Separation

I’ve been following the post over at Dear Author called What It Means to Be a Fan. I’ve read all the comments, many of which are thoughtful and well-considered. But I’m really not interested in the minute gradiations that separate fan from fangirl from fangrrrl to rabid fangirl and so on. It’s the comments more than the post itself that gave me food for thought. So rather than post a long rambling comment over there, I’m going to do it here. (I know, right? Cue the trumpets.)

Anyhow, Azteclady posted this: “You know, I think I’m more likely to become a fangrrrrrl of a writer who can, himself*, separate his* writing from his* identity as a person.”

That’s what I’m going to talk about today. I’m pretty sure I’ve touched on this before, but some things bear repeating. Some authors appear incapable of distinguishing criticism of their written words from personal attack. But I can’t stress enough how wrong that is. A book is not a person; it doesn’t have feelings to hurt. The author does. Duh, right?

But I’ve been surprised at how many authors take comments about their work very personally. I seldom come right out and say something is wrong — I’m a big one for live and let live — but look, this is asshattedness in the first degree. Just because someone doesn’t like something you wrote, that doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It doesn’t mean they’re making a value judgment about your intellect, hygiene, personal appearance, lifestyle or anything else.

Now sometimes readers do cross the line, and start making fun of somebody’s Glamour Shots author photo, the way her husband looks, her old-fashioned hairdo, or her weight. Those are personal attacks. No doubt about it. Unfortunately, as authors with something to sell, we have to show restraint in public and just let shit like that go.

But as long as the reader / reviewer is talking about the book, it’s not a personal attack. I don’t care how much you love the freakin’ thing, if it’s the story of your heart, or you overcame some fierce disability to finish / publish it. Does. Not. Matter.

And you know what? I just don’t have any sympathy for authors who complain readers are mean. How come? you might ask. Well, it’s like this — without those readers, we wouldn’t have jobs. Their money has enabled us to realize our lifelong dream of being published. No, we don’t have to kiss ass or agree with everything they say. Absolutely not. But we do owe it to ourselves to behave in a polite, professional manner.

Now I don’t know if all readers differentiate between being a fan of a certain book and a fan of an author. I’m sure for some people, it’s pretty much interchangeable. I know I have a tendency to want to believe that the person who wrote words that rocked my socks is also the coolest human on the planet. Thing is, if we start with positive expectation — our readers expect us to be smart, kind human beings — why not try to live up to it?

Yes, we’re all human, and nobody’s perfect, but it seems like a waste of time and effort to invest in this us vs them mentality. After all, aren’t we all in it for the books? People brought together by a common love for the written word can’t be so far apart, can they?

I welcome your thoughts on the matter.

Posted in writing

31 Responses to Separation

  1. Great post, Ann. We need a mantra–“It’s not about you, it about the book.” I know it’s hard to remember when an author is going through the experience, but we need to keep it in mind.

    Gwyneth

  2. Ella/L says:

    Sounds like it’s story time.

    Way back when, I wrote what I felt was the most AWESOME civil war story ever (in high school).

    We read our stuff aloud, and I thought hands down, mine was one of the best.

    My paper got a big fat D leveled on it, because of some lofty accusation that I may not have adhered to some regulations by which it was to be graded. (Pbbt.)

    (…Pbbbbbbbbt. Whatever.)

    Up until that point, I had never been more offended, was the feeling of my high school self. Until the next week, when some asshat may have compared my eyes to the color of mud, but I digress.

    Seriously, I have just compared authors complaining about criticism of their work to a high school tantrum. I wasn’t even being PAYED for my story. There was no cold, hard cash to lessen my misery! I was broke!

    I may have been sore, (even all this time later…I might hold a grudge…for extended periods of time)but that experience is one of the reasons I have become a better writer. Yes, maybe it’s because I can’t stand to see a D next to my work, but I think I churn out better stuff now than I ever did before that day. You take that salt worn wound and use it become better than before.

    So stop complaining and get to work. *cracks whip*

    That made sense right? What I said? Did I stay on topic?

  3. So true, Ann. It may be easier for me to distinguish because I am more inclined to be a ‘fan of a book’ than a ‘fan of an author’. It takes several kick ass books to get an author on my auto buy list. Not because I judge one of their books as ‘better’ than another. Certain stories and characters just ‘speak’ to me more.

    I’ve never thought, ‘huh, silly bitch’ if I read a book I didn’t think much of. But on the flip side of that if I see an author behaving like a silly bitch, I’m a whole lot less likely to ever pick up her book!

  4. azteclady says:

    Nothing to add really. Just wanted to hop on over here and say hi.

    Hi.

  5. Shirley says:

    I think you make good points, Ann. But here’s a turn around. How many times have you been called on a poor job -deserved or otherwise- that you didn’t take it personally? And in said instance(s), did you or did you not seek out others to share the experience with, culling those who didn’t see it your way and gathering those who sympathized? That’s pretty much exactly what happens when an author or artist in any vein is thrashed. Even if you stay strictly on topic in your post, hold only to your opinions of the book.

    I’m sure lots of folks will speak up and say “I never take it personally.” Fact is, that’s a lie. Whether it was getting yelled at for not getting that Big Mac put together fast enough, or not getting to a table fast enough, or missing a glaring typo on a memo, it doesn’t matter. Part of the human condition is that we, as people, tend to identify ourselves partially by what we do. So when we are criticized, we tend to take it personally, on some level or another. That’s just how it goes.

    Sure, some of us internalize and beat up on ourselves more than is necessary. Some of us vent outwardly, call names, be asshats (to use your word, LOL). Some are pissed briefly, then let it go. But we all take it personally. Hell, that’s why this blog drama stuff grows so big – because one poster ‘misunderstands’ another as an attack, whether it was in the mind of the poster or not, and a whole slew of folks gang up and commence with the beating. It’s entertaining, and attractive, because we can’t help but watch the worst parts of ourselves lash out and hurt other people. The human drama fascinates.

    But I’m an old lady, I guess. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Shirley

  6. azteclady says:

    Random thought: it’s not so much about whether you (the writer, or employee, or whatever) take any sort of criticism of your work personally at first blush.

    It is how you react to, and what you do with, it that matters.

    Publicly, by not whining about how unfair/stupid/biased/baseless/whatever said criticism is.

    Privately by working to separate yourselves from the work at least enough to objectively weigh the criticism on its own merits as it relates to your work.

    That’s how anyone improves job performance, isn’t it? If improvement is what one desires, of course.

  7. Lauren dane says:

    Random kid in my house: Moooooom! He said I was a poopoo head!
    Me: Are you a poo poo head?
    Him: No.
    Me: Well then who cares what he says, it doesn’t make it true.

    See? That’s my basic approach. Because yes, it sucks when someone crosses the line but it’s not the end of the world. Yes it sucks when not everyone loves my books but that’s not the end of the world when they don’t either. As long as I can keep on doing what I love to do, I save the commentary for IM with my friends. Because it’s not a thing in the big picture, not to me. I’m a lucky chick, doing this writing gig, I try not to let the little stuff maim me becuase God knows there’s plenty of big stuff to worry over.

  8. Marissa says:

    I feel I must tell the truth. I am a fangirl… of more than one author but mainly Nora Roberts, Sarah McCarty, and Susan Mallery. Talk badly about them and I’ll poke your eyes out. Snort. Kidding. I did, at one point, find myself being irrationally defensive when someone spoke badly about them, and then I realized, if they want to defend themselves, they will! They are adults for goodness sake and they can take care of myself.

    So, here we go….
    Hi, my name is Marissa and I’m a fangirl.

    Snicker.

  9. Shirley says:

    Azteclady said: “it’s not so much about whether you (the writer, or employee, or whatever) take any sort of criticism of your work personally at first blush.

    It is how you react to, and what you do with, it that matters.

    Publicly, by not whining about how unfair/stupid/biased/baseless/whatever said criticism is.

    Privately by working to separate yourselves from the work at least enough to objectively weigh the criticism on its own merits as it relates to your work.

    That’s how anyone improves job performance, isn’t it? If improvement is what one desires, of course.”

    Since I worked for quite some time in the medical field – as a charge nurse for quite several years – I feel like I can safely say that improving job performance hasn’t got anything to do with attitude and everything to do with aptitude. ROFL, in fact, from my experience, the worst behaved doctors and nurses are also the best at their jobs. So implying that acting better – improving how you take criticism – somehow gets one farther in life kind of seems like apples and oranges, unless you’re talking about heaven or something. I mean, Paris Hilton anybody?

    And I can tell by the question you posed, instead of just saying ‘gee, when you put it that way, I guess I can see what you mean’ that you have found yourself lashing out in your real life job over a slight, large or small, that you took exceptionally personally. Everybody deals with it differently, like I said. And aren’t most of these flame wars started because an author or fan gets a first look, or to quote you a ‘first blush’ at a piece and they respond with emotion and not necessarily logic? Then super zealous fans add fuel to the fire and voila! A flame/blog war.

    Personally, I think its a bit whack-o, getting so into an author that you’d run off like a rabid dog looking to bite. Nothing really needs that much of my energy, LOL! However, I’ve been attacked by fans for asking a simple question. You might remember, since I think you chimed in. See, I was honestly curious. There wasn’t a drip of vehemence in my comment. However, it was certainly construed that way, not just by the person I was asking, who called me a troll for doing so, but also for others in the comment trail.

    So like I said, it all depends on who is being attacked and who is coming to the defense. And I think if anyone were to read that honestly, there wouldn’t be an argument about it. Or an ‘I’m better than you and them because I’m smarter, and I certainly want to grow as a person, and eventually I’ll be so good that nothing anyone says will ever bother me’, which is a bit how your response seems. But wait, I’m getting it all wrong, right? I’m a troll because I’ve misunderstood, right? I must be some sort of problem starter, that isn’t what you said at all, right?

    And that’s my point in a nutshell. It’s all about interpretation. How I interpreted your words. How you interpret mine. And then it depends on how everyone else interprets it, who they like better, yadda, yadda, yadda. The net isn’t so much different from high school, except that there really isn’t much of a shame factor for really poor behavior, so people tend to really act a lot like their baser selves, showing less compassion and less manners.

    Again, I’m an old lady. I guess I don’t know much.

    And Ann, while it’d be nice to see less of the ‘us vs. them’ mentality, it’s also a part of the human condition. Most align themselves with like-minded folks, form groups of people they have things in common with, so when one group affronts another, well, this is kind of how life goes. It’s sad, but the list of proofs of this point is so long, it’d make this super long post even worse, LOL!

    Great post.

    Shirley

  10. Shirley says:

    See, I am old! I was attempting to quote aztec lady.

    As my grandson says all the time, my bad!

    Shirley

  11. azteclady says:

    Shirley, I’m hesitating to respond. That whole thing was directed at me?

    If it isn’t, please kindly disregard this. If it is…

    At one point you said, “And I can tell by the question you posed, instead of just saying ‘gee, when you put it that way, I guess I can see what you mean’ that you have found yourself lashing out in your real life job over a slight, large or small, that you took exceptionally personally.”

    If you can tell all that about me from “That’s how anyone improves job performance, isn’t it?” (since that is the only question I find in my own comment), I must applaud you.

    I am not an old lady myself, so I probably know very little about anything. Still, I happen to disagree with what you said.

  12. Ann Aguirre says:

    Shirley said:

    “So when we are criticized, we tend to take it personally, on some level or another. That’s just how it goes.”

    I think this is true in a raw state. I had to learn to disassociate myself from my writing. In time, I became less sensitive to what people said about my work. There’s a definite need to possess a thick skin in this line of work.

    I’m not sure I would apply what I said, across the board, to other jobs, however. If an ER doctor has a bad attitude, and a person has a broken leg, he’s not in a position to go shop around or heck, maybe do without treatment. So to my thinking, it’s not really the same thing.

    You do make valid points about like cleaving to like. That’s why the internet is full of so many small communities. There’s probably a sociology paper in that somewhere.

  13. Shirley says:

    There are, Ann, several. You could probably google anything from ‘mob mentality’ to ‘clique and culture’ to ‘human culture’ and find tons of stuff. I studied psychology, ugh, a looong time ago. It was helpful, especially when dealing with gang crime and large bar fights in the ER, but it applies across the board.

    And I wasn’t directing all of the long comment at aztec lady. I was using her post to make a point. Though she only asked one question, tone cannot be conveyed through words on a page. Any one could read her question and imagine her asking it in a snide, sly, uppity, snotty, etc, etc negatively connotated fashion, whether she meant it that way or not. Which is exactly how most blog wars start. They don’t, those I’ve seen, start with someone saying ‘you’re a nutty bitch and I hate you’, which is pretty hard to misinterpret.

    And you’re right, Ann. Folks in artistic jobs do need a thicker skin, so to speak. But needing it and having it are two very different things. Moreover, having it in truth and having it in public are also different. I read an article about Tom Cruise once, I think, where it said that he seems not to take any criticisms personally, but that in truth, he’ll scream, holler, get depressed, etc with friends and family for a long time. So just saying you’re skin is thicker, or acting it, doesn’t make it so.

    I’m old. My skin is thin, literally. But I’ve learned that it still hurts when I’m criticized, just as badly as it did when I was young. I’m better at letting go now, since life is truly short at my age, but it still hurts and I still get upset and I still rant.

    I don’t imagine I’m all that different from most.

    Shirley

  14. azteclady says:

    Shirley, talking about this with my S.O., I think that it does seem as if you and I are not really saying different things but more looking at the topic from different vantage points.

    Specifically about writers and other artists, the thick skin in the face of any kind of criticism is, I think, pretty much required. Whether it’s only in public, with much rending of vestments and other stuff in private, it’s actually irrelevant from the point of view of public relations–with their readers.

    Best known example in the romance community has to be Nora Roberts. I’m pretty sure that, being human, Ms Roberts has felt personally insulted and/or attacked by criticism of her books, of her behaviour, heck, even of her pictures (anyone remembers the tempest over the new JDRobb author photo?). Yet Ms Roberts consistently behaves professionally in public–both online and elsewhere.

    It is not a fair situation that readers can–and oh so very often do–cross all sorts of lines of respect, while writers are expected to behave professionally at all times. But then, not only as adults we all know that “life ain’t fair” but there’s also the fact that writers are selling something to their readers, and not the other way around.

    Did that made sense?

  15. Shirley says:

    Of course :) I’ve never meant to imply I didn’t see your point. I do, LOL, I was more playing devils advocate – showing the double standard that readers/fans hold in their minds regarding those in a more public eye. These authors, artists, actors etc aren’t supermen, they are real people. Which is one of the things I enjoy so much when fan wars erupt. The blatant, though generally unintentional, hypocrisy that arises on *both* sides.

    And as far as NR goes, well, again it depends on who you ask. Since she called me a troll because I asked, before the whole plagiarism fiasco, why she thought she should be the voice of romance, I have to say she hasn’t always comported herself in the best way. But she’s human, I wouldn’t expect any less. And while I didn’t particularly care for her tone, and I’ve never been a fan of hers, her comments did not make me think less of her – as a person or an author.

    Shirley

  16. Shirley says:

    Darn it, I hit submit –

    I meant to add I think that’s how fans should act. Realize that those we look to for entertainment are real live people, that sometimes do and say things that are inappropriate. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a choice made in an emotional moment should lead to them being persecuted by any one, other than themselves.

    Only truly poor behavior, and I’m old school so my limits are probably different, gets a tsking from me. Still, the books aren’t about the writer, for me, they’re about me, LOL. Entertaining me. So unless I find out someone is a mass murderer or something, it’s not really going to effect whether I buy their work or not.

  17. azteclady says:

    Shirley, you said above, “And as far as NR goes, well, again it depends on who you ask. Since she called me a troll because I asked, before the whole plagiarism fiasco, why she thought she should be the voice of romance, I have to say she hasn’t always comported herself in the best way.”

    Could you point me to that conversation?

    As for the human element: that’s why I said above that Ms Roberts consistently behaves professionally–which doesn’t equate with always, but as far as I’ve been able to witness, comes quite darned close.

  18. Ann Aguirre says:

    It is not a fair situation that readers can–and oh so very often do–cross all sorts of lines of respect, while writers are expected to behave professionally at all times. But then, not only as adults we all know that “life ain’t fair” but there’s also the fact that writers are selling something to their readers, and not the other way around.

    This sums up my thoughts perfectly, Azteclady.

    Shirley, what you said about Tom Cruise struck a knell with me. Have you heard about how he went apeshit on Oprah? If he had done that in the privacy of his own home, that’s one thing. But that sort of thing is what public figures (and authors qualify, whether we like it or not) should try to keep it under wraps.

    I understand some people just can’t grow a real thick skin. In those instances, it really is best to “fake it til you make it.”

  19. Shirley says:

    Hmm, I don’t know if I can, exactly, aztec lady. It went on in the comment list at Karen Scott’s blog, a while ago. I don’t remember, sorry but I am old, what the blog was about. The comment trail had to do with erotica, romance or not.

    She didn’t particularly like my questions, or the tone she thought I posed them in, of I suppose what she thought I was implying. And she let me know that by calling me a troll. Though, I suppose she could claim it wasn’t me precisely, she only posted the trolls were out, after one of my comments.

    And truthfully, she doesn’t always comport herself professionally. She’s one of the first to point out those she perceives as ‘trolls’. She’s one of the first to lash out at people who tell her to go screw herself, etc. But her actions are seen as ‘okay’ because of who she is, and who out there ‘respects’ her – which sometimes comes off to folks like me as a bit of sycophantic repetition, at least initially. You gotta remember that I’m new to the net, erotica, e-books, and blogs. All in the last year or so. I didn’t even have a computer, not one that could connect with the internet, until two years ago. I think. My son bought me a new one with all the gizmos and showed me email so we could keep in touch better. He’s a good boy.

    Sorry, I got off the train, LOL. I want you to understand I offer no tone or tinge or secret message in my comments. I’m not laying blame or pointing fingers at all. Everyone is human. Which is why I never took NR’s comments too deeply to heart. She assumed I was trying to say she was so arrogant, so ‘better than everyone else’, so important to the romance landscape that she’d comment on anything, even if she might better serve the community by declining.

    That wasn’t at all what I was asking, or what I thought I implied. I sincerely wanted to know if she thought speaking her opinion could have a negative reaction among those writers who *do* think erotica is romance? I wanted to know why the ‘media’ would ask her about erotica at all, since she doesn’t write anything close to it. She didn’t see it that way, and so things happened.

    You see, reading between the lines, so to speak, and misinterpreting isn’t something only “bad” fans and “bad” artists do.

    Shirley

  20. Shirley says:

    He did go apeshit, LOL! But it didn’t do smack for his standing in the community. And honestly, the boy is a bit off, Scientology and all. Jumping around on the couch got some laughs and odd looks, but his power didn’t suddenly run away. Nor does he have any less fans. And I just bet, if you checked out the blogs from people who adore him, anyone who said he was a loon got attacked.

    I think we’re all answering the question of good fan/bad fan from different points of view. Mine is you can’t point fingers at ‘trolls’ unless you’re willing to admit that from the other side, you yourself are the ‘troll’. And maybe, just maybe, if we all did that more none of the craziness would happen in the first place.

    I like the drama, so I’d kind of hate to see it stop, ha ha, I know it won’t. But it certainly would make people better on the whole, and I can’t say after seventy… years I wouldn’t like that!

    No, ladies, I know probably better than you that life isn’t fair. It surely isn’t. But life not being fair hasn’t got much to do with being a hypocrite. That’s something we chose to be ourselves and hasn’t got much in common with life being unfair.

    Shirley

  21. Ann Aguirre says:

    I’m sure you’re right about it not influencing his hardcore fans. But for those of us who just sort of liked his movies from time to time — depending on which ones — well, I’ll just say I don’t watch his stuff anymore.

    Because of all the stuff you mentioned. So people’s behavior does influence my buying habits. I don’t say everyone is like this, however.

  22. Nora Roberts says:

    Shirley, I’m going to have to disagree with you here, or at least with your memory. On the thread you refer to you repeatedly made it personal. You stated that writers like me were ‘shaken up’ by a certain type of erotica laying a claim to the Romance genre.

    You questioned my motives about my position on this particular subject matter–incest, blood play, etc, being included as Romance, and why I would exclude it if asked–as I often am–in interview.

    I responded to you a few times, and finally felt–and stated I felt–that it seemed you were reinterpreting my comments, and it was tiresome.

    And you got snippy, and again personal, and continually separated me out though there were many other writers commenting in the thread along the same lines as mine.

    And that’s when I called you a troll. I consider someone who seems bent on derailing a discussion into personalities trollish. But maybe I misunderstood, and I’ll apologize for that single remark.

    However, I didn’t claim I was the Voice of Romance–not in that thread or at any other time. I said I was often called upon to speak of the genre, often asked to define it or comment on it by the media.

    That’s just a simple fact.

    I don’t consider my response to you unprofessional. I don’t believe I’m often the first to lash out–but certainly would stand up for myself if someone told me ‘to go screw myself’.

    Why wouldn’t I?

    I really don’t believe you phrased your questions to me in that thread as you’ve phrased them above.

    To wind back around to the topic here, I think when a reader continually pokes and pokes, uses language designed to annoy or insult, the object of that focus is bound to poke back. Being professional doesn’t mean being spineless.

  23. Ann Aguirre says:

    In the interest of being able to place the discussion that’s been mentioned, I did a little Googling. Here’s the original post from Karen Scott’s blog, called Hell in a Handbasket.

    I’ve read over the comments; there are 120 of them! People were quite stirred up, it seems.

    Quick and dirty summary: The gist of it involves where kink becomes so profound that it skews out of romance and into something other. For Nora, cutting and blood play pushes a book out of romance. Shirley maintains even though it’s edgy, it should still be seen under the umbrella of erotic romance, if there’s a complete love story with a happy ending.

    I admit, my definitions here are somewhat fluid. The level of sexual kink doesn’t define the genre for me. In my opinion, it would depend on the setup. I’m not sure I could enjoy reading about a stock broker and a salesgirl who enjoy getting freaky with steak knives. But in a dark romance, where the hero and heroine are both brutal for plot-based reasons? (I reference Bettie Sharpe’s Like a Thief in the Night.) Yeah, that works for me big time.

    However, I do definitely have limitations as to what I want to read — my comfort zone if you will. I’ll toss water sports and scat play out. I’m not making a judgment on people who enjoy this sort of thing, but I just have no interest in reading it. Maybe someone could write a deeply compelling love story that contained those elements: deep, passionate, lyrical … but I’m still NOT reading it.

    In fact, in reading Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show, I was pretty much revolted to the Nth power when this dude performed what I’ll call “shit magic”, using his own fecal matter to summon up some beasties. You know that’s like ALL I can remember about the book? Seriously yuck — and I had been a big fan up until that point.

    General footnote on that discussion: Shirley referenced VC Andrews as writing about a lot of taboo subjects in her books, which sold phenomenally well. She did tap the forbidden for her market, but I wouldn’t classify her books as romance. I’d lean toward Gothic / horror.

  24. azteclady says:

    (Ann, my apologies for sorta hijacking the thread here. Please do feel free to shut me up whenever I cross your line.)

    Shirley, perhaps we are back to the fact that text doesn’t convey all nuances of speech–or, was Candy at the SBs says, ‘text strips emotion,’ or perhaps in this case, it adds emotion.

    I just re read the thread in question, to which I commented apparently only once by the way. And upon reading the entire thing in one gulp, what I get is that you directed your comments specifically to Ms Roberts in a fairly personal and aggressive manner.

    “Authors like you” “It is about your books” “Your comments… trying to chastise”

    Similarly, in this thread, when you quoted my comment, and then said, “And I can tell by the question you posed, instead of just saying ‘gee, when you put it that way, I guess I can see what you mean’ that you have found yourself lashing out in your real life job over a slight, large or small, that you took exceptionally personally.” That felt directed at me in a manner that, I thought, wasn’t warranted by my own comment.

    Perhaps something to consider?

  25. Ann Aguirre says:

    I don’t mind thread hijacking at all. That’s what makes an organic discussion. I consider it a compliment when something I wrote develops a lively tangent.

    Play on!

  26. Shirley says:

    *sorry, Ann, I forgot the ‘ia’ on my other email address thingies. I only noticed when my granddaughter pointed out I gave her the wrong one yesterday in an email*

    You’re absolutely right, aztec lady. You can’t convey tone at all. I didn’t bother to go back and read what I wrote because I know how I felt at the time. Regardless of whether Ms. Roberts or you took the comments personally, they weren’t intended as such. We can’t convey our feelings in words alone. Even if I’d tried to clarify what, or rather, how I was saying things, by the time I was labeled a ‘troll’ no one would have honestly bothered to pay attention. And arguing in comments, while exciting to read, really takes lots of time. I’ve no doubt my words could be quoted to look ugly, but there wasn’t any ugliness in them when I typed them. And if I am speaking ‘to’ someone, I tend to use the proper pronouns. So ‘her books’ and ‘her comments’, well I was speaking ‘to’ her. For example, I think all those dots between comments and chastising might have overlooked the between part, where I think I said her comments could be ‘interpreted’ as chastising. Kind of changes the meaning a little.

    Then again, when one plays devils advocate – as I was doing at the time – comments are generally misconstrued. As I said, I don’t blame NR for calling me a name, or getting crappy, or somewhat avoiding giving an answer to a question she didn’t really want to answer. It is a catch 22, and no matter how she answers there are people who will be upset by what she says.

    I think the better thing to look for in that comment trail or string or whatever its called, LOL, is the vehemence and ugliness that was directed at me for even asking. Some attempted to stay calm, others didn’t even try, but because I asked something the group found ‘out of bounds’, because NR called me a troll, then I must have been a troll. Her words became a fact for those moments in the eyes of the commentors. I’ve been called much worse, as I believe I said, in my years, but look how the mass glommed onto that immediately.

    That’s the real point. Whether fans or not, anyone can get attacked by a larger group on the internet in a fashion that simply would not be tolerated in the real world. The whole thing can be twisted or turned so it looks how anyone wants it to look. And that’s both to the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. I mean, lets be honest, things get misinterpreted all the time. To make a *crazy* analogy, blog wars are sometimes like religion. The Bible, Koran, Talmud(I’m probably messing that one up) have been hijacked, misquoted, and outright misinterpreted to support all kinds of things, good and bad.

    I really wasn’t trying to ‘heat’ things up over here, Ann. I don’t know if I have, but for what it’s worth, I’m actually enjoying this calm discussion where my comments weren’t immediately interpreted as ‘evil’. And look, no troll tossing, LOL! I was only talking about my personal experience and how I perceived what happened as it related to your topic.

    And I don’t fault NR for her actions. I accept the apology, though I don’t really think it’s necessary. I simply don’t agree with aztec lady that NR is always a consummate professional. She’s professional, but she’s human, and she does and says things that aren’t always ‘good’. I don’t fault her for that one bit, and in this old lady’s opinion, it makes her quite likable. Who wants to talk to a mouthpiece that is constantly watching for possible negative PR? That’d be pretty boring.

    I was more fascinated by the by play of the events than by our (NR and I) actual conversation. Because the mass rose up to defend NR from my perceived attack, exactly like so many of those targeted – and I only use that word because it’s what is so often used by others, not for any perceived connotation – by K’s blog, but no one seemed to notice it when *they* could have been seen as the party guilty of fangirly-ness.

    I don’t act any differently on this blog than I do anywhere else in net-lic (ROFL, that what I call internet public, my grandkids think its hilarious). I’m not the argumentative kind, but I do like debate and good conversation so I usually speak up on the devil’s side, as my DH used to say, an awful lot. Hopefully, that doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ lady.

    Shirley

  27. azteclady says:

    Well, I did spend some time reading again the entire comment thread over at Karen Scott’s, and honestly? I disagree with your current take on it. There were other people arguing from your side of the fence, some of them rather passionately, only none of them personalized his/her observations towards Ms Roberts, which is probably why Ms Roberts didn’t react towards them personally. *You* did, and Ms Roberts reacted accordingly.

    As for taking your words out of context, I guess I’ll just quote longer bits:

    ~Your comments read more to me like someone who trying to chastise without actually doing any serious PR damage. Not of course that you’d need to worry. It’s a catch 22 isn’t it – if you say you don’t possible have enough weight in the community to sway opinion, it looks a bit hypocritical after the bit about having to comment to the media.

    ~And if you say you can sway opinion, then you sound like an egomaniac and it sure does make me wonder why you’d be saying what you’ll have to tell the reporters, when they ask, that erotica isn’t romance, erotica is it’s own genre.~
    (That bit is at the end of comment 102 over there–I don’t know how to make pretty links, sorry)

    As far as I know, Ms Roberts hasn’t been asked whether erotica is or isn’t romance, but, rankly, I think that given the fact that the press just asked Ms Roberts her opinion on the CE plagiarism issue, there’s no arguing the likelihood that if the labeling of erotica vis a vis romance ever arose, the press *would* contact Ms Roberts and ask for her take. Stating a fact that’s been proven over and over by previous experience doesn’t an egomaniac make.

    On a personal note: the repeated mention of your age, Shirley, makes me uncomfortable because, I can’t see what bearing it has on the conversation. Further, I found it antagonistic when you called Ms Roberts “young lady” on that same thread at Karen Scott’s (Quote: “There isn’t any reinterpreting going on from my end, young lady.” comment 109) It seemed to me a manipulative way of ‘putting her in her place” which is in itself disrespectful, IMO. Whether you are older than Ms Roberts by a day or a lifetime, it was–and still is–irrelevant to the topic at hand. Just as it is here.

  28. Nora Roberts says:

    ~I sincerely wanted to know if she thought speaking her opinion could have a negative reaction among those writers who *do* think erotica is romance? I wanted to know why the ‘media’ would ask her about erotica at all, since she doesn’t write anything close to it~

    Let me say, that’s not how I read your questions and remarks, or how I think they were phrased–and I really thought I had answered this.

    But happily conceding that misunderstandings happen, here are the answers.

    I don’t think my opinion would cause a negative reaction among writers who think the type of erotica that was under discussion is part of the genre. And even if it did, it’s still my opinion that it’s not. There were writers and readers who disagreed with my opinion–and some who did agree.

    Why would the press ask me about Erotica when I don’t write it? Search me, but they do. I *have* been asked my thoughts on Erotica by the press. Repeatedly. I’ve been asked, also, about my thoughts and opinions on Erotic Romance–which I don’t write either.

    My statement was I’m asked, and if and when I am, I’d say that I don’t believe Erotica is Romance. I do believe Erotic Romance is one on the spoke on the wheel of the Romance genre. There is a difference to me, this is my opinion. And if asked for it, I give it.

    I wasn’t dodging the question, as I’d said the above in the thread on Karen’s blog. Others said essentially the same–before and after I did. But you didn’t single them out as you did me. And after awhile, I took offense.

    I’ll accept that no offense was intended, and that should put an end to it.

    Clean slate.

  29. Nora Roberts says:

    I want to add a thank you, Ann, for letting us hash this out here.

  30. Ann Aguirre says:

    I too agree that there’s a difference between Erotica and Erotic Romance. Though this may be an oversimplification, I think that in Erotica, the sexual journey / discovery is the focus whereas in Erotic Romance, the focus is still on the relationship, however explicit or kinky the book may prove to be. And erotic romance must have a happy ending. That’s just not negotiable.

    As for thanking me, it’s my pleasure. In my experience, sharing of ideas is usually a good thing; it’s when talking stops that there’s an insurmountable problem.

  31. Shirley says:

    That I can see, though the clarification between erotica and erotic romance is still kind of confusing to me, LOL, but Ann I think you gave the clearest explanation I’ve seen.

    I’m glad the slate’s clean, though I truly mean what I said: I wasn’t offended, nor did I intend any affront. It’s okay to get mad. We all do :)

    Shirley

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