What Stace had to say on Monday, February 9th, 2009
Oh…sigh

And sigh again.

I wasn’t going to talk about this, I really wasn’t. Because I don’t want to piss off or upset people. I certainly don’t want to make readers, the lovely people who spend money on books, angry with me.

But I just…It’s like the opinion is a pot of coffee, percolating in my chest, and it’s going to explode. (Incidentally, I feel kind of weird thinking that nobody uses percolators anymore. My parents were never coffee drinkers, but my Grandpa was. And when he would come visit the smell of coffee and especially the sound of the percolator, that particular burble-sploosh noise, would wake me up in the mornings. I used to really like it; I was fascinated by the percolator and could never figure out quite how it worked, you know? All those childhood machines that seemed like magic to me, and none of them are in use anymore. The percolator, the 8-track tape, the flashlight that ran because of how fast you squeezed the trigger thingie…anyway. No time for this; this is going to be a little long anyway.)

So everybody knows about this Stephen King/Stephenie Meyer thing. Basically, Mr. King said in an interview that Ms. Meyer “can’t write worth a darn.”

And for reasons I cannot fathom, it’s being treated like he said Hitler was a really good guy or something, or that in his spare time he enjoys molesting children.

Leaving aside the truth or lack thereof of his statement itself, and leaving aside the fact that although he claimed Meyer can’t write worth a darn he did say he understood the appeal of the books…

So what?

There seem to be two schools of thought among the “Fry him! FRY HIM!” crowd. The first is that he’s jealous of Meyer’s success, which is, IMO, patently ridiculous. Stephen King is arguably the most successful writer the world has ever seen (and no, you cannot bring up the people who wrote the Bible or the Talmud of the Koran or whatever). No, I’m serious. Think about it for a minute. How long has the man been writing bestsellers? How many of his books or stories have been made into major films? Adapted for television? Turned into series? How many of those film adaptations have garnered Oscar nominations in any category?

Now think of one other author, living or dead, which that kind of success. ONGOING success. I suppose it’s possible to argue that JK Rowling hits it, but King’s written something like thirty books. JKR has not. Tolkein had massive, unprecedented success, but again, not as many books.

So the idea that Stephen King is jealous of Stephenie Meyer is silliness. I’m sorry but it is, and there’s another reason why it is, and it ties into my whole feeling about this.

I suspect womanhood has something to do with it, yes I do. And that something is, everyone saying these things seems to be female, and more importantly, seems to be upset not that one writer is commenting on another writer’s work, but that the commenting writer has a protruding pee-pee and the one being commented on does not.

I know.

King said some not-very-nice things about a few male writers in that article too, but nobody seems to be jumping up and down all over the internets to say how Mr. King is just jealous of Mr. Patterson. In fact, no one seems at all bothered by the fact that not only did King call Petterson “a terrible writer,” he didn’t even qualify that statement anywhere by saying he sees the appeal of Patterson’s work, or that Patterson has very cleverly tapped into something in his audience’s collective subconscious.

So…why? Why does it seem okay for King to criticize Patterson, but not Meyer? Why isn’t anyone throwing “jealous” around?

Yeah. I think a big part of it is that Meyer is a woman. And I think there is a very ugly assumption beneath this, which is that a woman cannot take criticism. And sadly, I think there is a segment of the female writing “society,” for lack of a better term, which truly cannot take criticism, who flounce around saying things like “If you’ve never written a book you can’t criticize” or “It’s hard work to write a book and the author deserves something for that and it’s mean to say her book isn’t very good” or whatever other whiny little excuses these namby-pambies toss around to justify their own total and complete lack of professionalism.

We’ve seen these people online. We see them all the freaking time, in fact. They’re the ones who stalk Amazon reviewers or decide to name transexual AIDS-riddled prostitutes after people who give them mediocre reviews (and let’s keep in mind, btw, what sort of person thinks “transexual” is a worthy insult) or send nasty emails to reviewers or start blogs where they put up nasty cartoons or send hate mail or have hissy fits in comments or whatever the fuck it is, and thus make all female writers look as though we too have never progressed beyond the 9th grade.

This attitude seriously makes me ill. You know what, gang? I seriously doubt Stephenie Meyer gives a fuck what Stephen King says. And good, because she shouldn’t. I love Stephen King. I think he’s fantastic. And I would love to think he’d read my work and enjoyed it; that would be a huge thrill. But you know what? if he loved it, that’s just one man’s opinion. And if he hated it? That’s still just one man’s opinion.

And jealous? Why is this argument so rarely brought up when two men are involved? Why do we hardly ever see someone claiming, for example, that Steve Jobs is just jealous of Bill Gates? or that, I don’t know, Javier Bardem is just jealous of Benicio del Toro? Not that I’m aware of these men making comments about each other, but really, can you imagine it? So why then, does this crap come up when women are involved? Stephen King is a grown man, people, and I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen anything before that would lead me to believe he’s the kind of man for whom jealousy of other writers is a problem. Have you?

Stephenie Meyer is a published author; she’s written four enormous bestsellers. Let’s give her a little credit, shall we? Let’s assume she’s mature enough to shrug this off and go on writing, and not behave as though she’s crying in the bathrooms by the gym and she won’t come out until Stephen writes her a note that says he’s sorry and gee, golly, the dance is tonight and she was our ride and we’re gonna get Stephen and pants him in the cafeteria?

We’re all entitled to our opinions. (In fact, one could argue that Meyer is one of the few people Stephen King can actually criticize *without* looking like a bully; who else is big enough?) And in the grand scheme of things, this is such a non-issue it’s not even funny.

I was going to tell you about a book I bought the other day, which I haven’t finished, but which is so well-written my jaw keeps literally dropping open–but that will have to wait until next Monday, because this is so long already. Sigh.

16 comments to “Oh…sigh”

  1. Robyn
    Comment
    1
    · February 9th, 2009 at 4:41 pm · Link

    Sort of like those endless mag headlines about the Angelina Jolie- Jennifer Aniston “fight.” You never hear about Vince Vaughn and John Mayer going at it, do you?



  2. kirsten saell
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    2
    · February 9th, 2009 at 4:43 pm · Link

    I just love the fucked up argument that “If you haven’t written a book, you can’t know how hard it is and so you shouldn’t criticize,” being trotted out alongside the “It’s just rude for one writer to criticize another writer’s work.” Um, so if both writers nd non writers aren’t allowed to have an opinion, who is?

    Guess we should all just shut the eff up, huh?



  3. writtenwyrdd
    Comment
    3
    · February 9th, 2009 at 7:04 pm · Link

    You make excellent point, December, but unless you are writing a book review, I do feel it’s a bit unprofessional to slam another writer. However, King has the right to say what he thinks, and being the raging success that he is his opinion on writing should hold some weight, but it still feels like bad form to me.

    What I see as the big problem is that so many people are all going “Wah! King has slammed Meyer! He’s a meanie!” That is truly juvenile.

    so for me it’s two issues. Juvenile fans or authors who cry publically about people “being mean” to them; and a well-known author with an opinion who states it.

    Which is worse? Obviously the crybabies. But I think you have to tread carefully when speaking publically about another writer. Even if you’re Steven King.



  4. BernardL
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    4
    · February 10th, 2009 at 11:59 am · Link

    I commented elsewhere on this very subject, D. My rule of thumb is if you write books millions want to read (Stephanie Meyer for instance), it doesn’t really matter what the Lord of Literature says about you. I read Stephen King’s books. I’m reading The Cell right now. If I actually took offense at what the guy states in public about nearly everything, I would have probably crossed his books off my reading list. The people jumping on his rather idiotic statement are the same ones who run around the Internet looking for ways to be offended. Some are real Stephanie Meyer fans. I call the statement idiotic because there simply was no reason for King to say it, other than to create a firestorm. Dean Koontz in my opinion writes in the same genre as King and is arguably as successful. He has one of the most helpful sites on the Internet. I have never read a single comment where he did an off the cuff smack down of another writer. Perhaps the Lord of Literature should take a lesson on class from one of his peers. :)



  5. Charles Gramlich
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    5
    · February 10th, 2009 at 1:05 pm · Link

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I suspect quite a bit of it is precisely because “many” of Myer’s readers are rather immature themselves. If you like something, like it, don’t give a shit what someone else says.



  6. Anonymous
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    6
    · February 10th, 2009 at 3:17 pm · Link

    That’s why when someone wants you to be mature about something they tell you to “man” up, not “woman” up. [I duck!] ;~) -V95



  7. Seeley deBorn
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    7
    · February 10th, 2009 at 4:08 pm · Link

    Dude. Just, dude.

    (because I don’t do the amen thing)



  8. laughingwolf
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    8
    · February 11th, 2009 at 10:06 am · Link

    as some kinda scribe once penned: tempest in a teacup

    who really give a rat’s ass about what is said… by anyone?



  9. December/Stacia
    Comment
    9
    · February 12th, 2009 at 4:37 am · Link

    That’s very true, Robyn, I hadn’t thought of that. Ugh, yes. Poor Jennifer Aniston. It’s been like 5 years, can the tabloids stop treating her like a fragile broken-hearted doll?

    Oh, kis, yes!! Only writers are qualified to review but they’re not allowed to go against “professional courtesy.” FFS, really. I just find that so irritating. I mean, yes, I wouldn’t publicly criticize another writer in my genre, generally, simply because I might run into them somewhere and it might be awkward, and because between myself and my friends, I’m semi-connected to pretty much everyone who writes UF. But the idea that someone like Stephen King can’t offer an opinion on something? That any of us can’t offer an opinion on something? What the hell kind of world is that? (It’s actually the kind of world where people go on gun rampages in public places because of all the bottled-up rage and craziness, IMO.) Sigh. Get OVER it, not everyone is going to like everything!! And they have a right to not like things!!

    See, Written, I do agree that people should be careful what they say and about whom. And honestly, I think had he chosen someone else to criticize I might have felt differently; I do think that fact that Meyer is so popular and successful makes it harder to fault him, if you know what I mean. It’s less like picking on someone beneath you. I think the thing that really gets me is just that his comments aren’t even that bad, you know? It’s not like he went on a ten-paragraph diatribe about everything he hates about her work. But yes, we should be careful. :-)

    Exactly, Bernard. Meyer doesn’t *need* his endorsement, at all. It’s not like she’s a beginner he’s called garbage. Anyone who really cares about his opinion probably either hasn’t read her or has already formed thier own opinion, and those who love Meyer aren’t going to turn around now and say “Gee, this isn’t very good.”



  10. December/Stacia
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    10
    · February 12th, 2009 at 4:41 am · Link

    *nods* As always, Charles, I think you’re right. It’s hard when you’re younger to separate professional critique and personal or to see things in a big-picture kind of way. I just think adults should know better than to run around huffing about how they’ll never buy another King book because he’s so meeeeean.

    LOL, V95!! {{hug}}

    Sigh, I know, Seeley. I know.

    Exactly, laughingwolf. I have had a few commenters on my livejournal mention how it’s a kind of good thing this has happened because people are talking about books in a positive way now instead of screaming how publishing is broken and the sky is falling and everything is wrong, all wrong. So that is good, and I’m all for the idea of discussion abut books and which are good and what good writing is and all of that. :-)



  11. Nonny
    Comment
    11
    · February 13th, 2009 at 4:31 am · Link

    Honestly, the “professional courtesy” (aka “must always be nice to other authors”) only really seems common in the romance and related genres. I have never seen this come up as an issue in SF/F communities. It’s only been in romance that I’ve been told I should shut my mouth, be nice, and support my fellow authors — even if I have valid criticisms of their work or behavior. (Paraphrasing; it was always said much “gentler.” But the idea is the same.)



  12. laughingwolf
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    12
    · February 13th, 2009 at 6:08 pm · Link

    intelligent discourse is always good, dee… emphasis on the ‘intelligent’… much of what purports to be, is not even close, as you know

    nonny, it’s the gd pc crap… again!



  13. Angie
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    13
    · February 14th, 2009 at 6:24 am · Link

    Yeah. I think a big part of it is that Meyer is a woman. And I think there is a very ugly assumption beneath this, which is that a woman cannot take criticism. And sadly, I think there is a segment of the female writing “society,” for lack of a better term, which truly cannot take criticism, who flounce around saying things like “If you’ve never written a book you can’t criticize” or “It’s hard work to write a book and the author deserves something for that and it’s mean to say her book isn’t very good” or whatever other whiny little excuses these namby-pambies toss around to justify their own total and complete lack of professionalism.

    We’ve seen these people online. We see them all the freaking time, in fact. They’re the ones who stalk Amazon reviewers or decide to name transexual AIDS-riddled prostitutes after people who give them mediocre reviews (and let’s keep in mind, btw, what sort of person thinks “transexual” is a worthy insult) or send nasty emails to reviewers or start blogs where they put up nasty cartoons or send hate mail or have hissy fits in comments or whatever the fuck it is, and thus make all female writers look as though we too have never progressed beyond the 9th grade.

    Absolutely. [nod/applause] What’s frustrating is that these women (and yeah, it seems to be all women) seem to be completely unaware how bad they look. I want to smack every one of them just for being the same gender as me.

    To say nothing of the fact that if they hadn’t kicked up such a flaily, whining fuss, the whole thing would’ve died down a lot quicker than it did. Many people who’d never heard King’s opinion of Meyer normally, did hear it because of the stink they raised. Good job, kids! [eyeroll]

    Angie



  14. December/Stacia
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    14
    · February 14th, 2009 at 7:50 am · Link

    Oh, sorry Nonny, LW, and Angie, I’m just now seeing your followup comments.

    Yes, Nonny, you’re absolutely right. It *is* only in romance that I see this “You better be nice OR ELSE” attitude, which frankly is no small part of the reson why I’m not really writing romance anymore. (The biggest part, though, is simply that I’m better at UF; my voice fits it better. Which isn’t to say I’m great at UF, I don’t mean it that way, just that it suits me better.) It’s extremely irritating. Since when are women such fragile li’l flowers that we just can’t take somebody being meeean to poor ol’ us? And “being mean” is defined as, oh, having dissenting opinions, or not jumping up and down and squeeing with delight over your every utterance, or independent thought of any kind? Groan.

    Oh, I know LW…sigh, I know.

    Well, Angie, it’s not *ALL* women, to be fair. Like that guy who a few weeks ago started leaving comments on an editor’s blog encouraging the editor to kill himself (and take his cat with him when he did), which was just vile to the millionth power. So you do see men pull this crap on occasion. But yes, it’s mostly women, and it does make us all look bad, and I want to scream and tear out my hair when it happens. I’m tired of those women’s behavior reflecting on me.

    And yeah, like I said, King’s comments weren’t even that bad, what the hell was the big deal? Sigh.



  15. Angie
    Comment
    15
    · February 14th, 2009 at 7:58 am · Link

    No, it’s not all women in every situation; I was referring to the Twilight/Meyer thing there, because that in particular seems to be all women from what I’ve seen. But yes, the “Good idea — go kill yourself” dude from a bit ago needs a smack too.

    Angie



  16. December/Stacia
    Comment
    16
    · February 16th, 2009 at 12:35 pm · Link

    Oh, sorry, I knew you didn’t think it was *all* women, I was trying to clarify in case someone else was reading it. :-)



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