No, this post isn’t about that. It’s actually sort of an addendum to my earlier post about the to-do at Romancing the Blog.
There’s another little mess a-brewing. Some woman posted a negative review of Jennifer LaBrecque’s Blaze book, Highland Flings, on Amazon. So Jennifer, in a sweet, classy move, offered to refund the reviewer’s money at the RWA convention.
It should have ended there.
Of course, it didn’t. Why? Because the Everybody’s Special Especially Us Romance Writers Crew had to leap on in and start bitching. (I’m making these up, because I don’t want to quote anybody, so these are composites, if you will):
It takes a lot of talent to write a book. That reviewer doesn;t know what we go through. It’s hard work.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.
It’s a good book because it’s a published book.
The value of the book lies in the work the author put into it, not in how good one person thinks it is.
Oh my GODS. Shut UP you miserable, whiny little soft-porn Pollyannas! Every time something says something bad about anyone or anything, you all have to leap in like a bunch of frigging Southern Baptists at a gay wedding and Put A Stop To All This Meanness Before Somebody’s Precious Feelings Get Hurt.
Instead of pulling out those dumb-assed platitudes about how special we all are, why not remember an even better, more valid life lesson, about how to be a good loser? About how not everyone is your friend (I’m sure as fuck not)? About how not everyone likes the same things?
See, the thing is, I know you bitches. I went to high school with you. We all went to high school with you. You insisted then that we all conform and like what you liked, and you’re still fucking doing it now. It’s shit like this that totally stifles intellectual debate, that makes it impossible for people to disagree but still appreciate the value of another person’s opinion. It’s shit like this that reinforces the stereotype that romance writers are a bunch of miserable, PMS-ridden morons who wear nothing but pink and teach their kids that if they get the answers wrong, they’ve still succeeded. Well no they haven’t, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let you people turn the public image of romance writers into some simpering, babyish Niceness Monitors in fluffy pink cars, surrounded by hair-bow-wearing minions like the fucking Stepford Scribes or something.
Ladies (and I use the term loosely, because where I come from a lady allows other people to think independently), when we write a book we have to expect there will be people who don’t like it. More than that, if all we ever get from readers is “nice things” then we never know how to reach a bigger audience. This is how people actually learn. Do I expect that everyone will like my work? Fuck, no. Does it hurt when they don’t? Of course it does. But, as I have pointed out so many times before, my work is not me. Just because someone doesn’t like my voice or my story doesn’t mean they’ve said they don’t like me. And you know what? Fuck ’em if they did.
I put my work out there. I hope people like it. If they don’t, I wonder why. But that’s as far as it goes. Frankly, I’m a little too busy to spend my days chasing them around cyberspace to tell them how mean they are. (Although I do agree that if you’re trying to get published, criticizing the work of the house you’re subbing to may not be the best idea.) And really, I don’t have the right to insist they keep their damn mouths shut if they don’t like it. Because once I put it out there, it’s not mine anymore. It becomes the property of the readers. (Yes, technically it’s mine, but you know what I mean.) They can use my book as toilet paper if they so desire and it’s none of my business.
It’s the arrogance of these people that stuns me. Once we start insisting that readers don’t review our books unless they’re going to be positive, where does it end? “And don’t read my book if you haven’t showered yet. Or if you’re…answering nature’s call (that’s as close to a toilet joke as you’re ever going to get from me, btw). Or if your hands are smudgy. Don’t read it if you don’t watch Nip/Tuck, because I like Nip/Tuck and you’d better like it to if you expect me to deign to allow you to read my precious words. If you are over 40, don’t read my book. If you are a manual laborer, you will likely not understand my book so I would prefer you not read it.” (That isn’t my opinion, just to clarify.)
Contempt for the readers and their opinions? Fuck you. The readers are why we’re here. If you don’t like it, why don’t you pick another career, you pussy? Why not take your own sage greeting-card advice and keep your mouth shut?
Jennifer LaBrecque has style. She took it on the chin and kept smiling. That’s the way we should all be.