in fancy juggernauts and splashing the little people with mud isn't the best way to go. Why not pull over and offer them a lift instead?
Please excuse the typos :)