20 July 2013

Against the Negative Grain

Times are tough as a writer. Some people might argue that we’re in the golden age of writing, but it’s just the opposite.

How can I state such a thing?

Consider this.

Positives – We have self publishing. We have the internet to allow easy access to many books that we maybe didn’t have before. We’ve got international communities of writers who help and support each other.

Lots of great positives… Now what about the other side of the coin.

Negatives – The internet provides a venue for any reader to write their opinion on a book they’ve read. With the lack of editors, self publishing puts out both gems as well as fools’ gold. Among the international communities, you have bullies and people with God complexes demanding that things be done Their way.

Yeah, okay so I created a balance there. However, let me add one more.

The author now has the ability to respond to any review written, to the reviewer, immediately.

Some of you might say “But that’s a positive!”

Um, HELL no.

Consider in the old days, when reviews were limited to newspapers. A reviewer could write their opinion and let the world marvel at their prose. If a writer wanted to respond, they had to take time from their own writings to pen an actual letter. They had time to consider what to say, or if it was worth saying.

The Author’s Big Mistake™ didn’t really exist unless they melted down at a convention or other public venue. Then it was limited in scope.

Now? That mistake goes global in a viral minute, as others point and stare/laugh/pile on to the author’s shame.

I’m sure you’re looking at this and shaking your head. I’ve covered this material before, in other postings. So let me get to the point and the reason for the post’s title.

As writers, we shouldn’t immediately hack at our fellow writers. We’re going to suffer enough negative ink (pixels? J) over our writing lifetime from rejections, poor reviews, and emails from enraged fans. Other writers should understand our pains, offer shoulders to cry on. We should act as voices of reason. Hell, we should understand what the other writer wants when they say “Here, read this.”

I’m not suggesting we need to coddle each other. No one would learn anything if we did that! Everyone has to make the mistakes to learn from them. Our job, as fellow writers, is to befriend writers. Maybe we don’t need to make them our besties, but we do need to bring them to a point where we trust their words and they trust ours. As writers, that’s important.

I suggest a writers’ support group, which isn’t a writing based group. No critiques, no discussion of the craft. No, this would be more of a social group. A place for writers to share their triumphs (I GOT PUBLISHED!) and their failures (I’m at 90 rejections and counting.) But it wouldn’t be limited to just their writing issues. We’d also support each other through problems with addiction, family squabbles, and friendship issues. Could a writing relationship build out of this group? Sure, nothing says it can’t. But it wouldn’t be the sole purpose of the group.

The idea is to balance and reduce the negativity the world throws at the modern writer. Because the more positive we have, the better our prose can become. I’d love to hear others thoughts on this.

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