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.
*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?