Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hate Propagates - Lets Be Writers-in-Arms

I've been trying to figure out for a long time why, as a group, writers seem so determined to either stifle any Writer who holds a different viewpoint, or slay any Writer who doesn't live up to whatever standard that individual has determined to be appropriate.

I read it all the time in blog comments and it really bothers me.  Seriously.

Then this morning Rachelle Gardner wrote a post about Readers being the true key to writerly success...  (Bravo!).  However the comments of that blog quickly turned into another debate regarding self-publishing vs. traditional.  (*Raspberry*)

Also, I was kindly re-tweeted a few politically-minded tweets from someone who clearly doesn't know where I sit on the political spectrum.  Rather than hating on anyone, I just clicked through to block the original tweeter to make sure anything else from them wouldn't show up on my feed... and discovered they had more followers than I did. 

That surprised me.  Not because it's uncommon for people to have more followers than me, but because my brain had a conversation without permission that went something like this:

Why does a hater like that have more people interested in what they have to say than I do?

Because people who polarize others are attractive in the same way a car-accident makes us all slow down to look.  Remember those blog-posts you wrote, when someone accused you of using controversy to drive blog-traffic?

Yes, but I wasn't doing that.

Doesn't matter.  The subject was emotional for people.  They can't just sit back and watch it happen.  They have to get involved. 

But they aren't just 'getting involved'.  They're Hating.

Haters are the best ones.  They make everything dramatic.  Whether you agree with them or not, they're fun to watch.  They draw the numbers.

Haters propagate.


*Cut to mental slide-show of reality tv shows where the most popular 'characters' are the ones who create the most drama.*

What's my point?

Well, I'm hoping we can all start asking ourselves why we get so up in arms about other writers who disagree with us.  Is it because these issues are important - or because we're drawn to the drama? 

Can we really expect to change someone else's mind when we hold to our own views with such vitriolic glee?  It seems to me, even the slightest insinuation from any blogger that another group of writers might have it wrong unleashes a torrent of accusations or abuse.

- Traditionally published vs. Self-published.
- Literary vs. Commercial or Genre
- Adult vs. YA
- Your debate of choice HERE

Pick a fence, choose a side and start slaying.

The problem is, no one is denegrating writers except other writers.

And can I say, that it looks to me like even when writers aren't denegrating other writers... other writers often think they are? 

To wit:  In that post on Rachelle Gardner's blog the real focus was the future of publishing and who would end up coming out 'on top'... (her answer: whoever gives the readers what they want).  But, as usual, the comments section has turned into an 'Us vs. Them' of traditional vs. self-publishing.

The thing is, there's a comment buried in there which, I think, raises the right point:

The commenter's name is Sophie.  He / She discusses (very well, in my opinion) some of the attitudes regarding traditional publishers as 'Gatekeepers'.  In relation to how good a job these Traditional 'Gatekeepers' do, he / she says:

"...Their guess is little better than the average joe (arguably better, because they spend their time reading books, but arguably also worse, because spending your time reading books makes you picky about things normal people don't care about)."

And that, dear writer friends of mine, cuts to the core of this issue.

In the end, whether you're traditional published, self-published, adult or ya, literary or genre... it's the reader who will determine your level of achievement.  Not other writers.  Not the publisher (or lack-thereof).  We can argue until we're blue in the face, but it's the numbers that are the litmus test.

So, rather than trying to push each other to the floor to give ourselves a higher podium, why don't we just listen to what readers are saying?  Why slam each other when we could be helping bolster each other up?

Hate propagates.  You can troll and burn and criticize as much as you like.  And maybe you'll gather a following of like-minded haters who applaud every acid word twanging off your keyboard.  You'll certainly build a platform that way... but what makes you think that platform will be any more loyal to you, than you are to the other writers you're hating on?

Haters fuel Haters.  Building a following of Haters won't further your career one iota if your book sucks.  They'll just start Hating on you.
So maybe we should all try to be Helpers instead.  Listen to each other.  Advise each other.  Applaud everyone's effort and celebrate anyone's success.
That's the writing circle I'd like to belong to.
What about you?


  1. I'm with you! All for one and one for all! There is space in this vast and wonderful world of ours for all our voices to be heard! Why can't we be happy for someone else's success, rather than "hating" how they got there (self-pubbed vs traditional, Literary vs commercial and so on)

    It's such a waste of energy to worry about that. As you say, it's the readers you make or break a writer. And ANY writing path is hard hard hard- so let's work together, arm-in-arm, and use our energy in a positive way.

    I'm wholly with you on this Aimee! I choose to be a Helper not a Hater!

    Judy, South Africa

  2. Very well-said, Aimee! In the end, it's the readers who will decide. We need to support each other and not be haters.

    Great post!

  3. Great post Aimee. I've heard a lot of hating in the writing community but I've also seen much support. You're right sometimes people just gravitate to drama. And that's what the haters are serving unfortunately. There will always be some level of "hating" but if we individually strive for positivity then the writing community can be a haven instead of a soap opeara.

  4. Point made! I agree whole heartedly, as I always feel women are the biggest (apparently) haters of women.

    "Why can't we all, just get along!"

  5. I actually think writers are often too nice to each other, especially published writers. Let's say you're a midlist author, and a big name is out there publishing actively repugnant material. Say it's a genre book but it reeks of sexism, or what have you. Does the midlist author stay silent? You bet they do. (for the most part) If a popular niche author acts the fool and starts burning bridges? Most people will pat their ass instead of putting them in their place. I agree, whenever people start morphing in to trolls instead of just passionate debaters, there's a problem. But I see too much blind community and not enough discerning criticism.

  6. Aimee, I think you make some good points, but you're ignoring the fact that writers are often some of the most voracious readers out there. Like the traditional publishing gatekeepers that Sophie mentioned in his/her comment, I consider myself a critical reader because I spend so much time reading books -- and because I know how much work it takes to write one. I don't think my critical reading makes me a divisive person, but rather a discerning one.

    That said, I think some of the divisiveness comes from the fact that we live in a consumer-driven society, and authors are, ultimately, trying to sell a product. As wonderful as it is to receive support from other writers, they are, in a certain sense, the competition. While I don't agree with the hatred, I can see how a writer stressed out over sales and profits might start taking potshots at others who've gained success through alternative methods.

    All in all, a very thought-provoking post, and I hope you don't mind if I re-tweet it!

  7. I've read a lot of books I didn't like. There are writers whose works I even avoid. However, there is no reason, in my opinion, that another writer should bemoan or demean a fellow writer's ideas.

  8. It's never right to take shots at other writers who are more successful simply because they're more successful. It happens, but that doesn't mean it's right.

    If one writer isn't successful, it's not because someone else has pushed them off the ladder.

    I wrote a post once which garnered some pretty acidic comments. I was really upset, to the point where I bleated momentarily on Twitter and a bunch of my lovely Tweeps hit my blog with some nice comments.

    As you say, we're all in this together. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they should voice it with respect and courtesy. It's possible to have a debate without it descending into name-calling.

    The problem with 'discerning criticism' is that there aren't any exams you can take to show that you are a discerning critic. All you have is your own experience and reading is a very subjective thing. What Sophie the commenter said goes for everyone who puts themselves in a position of authority regarding the quality of books: you really only have their word and opinion on whether it's any good. Everyone will have a different opinion. Accepting that we are each only one person with one opinion would go a long way, I think.

  9. Awesome post! I think this happens in every industry: people lose focus of the end goals and get too involved in the politics. For me as a writer, the end goals are: establishing a prolific brand and getting quality books in the hands of readers. Any effort not furthering these goals - and any effort spent slamming others who do things differently - is wasted effort. My opinion. :-) Lizzy Ford

  10. Ah...the jealousy of the craft. I think that has much to do with the "hating". We're all trying to get attention away from one another so that the "right" person will agree with us, check out our blog and sign us to a book deal. Right?

    Just a little FYI...I belong to that "helpers" writer's group. And it is amazing. I feel we're all becoming improved writers as a result.

  11. *stands*

    I love you (and not in that creepy stalker way, I promise). Thoughts along these lines inspired me to do a Week of Nicetude a while back on my blog, applauding those bloggers who were full of Nice.

    Good on you. :)

  12. Wow! What a great article! I am so going to subscribe to you, Aimee. If you as a writer have a story that draws in readers, then other writers should applaud your acheivement and strive to earn some of their own. By far this was an excellent post and has made my day! :-)

  13. p.s. I added you to my blog roll of Bloggers High in Niceness Coefficient. :)

  14. Great post, Aimee!
    You are so right...we need to be helpers, not haters.

    Sharon :)

  15. The mind reels. You admit to blocking a tweeter whose political opinions you disagree with in an article decrying hate.

  16. Aimee responding here - Blogger is having a Brain Fart:


    When I talk about haters here, I mean people who force their opinions on others in abrasive and aggressive ways. I don't believe blocking someone is hating. I made no response to that person or their statements.

    But the truth is, I didn't block them for their political opinions. I blocked them because they were spewing hate and derision on people who held similar political philosophies to my own.

    I don't mind hearing measured opinions that disagree with mine. I despise disrespect and personal attacks on people or groups based on philosophical issues.

    Regarding your point though, I have no problem admitting I'll avoid reading tweets and blogs that I don't have time for. I'm confident where I stand on a lot of issues. There are some debates I don't think are worth engaging in anymore.

  17. I was in no way abrasive or aggressive in what I said, so I don't see why my reply was deleted. I simply spoke another side of the story. I did not speak any hate or derision, either. So, I'm a little confused here. Did you delete because I didn't agree and because I had something to back me up?

  18. Aimee Responding again - stupid Blogger:

    Hi Greta,

    No, that wasn't why I deleted it. If you'd like to email me, I'd be happy to explain. I just couldn't find any way to contact you privately and would prefer to have the conversation that way.

    My email is at the top right of the blog if you want to drop me a line.