Archive for 'disgusting'
What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Guys…what the fuck is going on?
Seriously. What the fuck is going on here?
I honestly don’t even know where to begin, or what to say. I find myself growing more and more disturbed by things I’m seeing lately, on an almost daily basis. Like, to the point where I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps writers and readers simply should not interact with each other at all. Like, to the point where I’m considering withdrawing from the online world more than I already have (which, I’m sure none of you have noticed because you have full and busy lives, but is a bit).
It seems like almost every day we have yet another bag-of-douche acting like a fucking…I don’t even know what a good analogy is. Like a fucking vindictive shithead, vomiting their poo all over the internet and delighting in making other people feel bad. They claim this is justified, that they are Taking A Stand.
Guys…at the risk of Godwinning, reviewers are not Hitler. They’re not Mussolini. They’re not Pol Pot. I’m not aware of a single reviewer who has actually, say, kidnapped an author and tortured them in the basement, no matter how offensive they may have found that particular author’s book. I’m not aware of a single reviewer who has committed mass human rights offenses, or has engaged in some sort of cover-up, or has stolen money from people, or whatever other actions that might constitute, you know, actual activities a serious and definite stand should be taken against. For that matter, I’m not aware of a single book that has bombed spectacularly because some people got upset about it on Goodreads. The books that (appear to have) started this whole mess? Hardly failures.
I’ve been hanging around the online reading/writing community for seven years now (“Lane, I’ve been going to this school for seven years now. I’m no dummy.”). In that time I’ve seen quite a few authors behaving abominably. I’m only aware of one whose behavior was execrable AND whose books were not successful, but in that case, actually, I think the lack of sales has more to do with the fact that her books were utter shit (and even then, there were several poor misguided souls out there who liked them. Which is their right. I just personally thought the books were garbage).
So let’s get this straight, and let’s say it in boldface so there is no mistaking it:
You are not Taking A Brave Stand when you “out” people on the internet, no matter how rude or nasty you may think that person has been. You are not Exposing Their Crimes At Great Risk To Yourself. You are not a Miraculous Crusader For The Rights Of Others. You are not Karen Silkwood. You’re not even Woodward & Bernstein. You’re just an asshole with no perspective, to be honest.
And you should be fucking ashamed of yourself.
I’m ashamed of you. I’m ashamed to share internet space with you. You make me sick to my stomach.
Ever hear the phrase “Two wrongs don’t make a right?” Why don’t you think for a minute about what that means? Even IF–for the sake of argument–even IF we take your thesis as a given: That there is a segment of people online who secretly hate certain authors and delight in ripping them to shreds, and who get off on the sense of power they get from insulting and hurting and misrepresenting authors who they know can’t fight back, and who honestly believe they have the power to hurt the careers of those authors…
Even if we take that at face value…
How exactly is outing those reviewers on the internet HELPING anyone? How are you making yourself look like anything but a miserable, bullying piece of shit? How are you doing anything but making the tension in reader-writer relations–a tension with which I admit to being increasingly uncomfortable with every new kerfuffle–WORSE?
And you’re a fucking hypocrite. Outing people from behind the veil of anonymity. Yelling at people for daring to express opinions while behaving as if every word you type is precious and golden. Deciding it’s your place to attack people you deem “bullies.” (By the way, I’m also not talking about the difference between bullying and what you seem to think is bullying, and how offensive that is, and how I’m tired of seeing people hide behind the buzzword-of-the-day to justify their own complete lack of human decency.)
Honestly, I’m not just angry and sick about this. I am both of those things, intensely. I’m furious. I’m horrified.
But I’m also disheartened. I’m so tired of it all, you guys. I’m just so fucking tired of it all.
You know what? I’ve been on the receiving end of internet rage. I’ve had things I said misrepresented. I’ve gotten hate email–more than once. I’ve found people saying the most vile and hurtful things about me, lying about me. It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel good. It still doesn’t. I’ve seen it happen to others, too. And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
I’m sick of the goddamn internet feeding frenzy. I’m sick of feeling like we’re all trapped on the island from LORD OF THE FLIES.
But you know what? If it’s anyone’s responsibility to put a stop to that shit, it’s MINE. I am the product creator. I am the merchant. I am the content originator. In other words, I am the one with the responsibility to guard my public image, to guard my art, to guard my integrity, and to watch how I represent myself. You could even say–and hell, for the sake of argument I will, even though it sounds egotistical and I really don’t think of it this way–that I have a responsibility to set an example.
I cannot control the behavior of others. I CAN control my own behavior.
Here’s the thing. Have I seen situations where I feel statements or actions of writers have been taken out of context, or overreacted over? You bet your ass I have. Has it upset me? Hell, yes, it has. Has it happened to me, where something said in one spirit was taken in a completely different one? Regular readers know it has (and I won’t even discuss in this post the sexism of that situation, or of this one, though I may do that soon. Suffice to say at the moment that I’m sick and tired of the attempts made to keep women and their opinions in line while no such offense is taken when men say the same things, or of women being yelled at for their “tone” and “attitude” whereas no one does the same at men. Ever visited a heavily male site like Aintitcool? Why don’t you go take a look at the vitriol there, and say something about it? Oh, I know. Because you’re too busy being an asshole about women who dared to step off the very narrow path of behavior you deem appropriate).
But here’s the other thing.
If writers never went crazy and unloaded on readers, if they never did things like try to out them or get their little friends to vote down their reviews or report them to try to get them deleted…if writers never sent nasty emails to reviewers or threatened to name AIDS-infected prostitutes after them (because that is so totally hilarious, yo) or tried to get them banned from websites…if writers never sent emails out to their cronies asking them to write positive reviews of their books or leave comments on less-than-positive reviews on retail sites or blogs…if writers never took to the internet to bitch and moan about those stupid readers who dared to not like their books and what morons they are and how they don’t deserve to live…in other words, if the idea of a writer cheating, gaming the system, and generally acting like an entitled little shit had never occurred to anyone? If all writers behaved with integrity? If no writer had ever behaved as though readers are nothing more than their personal publicity service with some kind of duty to help them promote their work? If no writer had ever behaved as if readers have no right to express an opinion?
Well, gee…if no writers had ever behaved like that, do you think readers would be so anxious? Do you think they would interpret any sort of comment by a writer on or about a review (and keep in mind I disapprove of writers commenting on reviews at all, this is just a general question) as an attack or attempt to intimidate? Do you think all this shit would have started in the first place?
Because I kind of don’t.
The fact is, the burden is on us. No, I didn’t start writing with the intent of being a Public Figure. Yes, I do find it upsetting that writers have to be so careful what we say, not just about reviews but about anything and everything else. But hey, that’s part of the job. And it’s easy to forget that it’s not just writers. It’s not an outgrowth of “celebrity.” It’s an outgrowth of having your thoughts and opinions exposed to a large group of people. Sooner or later somebody’s going to take offense. If you say something to enough people that will happen. That’s just the way it goes. I find it upsetting no matter who it happens to; I wish and wish that we could all remember those people on the other “side” of the computer screen are people, with thoughts and feelings. Maybe they’re having a bad day. Maybe they’re lonely or sad. Maybe they’re just not thinking about everything they say with the gravity Lincoln afforded the Gettysburg Address. People make mistakes. People mess up. People forget their audience, or fail to phrase something exactly, or whatever else. I hate that people are so eager to leap onto others like a pack of wild dogs. I hate that we seem to think the internet means it’s okay to say anything to anyone, about anyone, with no consequences. But you know what? People get carried away, too.
It’s easy to look at the current climate and talk about how ugly it is. And it is. Not all of it, but a segment of it. I know I’m not the only one growing increasingly disgusted by it, increasingly uncomfortable with it, increasingly angry and upset. I know I’m not the only one who’s been seriously reconsidering my participation online. I know I’m not the only one who finds the tendency toward outright glee when someone makes a mistake, the way everyone jumps in to laugh and point, to be highly disturbing.
But the answer is not to jump in and out-disgusting the people you feel are disgusting. The answer is not to forget your responsibilities to other people. The answer is not to create a website so full of vile slime and attacks, a website that deliberately tries to disrupt lives and could potentially incite violence–a website that outs mothers with children in their homes and encourages people to harass them (think about that again for a second: MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN IN THEIR HOMES)–that it turns the stomach and then pat yourself on your smug fucking back like you’ve just Scored One For The Good Guys.
YOU ARE NOT A GOOD GUY.
You are, in fact, the opposite of that.
I’m sorry this is so disjointed, and confused. I’m sorry it doesn’t make my point as clearly as I would like. I’m just too sick and sad and angry and upset and whatever else over this. It is horrifying. HORRIFYING.
I may well discuss this more later.
What Stace had to say on Friday, June 1st, 2012
Imagine this scenario.
You meet a guy. Let’s say he’s a friend of a friend. And you like him. He’s attractive, he’s smart, he’s funny. Everything about this guy seems tailor-made for a long and happy and loving relationship with you. You’re pretty into this guy, and after an afternoon of chatting, you’re even more into him.
And of course you assume he’s into you, in return. Why wouldn’t he be? You too are attractive–if you say so yourself. You’re smart and funny–if you say so yourself. You’re charming and witty, you like a lot of the music and movies and TV shows he likes. So it only makes sense that the two of you should start dating immediately, and go on to fifty fun-filled years of happy love-filled home- and baby-making. Right?
So maybe you–a little shy–start hunting around to see him if he’s interested. Like, just to see what he thinks of you, and if he found you as delightful as he must have–why wouldn’t he, right, because you are indeed delightful!–and as delightful as you found him, then maybe he’ll call you, or you’ll call him, and there you’ll be picking china patterns. Maybe you look around online to see if he’s mentioned you. Maybe you see he did.
Except…He didn’t find you charming at all. Not even attractive. He thought you were obtuse and annoying. he thought you talked too much and had nothing to say, so his mind kept drifting during your conversation. He found the way you spoke irritating. You’re blonde and he likes brunettes, or vice versa. You’re very slim and he likes women with a little meat on their bones or vice versa. He hates women who say “Totally.” He hates all accountants on general principle so just talking to you was like pulling teeth for him. He basically thinks you suck.
Or maybe he doesn’t think you suck, he just thought you were kind of meh. He didn’t feel a spark. He wasn’t really attracted to you. he thought you were okay, and your conversation was an okay way to spend an hour or so, but he’s not interested in continuing it. The chemistry just isn’t there.
So what do you do, when you discover this guy had the nerve to not fall in love with you? Perfect, amazing, deep, smart, incredible, touching, delightful you?
If you’re an adult, you shrug and move on. Maybe it stings a little. Maybe it stings for an hour or two, even, or a day or two. Maybe you’re a little hurt and confused. But you know there’s nothing you can do to change his mind, and you know that hey, okay, that guy didn’t like you enough to want to fill you with his tiny babies, but you know there are other guys out there that will, it’s not like you’ve never ever had a boyfriend ever. In fact, you’ve met a few other guys recently who really liked you and called you and wanted to buy you dinner. So this is obviously just that guy’s personal taste, right?
Now, if you’re NOT an adult, but some sort of ridiculous child, maybe you call the guy up to tell him you’re really offended that he didn’t like you. Maybe you tell him that he’s obviously not smart enough to understand the Wonder Of You. You call him an idiot. You tell him that if he was a better person he would want to date you. You tell him that he obviously has some sort of grudge, that you bet he’s been conspiring with someone else to make you feel bad, and what does he know anyway? He’s not a woman, so how can he know what’s really good about women?
If you’re REALLY a ridiculous child, you start spreading gossip about him. You tell everyone you know that Brett McSingleguy is a total dickhead, that he’s sexist and stupid, that he thinks he’s so great. Maybe you start following him around and telling women he meets that he’s scum. Maybe you start leaving nasty notes on his Facebook page, or sending emails to his boss accusing him of all manner of things. Maybe you start stalking him. Maybe when he calls the cops on you, you get even angrier.
In other words, maybe you are a fucking psycho. Maybe you should grow the fuck up. Maybe you should get a fucking life. Maybe you should leave this poor man, whose only crime was to not like you, alone.
Anyone see the parallels there?
Now tell me. How many people out there would really see one guy not liking you as a reason to start stalking him and smearing him and denigrating him like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? I’m guessing not that many.
So why is it so much fucking harder when it’s your book the guy just doesn’t like that much?
He’s one goddamn guy. Get over it. You’re not going to change his mind by arguing with him, and you’re not going to make any friends by going all Crazy-Bitch on him.
He doesn’t like you. Just grow the fuck up and get over it. If that one guy’s opinion is that fucking important to you that you have to fixate on it, perhaps you are in need of professional help.
Do I see that it can be a bit harder when the guy in question has lots of people who listen to his opinions? Sure. But do you really think all of his friends are sheep who just blindly follow whatever he says? “Oh. Kevin said that girl is dumb. I think she’s pretty and seems nice, but I’ll never even speak to her after he said that. I don’t think for myself, tra-la-la!”
Jesus Christ, guys. Seriously. If you can’t handle reviews, don’t read them. Actually, if you can’t handle reviews to the point where you have hissybaby fits and actually–I cannot believe I have to type this as an actual thing that happened–out a reviewer’s personal information on the internet, to the point where you become sort sort of crusader on the world’s most maladjusted and silly crusade, then I seriously think you probably lack the emotional depth, maturity, and wisdom necessary to write a book that anyone would actually want to read. Both because you are a fucking psycho, and because I cannot believe your actual work is any good, because creating good writing is about accepting criticism, admitting to ourselves where our books’ flaws are, and working to fix them. Over and over. Because creating good books is about recognizing that not every human being on this planet is the same. Humanity is not a hivemind. Readers are not a hivemind. Some people like some things, and some people like other things. That’s part of being real people and not cardboard cutouts. If you don’t understand that different people think and feel differently about different things, what the fuck kinds of books are you writing? Seriously.
And seriously, stalking people is never a good idea. It will not and does not win you sympathy. No one, on hearing that you got so angry that that one guy wouldn’t go out with you you started stalking him, is going to think that clearly you’re in the right here. NO ONE. (At least no one decent. But really, if Mark David Chapman or Buck Thurman would be on your side in the argument, maybe you should rethink your position.)
Nobody owes you a date. Nobody owes you a good review. Grow up.
(NOTE: Comments are temporarily disabled on this entry due to spammers. If you have a comment you want to leave, use the comment form to let me know.)
What Stace had to say on Monday, May 21st, 2012
Before I get into the rant, a few things to share…
1. SACRIFICIAL MAGIC has been released in the UK! (I am told there was/is a shipping delay in the Australia-bound books, for which I am very sorry.)
2. SACRIFICIAL MAGIC has been released in audiobook! (And I believe CHASING MAGIC’s audio release will be very close to if not the same as the actual ppb/ebook US release.) I’ve heard already from a few readers who are enjoying the hell out of the audiobook(s); while I personally find listening to them to be just too bizarre an experience, I’m thrilled that they exist and that you guys like them!
3. Some of you may have already heard this, but I have to share with you the monumentally humiliating thing I did on Saturday.
I was at the grocery store, and outside were a couple of gentlemen collecting funds for Lifeboat Rescue. Since I have kind of a thing about the Navy/sailors/boats/the sea, I of course plucked some coins out of my pocket and tossed them in the bucket. As the guy was peeling off a sticker for me (stickers are a big thing here when you donate money), I started to say, “I love the Navy!”
But it occurred to me, maybe they weren’t actually the Navy. I mean, is Lifeboat Rescue the Navy? Or is it the Coast Guard? Or are they a separate, private group? It wouldn’t do to say “I love the Navy” if/when they’re not actually Navy, would it. So I changed my intent mid-sentence, casting frantically about for the correct term.
And what I ended up saying, in a bright, cheery voice, with a big smile on my face, was “I LOVE SEAMEN!”
I could still hear both of them laughing as I got into my car.
I swear I am not making that up.
4. I am coming down with a cold. Echinacea tastes icky.
Okay, with all of that out of the way… (This is a rant. An angry one. It’s possible that later I may feel more kindly about this, but I doubt it. I want to make clear that while I am using a particular person here as an example, and while her opinion infuriates me, this is not meant to be a personal attack, and it is not my intent to be personally hurtful to her [although I believe many of her comments were and are personally hurtful to me and other writers who care about readers and what we do].)
A day or so ago I got a pingback on one of my posts about how authors should not respond to reader reviews, because reviews are not written for us. I of course followed the link, which clearly from its title disagreed with me. (ETA: And more pingbacks, months later! Because apparently some of us are so butthurt that people disagree with them that they’re still thinking about it months later after the rest of us have long forgotten the whole thing. Whatever.)
I am not linking back to the post myself, because frankly, I don’t wanna send traffic this person’s way. But don’t worry. I’ll explain it well enough.
This particular self-published author (and I point out that she’s self-published simply because not only does it make her outlook a bit different, perhaps, but because of the impossibility of a commercially published author following one of her more offensive “rules”) believes that not only is it not bad for authors to respond to negative reviews, but it’s actually–wait for it–“Good Customer Service” to do so. Read the rest of this entry »
What Stace had to say on Monday, January 9th, 2012
Oh, man. I hardly know where to start.
I’ve been thinking about this post for about a week now, and still don’t know what exactly I’m going to say. I’m just trying to make sense of some things, basically. So forgive me if this is a tad rambly.
The thing is, I’ve been involved in the online writing/reading community since 2005 now. And in that time things have gotten–in my view, at least–more and more antagonistic and upsetting. I wonder why. This post–this series of posts planned for this week–is my attempt to figure it out, I guess. To express my thoughts and see what yours are, and perhaps to offer a potential solution. And in order to do that I’m going to be very honest, and perhaps harsh in some places, but I’m trying to express my full thought process here. So we’ll see how it goes.
In the past nine days or so the internet–at least the writer/reader part of it–seems to have gone kablooey. Specifically, the writer part of it, in that we’ve had a rash of writers deciding it’s their place to tell readers A) How to review books; B) What is and is not okay to say or think; C) Why their opinion is totally wrong; and D) whatever other ridiculous shit they come up with.
I’m aware of five separate incidents, the latest being a self-published author who, in response to a reasoned but negative review, took it upon himself to leave 40 comments–yes, forty–on the blog quoting the fawning letters he’d received about the book from family and friends. And then many more comments insisting that what he did was totally professional and reasonable and why is the reviewer in question so full of hate, yo? And that’s nothing compared to the others, the writers ranting on their blogs and leaving nasty or argumentative comments on Goodreads and blah blah blah.
Guys…cut it out. Just, seriously, cut it out.
Readers have the right to say whatever the fuck they want about a book. Period. They have that right. If they hate the book because the MC says the word “delicious” and the reader believes it’s the Devil’s word and only evil people use it, they can shout from the rooftops “This book is shit and don’t read it” if they want. If they want to write a review entirely about how much they hate the cover, they can if they want. If they want to make their review all about how their dog Foot Foot especially loved to pee on that particular book, they can.
Because, and I’ve said this before, reviews are for readers. Because they purchased the book (or it was sent to them specifically hoping they would express an opinion) and so can say whatever they want about it. If you buy a shirt that falls apart in the wash, do you keep your mouth shut about it because you don’t want to hurt the manufacturer’s feelings?
Authors, reviews are not for you. They are not for you. Authors, reviews are not for you.
Read the rest of this entry »
What Stace had to say on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
What Happened When My Intestine Exploded
First, of course, I have to say a huge enormous Thank You!!! to all of you. Your emails and comments, your cards and letters and packages, were just incredible; you have no idea how much they meant to me and how much I appreciated them. Really, thank you so much. I haven’t replied individually yet–I’m still trying to get back on my feet a bit, and I came back to over a thousand emails–but I will. In the meantime, please accept my enormous gratitude. It was and is really incredible to see how many people actually care.
So, what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. This story gets a bit icky, guys, just as a word of warning.
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, October 26th, with the most incredible pain in my abdomen. It felt–to be rather crude, sorry–like the worst gas ever, moving all around my abdomen, not localized in one place. Just this horrible stabbing pain. It was hard to walk, it hurt so bad. It was hard to lift things, it hurt so bad. It was hard to drive, it hurt so bad. I drove to the pharmacy to buy some sort of gas-relieving medication, and the woman there seemed to think something was terribly wrong with me, I thought from the way I appeared in obvious pain but I was told later that I was so dehydrated I looked like a skeleton.
Anyway. Wednesday I was supposed to drive to the Southwest to look for a new home near Mr. K’s work. But I was still in horrible pain, so I canceled. This worried Mr. K so much that he left work and drove the several hours back here, insisting that I go to the hospital. I didn’t think it was that necessary but I was starting to worry a bit, yeah, so I finally agreed.
We reached the ER (or A&E as they call it here) at Lister Hospital at around 3 pm. They saw me right away. They palpated my abdomen which hurt a ton, even after giving me oral morphine. They put me in a gown and sent me to be X-Rayed–at this point it was probably about 5, given the time to wait for the X-Ray and talking to the docs etc. etc. We waited for the X-Rays to come back and the blood tests (and man, my veins are hard to find anyway, when I’m dehydrated it’s almost impossible, so that was NOT pleasant and would only get worse).
That’s when the fun happened. All of the sudden I was taken into this other room, and greeted by about seven surgeons, who informed me that my X-Ray had shown air under my diaphragm, which indicated a hole in my intestine. An ulcer which had eaten all the way through, to be more exact. Apparently this is very serious and can be fatal thanks to dehydration and peritonitis and such–who knew?–and I’d already delayed longer than I should have, so the surgeons bumped their other surgeries so I could be the very first one in when the OR opened at 7 pm. The head surgeon said, “This is major surgery, so whatever else happens, you are going to be one very sick young lady for the next two weeks at least.” Yay me!
So into the OR I went. I remember being told I’d probably feel a little dizzy, and the next thing I remember is seeing Mr. K. telling me it was all over and I was fine, and then I was in this special intensive post-op care unit. I spent five days there, mostly sleeping and pressing the little button that would give me more morphine. I had a gnarly row of staples down the middle of my stomach and tubes poking out of me everywhere: my nose, my stomach, a catheter (of course), and a bunch of IVs and lines in my neck and hands/wrists. They were also coming to take blood just about every day. LOTS of needle sticks.
I was in the special post-op ward for five days. It was generally nice and quiet, except for the night we had a woman in there moaning constantly and asking the nurses–in the middle of the night, mind–why they wanted to kill her. Oh, and there was the older gentleman who was very angry a lot of the time; when the phone rang he’d become enraged and shout that they shouldn’t answer it, or if they did to “Tell them I’m not here! Tell them I’m still in hospital!” To which the nurses would ask if he knew where he was, that he was in fact still in hospital, and that they had to answer the phone because it was the hospital’s phone.
But anyway. On the fifth day they moved me into another post-surgery ward, where we weren’t monitored quite as closely. Because the ward was full of men I actually got a private room, since I am not a man and rules say a lone woman can’t be put in a ward full of men. That was nice, the private room, but let me clarify something for my American friends, since those I spoke to on the phone were utterly shocked by this (and to be fair, so was I, a bit). I had a private room, yes. I did not have a private bathroom; I used a commode (basically an adult potty seat the nurses would wheel in) or, once I was able to walk, the public bathroom in the hall which all the patients and visitors used. (Yes, very sanitary, I know.) I did not have a TV in my room, or a phone. I was not permitted to plug in my computer or cellphone, so I wasn’t able to use the internet at all or really get any work done–not that I was up to working, but still. Stephen had to charge stuff for me at home and bring it in, and the hospital didn’t want me to keep valuables in my room anyway, so generally he’d bring my laptop and a DVD and we’d watch it until they made him leave. All I did for most of the time was sleep, stare into space, or look at magazines, since I didn’t feel up to getting involved in a book (which should tell you how bad I felt).
So. On Wednesday 2nd November, one week after the initial surgery, I woke up around 2 am and noticed my stomach felt a bit wet. It felt wet because it was wet, with blood. Read the rest of this entry »
What Stace had to say on Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Last night I saw a link–I’m not going to repost it here, the poor girl has been through enough–to the blog of a writer who had just self-published her novel. The link was to a new post, in which the writer announced–with palpable and understandable excitement–that Jodi Reamer of Writers House (that’s a big-name agent at a big-name agency, for those of you unfamiliar) had seen her book, emailed her to offer representation, and gotten her a deal with (if memory serves) HarperTeen. A big deal, a six-figure type deal.
Obviously people were thrilled for her, in the way so many of us are thrilled for another person–happy for them, perhaps tinged with a bit of envy, because we’re all only human and at heart most humans are, frankly, selfish, evil little beings. Socialization and morals and ethics and all of that teaches us how to deal with those selfish, evil little thoughts, but they’re still there.
Anyway. A few people were not as thrilled; they were skeptical. I admit to being in this camp. I’ve seen publishing deals happen at lightspeed–I know a few people whose agents submitted their work in the morning and had offers by the afternoon–and of course agents can offer to represent at lightspeed as well (my agent offered two days after my initial contact with him, and I’ve known people who’ve gotten offers on the same day). It does happen, sure, but to get an agent and a large deal all in a day or so is extremely unusual. To be able to announce that deal so quickly is even more–well, no, it’s not even unusual. It is, frankly, unheard of. Generally deals aren’t announced until contracts are signed, or at least until the contract stage has been reached (meaning, the fine points are agreed to and we’re just waiting for the paperwork). Lots of us wait until our deals are announced in Publisher’s Marketplace; not because we have to, but because it’s fun to be able to post the little blurb they print in there. It makes it feel real. (In fact, my agent rarely reports to PM, and did so for me because I asked him to, batting my eyelashes and all of that while I did. Okay, no, I didn’t bat my eyelashes, but I did ask, because I wanted that announcement; I wanted to see it confirmed somewhere, because so many people read PM and it’s exciting.)
But this isn’t about deals being posted or anything. It’s about the fact that apparently the expressed skepticism of some people alerted the writer that maybe she should just double-check everything. So she called Writers House.
And discovered that an extremely cruel joke had just been played on her. And not just her, either:
From today’s Publisher’s Lunch:
Writers House has learned that a series of fake emails claiming to be from WH agent Jodi Reamer have been circulating to self-published authors this week. “These emails, which contain a number of false statements, have not in fact come from Jodi Reamer and should thus be disregarded.” One easy “tell”: they advise that any e-mail from a non-Writers House address “expressing interest in representation is counterfeit.”
I cannot even begin to express how absolutely horrified I am on this poor girl’s behalf (and on behalf of the others to whom this happened); I can’t even imagine how it must feel to think you’ve accomplished something like that and to discover that no, you were simply a victim, something to be exploited for someone else’s sick enjoyment. That you were treated as if you’re not even human, less than nothing, not a person with feelings but some sort of computer construct to be toyed with. Who the hell would do something like that? What the fuck is wrong with people? Do they like to kick puppies, too, and maybe wander up to random children and tell them they’re useless, stupid little shits who’ll never amount to anything in the world? What kind of person gets their jollies from doing this sort of thing?
When did we forget that those other people, the ones on the other side of the computer, are in fact people, real people with feelings, and not Sims?
A while ago I did a post on bullies. It feels like things have gotten worse since then. No one is content to just let someone else have their own opinion anymore, and I’m sorry, but the fact that they posted that opinion on the internet does not mean it’s okay to gang up on them and call them names. You want to disagree with their opinion, fine. I personally don’t always see the point in making a big deal about disagreeing with it–I tend to just think “Huh. I don’t agree with that” and move on, unless it’s factual misinformation, in which case I still strive to be polite and respectful–but if you feel they need to hear your point, go ahead.
But there’s a difference between “I disagree with your opinion” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” There’s a difference between “This is incorrect” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” And why the hell do you care what they think, anyway? Why is it so important to you to lurk on people’s Twitter feeds and make fun of them in your own? Why do you need to send hoax emails to people just because they have dreams and are trying to accomplish something? Is that really fun? Do you even care that a human being is on the other end of that, a human being you’re being purposefully cruel to just because you can?
Yes, sure, people shouldn’t put things out there if they don’t want others to react. Yes, people should expect disagreement and not get all butthurt because someone does disagree. Yes, we’re adults and need to take responsibility for what we put out there.
But other people’s lives are not a fucking game. Just because someone doesn’t think or feel the way you think or feel doesn’t mean it’s okay to call all of your friends to gang up on them and giggle in public. Just because that person exists doesn’t mean you have the right to stomp all over them. Does it make you feel good about yourself to reduce another person to tears, to make them the butt of your jokes? Have you proved that you’re cool, because you can take an offhand remark they made and turn it into a huge debacle, or misinterpret something they said and spread that misinterpretation around, encouraging others to pile on as well, or play a prank on them and make them think their dreams have come true? Is it really that much fun to treat other people like shit? How the fuck do you people sleep at night?
I’m sick of it, is all. I’m sick of this internet culture that makes people think that other people are simply toys for their amusement, and that it’s okay to jump all over them and keep jumping, that it’s fun to do so. I’m sick of the idea that because it’s a group of people doing it, it’s okay to join in. I’m sick of the idea that it’s open season on anyone and everyone, and that if they wanted to have feelings they should have thought of that before they logged on to the internet. I’m sick of the idea that this kind of shit is cool, and I’m sick of the way people are dehumanized, and I’m sick of the internet culture that reminds me so strongly of Christians thrown to the lions.
Next time you go to comment on something, just think for one second. Is it really necessary to share my opinion here? How much does this really matter, in the big picture? Does this person really deserve my scorn? How would I feel, if someone said this to me? Am I sure I’m interpreting their point correctly?
I’m not saying you can’t have opinions or make them public. I’m not saying you should never respond. I’m not saying you can’t gossip with your friends in email or whatever else. I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t speak up when someone is being unjust, or that you shouldn’t alert people to that injustice and/or warn others away from it, or stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves; I absolutely believe you should.
I’m just saying, don’t forget, that other person is a person, too. Being cruel to them, picking their words apart when they didn’t mean to offend, playing tricks on them, laughing and kicking them when they’re down, publicly encouraging others to go and pick and laugh too? It doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a fucking asshole, and I’m sick of seeing it, and I’m sick of watching people be bullied online and then told they deserved it for daring to put themselves out there.
Just saw a link to this:
Another ETA: I want to make it very clear that my post is NOT referring to any other posts written about this specific situation. Indeed, it’s not about any one blog, blog post, or specific incident; or rather, I’m very angry and upset about this situation and on behalf of this writer but when I speak of internet culture etc. etc. I’m speaking in generalities, and absolutely NOT referring to or accusing anyone of anything over this particular situation (except the actual hoaxers, of course).
Just wanted to mention that, because I know a couple of other posts have been written about this. I read those after I wrote my post, and am not at all reacting or responding to them here.
What Stace had to say on Friday, June 24th, 2011
Yes, we arrived safely in England, and all is well. Amazingly well, in fact; touch wood, but we’ve had gorgeous weather, even. Warm, mostly sunny, but with enough drizzle to make us feel at home. I’ve had fish and chips twice (aaah!) and we’ve rented a car that, although it’s not the Vectra we had before (how I loved that car), is very similar (Vauxhall isn’t making the Vectra anymore, which makes me sad inside). We’ve done some wandering around and some loitering, and hubs has been pounding the pavements and his job hunt is looking *very* promising at the moment, so please keep your fingers crossed for him!
I missed a few things while I was away, sigh. First, and most importantly: L.A. Banks has been diagnosed with adrenal cancer. It’s serious and it’s awful, awful news, and her medical bills are and will continue to be astronomical.
An auction–several auctions, actually–are being held to help raise money for her. I heard about it/got involved too late so couldn’t offer anything; fortunately many, many other people did hear in time, and there’s lots of awesome stuff available to bid on. Please, I urge you all to go have a look. Leslie is really a fantastic person and writer; one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Nowhere near that in importance is the fact that SACRIFICIAL MAGIC is now up for pre-order on Amazon (I don’t see it on B&N.com yet, and Book Depository has it but with the incorrect release date [though you can still pre-order it]) and Amazon UK! So if you’re planning on buying the book anyway, you could pre-order it now, and that would be frankly awesome.
I understand that while I was away there was something of a kerfuffle about this whole pre-order business and the “How you should buy my books” thing again and that whole business. I’ve already made my position on such things clear, but since people have a tendency to forget, let’s just go over it again quickly, shall we? Let me make clear too this particular comment isn’t directed at any one author, or at least not at the one this mess seemed to be directed at.
But I do have issues with authors who think it’s okay to scold people and make them feel guilty for buying her book on the Monday before it comes out rather than the actual Tuesday release date, which is such bullshit. First of all, the NYT counts book sales for the week. They tally numbers Sunday night, which means, unless no book ever sold on a Monday ever counts, that a “week” in those terms runs Monday morning-Sunday night. So a book bought on Monday? Fucking counts, so shut up. Second, shut up anyway, because your arrogant assumption that your listing should matter to your readers grosses me out. You want to grumble privately? Fine. But to make them feel guilty and bad? *gag*
Sorry, but I can’t see myself ever having the ego-driven nerve to assume I’m going to make any kind of list. Perhaps that’s because I’m barely midlist, sure, but either way. And even if I did… Seriously, dude, do you really think that if your sales are going to be big enough to give you a shot at the NYT, those ten or twenty copies people managed to buy early is going to keep you off it? Really? Especially when it’s a day early, which I remind you again, still counts?
Also, pre-orders count, and pre-orders matter. Pre-orders help determine print runs and convince bookstore buyers to place bigger orders. Pre-orders count as first-week sales. Again, even were that not the case? Pre-orders are fucking sales. They count. Every fucking sale counts. (When the previous “Buy my books this way so I can hit the NYT” thing broke out I actually had a chat with my editor about it; she confirmed that yeah, every single damn sale counts as a sale, and that–ta da!–helps our sales numbers, and those determine if we get to write more books or not.)
Getting to write more books or not is what matters to me. Would I love to hit a list one day? Of course; what writer wouldn’t? But honestly? What I care about is getting to write more books. Please, please let me get to write more books. If I could get paid a little more for them that would be great, sure. If I could get a bit of recognition beyond the circle of incredible awesome people who’ve actually read my books and are kind and wonderful enough to talk about them that would be pretty cool, too; I’d love to have a bigger audience. But really, I just want to write more books. I dream about getting to write more books. I can’t imagine being so secure in myself and my sales that I think I can totally hit a list as long as those damn readers don’t fuck it up for me, and worrying they will fuck it up by exercising their rights as a consumer to buy available products.
You know what I worry about? Whether or not they’ll like the book. Whether it’s as good as the last one. Whether they’ll understand why Chess did X in that scene or if I didn’t make it clear enough; whether they’ll see the changes being made or not and like them or not. I worry I’m not giving them a full enough experience, that this book will be a let-down, that I haven’t made it exciting enough, sexy enough, thrilling enough. I worry I’ve failed them–you. That’s what I’m crying about in the weeks before release. That’s where my focus is, what’s on my mind. Not “Will they buy it on the right date?” but “Will they love it?” I honestly, again, can’t imagine being in a position where worrying about what on what day the book was/is bought overrules my absolute terror that my readers will hate my new book, or be disappointed by it.
I just can’t explain how furious I get; not when I see the initial posts about “How you can help me hit a list,” because really, they bug me but oh well. Read it or don’t; follow it or don’t. I dislike the implication that it’s the reader’s job to care about such things or that they exist to serve the writer, yes. As I said above, I dislike the sort of arrogance implied by “My book is going to sell big numbers, y’all, so let’s get me some accolades for it.” The initial posts annoy me. But those aren’t such a big deal to me; it’s the follow-up comments about how no one is following instructions or how they’re obviously not reading the posts because if they were they wouldn’t be behaving so damn badly by buying the book when they see it/in the format they’re buying it in/whatever or how they’ve just made the author cry and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing that when I get angry. That’s what infuriates me; that’s where I start to get that sort of deep raw burning rage inside me that makes me want to start screaming and punching people. That’s where slight rudeness or even innocence of tone becomes real arrogance.
Why am I saying all of this now, when the current little internet mess is over? Well, because I’ve just posted pre-order links, that’s why. And I want to make it clear that while I would love you to pre-order the book, I really would, because I need every sale I can get and a sale is a sale, you’re under no obligation to do so. My sales numbers are not your problem; you are not required to do shit for me, my career, or my sales, frankly.
Yes, maybe it is the case–as I’m sure will be pointed out–that it’s easy for me to say all of this because I’m not in a position where I could hit a list, the implication being that because I’m not a big success I don’t have to worry about growing that success, I only have to try to hang on with my fingertips, whereas these people actually are successful and what do losers like me know about that. But I also know writers who have hit the NYT–quite a few of them, in fact–and none of them made a stink about buying the book the day before release or tell their readers they’d made them sick by buying the book a day or two early. And again, oh well. Maybe I’ll never hit a list. I don’t really care. I care about having a long career, and selling enough to make my publishers happy and make them keep offering me contracts. I care–deeply–about writing books my readers love, books that make them happy and make them want to see more books from me.
I got into this business so I could write books. I stay in this business because I still want to do that. That’s all I want to do. I want readers to like my books. That’s all I worry about.
So pre-order my book or don’t. I hope you do. I’m not worried if you don’t. I just want you to LOVE the book, and be excited by it and not feel let down, and that’s what I’d much rather focus on: you, the reader.
What Stace had to say on Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Because I feel like it, that’s why.
I went to get my hair cut today (yes, I just bitched about this on Twitter. So? I have something else to rant about too, so if you’ve already read this–oh, your time is soooo valuable, you can’t read a little rant more than once–feel free to skip.
Last week hubs and I were doing a bit of online browsing at Daddy O’s, which we do quite often and have done for years and years now, almost since it opened. And we came across pictures of this model and her adorable hair, which we both really liked, and thought would be really cute on me. So I’ve been thinking about it all week, and hubs printed out the pictures so I could look at them, and I decided, yeah, today I’m going to get do it. Because yes, it’s shorter than what I have now, but it isn’t, like, microshort or anything. I wore my hair a lot like it fifteen years or so ago, and it never took long to grow out.
Problem, of course, is that I don’t know where in this area to go. The last place I got a professional cut closed, and even if it hadn’t I wouldn’t have gone back there, because it was too expensive and the girl really didn’t listen to me or do what I wanted, which just sucked.
I drove past a few places, but they were all, like, “Day Spa/Salon”s, which means they’re going to be outrageously expensive too. Finally I found an open place, walked in, and was greeted by this incredibly dour, frumpy little woman with that burgundy-auburn dyed hair, do you know the color I mean? Seriously, she looked like Rosa Klebb. Without the cheer.
I already had that sort of nervous icky feeling in my stomach, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to let Mama Steelboot there near me with scissors. But I showed her my pictures anyway, figuring who knows, maybe she’s an excellent stylist who just has bad person taste, right?
Her thick eyebrows rose up to her weirdly side-swept bangs. “You want to go this short?”
I don’t think the cut is that short, actually, and that’s what I said. She sort of looks at my hair again, raises her eyebrows further, and says, “Well, it’s shorter than what you have now.”
Um, yeah…that’s why they call it a hair cut. Also, duh, I can see that it’s shorter than what I have now; I even brought pictures to reference, and am perfectly capable of understanding the concept of varying lengths. Also, fuck you, lady.
She took my name, and went to start sweeping up, and I stood there wondering why I was even contemplating letting this woman who obviously didn’t get me or what I wanted, and who I suspected might deliberately sabotage my hair just for pleasure, at all near me, so I didn’t. I told her I wanted to think about it more, and ran.
Why is it so damn hard to find a decent stylist? One who will actually listen to what you want, and give it to you? I just don’t get it. This is why I cut my own hair. I just don’t feel confident I can do that cut myself, because of all the layers in the back.
Anyway. This leads me to another rant, which was brought on by a humorous discussion on Absolute Write, and I’m basically going to repeat what I said. (Hmm. Maybe I should have called this post “Recycled Rants.”
The discussion was about celebrities eating during interviews, and how just once it would be cool to see someone polish off a cheeseburger or something. I commented that only very thin actresses get to do that, in the guise of A) proving they’re not anorexic; B) proving they just naturally have the metabolism of gazelles, hee, and it’s just natural on them. Both of which are bullshit, and piss me off.
What pisses me off even more, along those same lines–and this is a blast from the past–is a scene in the Charlie’s Angels movie. Drew Barrymore, who produced it or whatever it was she did, insisted that there be a scene in it where the Angels sat down and ate burgers and fries, to convey the massage to girls women should eat and that they shouldn’t starve themselves to be thin or some crap like that. Except it’s bullshit, and Drew knows it.
If you want to be thin, you cannot sit down and tuck into plates of cheeseburgers and fries every day. You just can’t. Once a week, sure, especially if you’re fairly careful the rest of the time. But the idea that thin women gorge themselves at every opportunity is, IMO, just as damaging to young women as telling them not to eat.
It’s yet another unrealistic ideal for them to live up to. Not only are they supposed to be size 2s, they’re supposed to be able to eat half a cow and STILL be a size 2. For the record, I am a size 2 (actually, the jeans I’m wearing at the moment are a Juniors size 1, but they’re a bit tight). I worked hard to get to this size. I work hard to stay this size. That means I don’t get to eat burgers and fries every day. I don’t get to eat half a chocolate cream pie in the evening; in fact, I rarely eat anything for dessert except a bar of taffy (I like taffy, especially strawberry taffy. It’s not as good as Drumsticks–a taffy lolly I used to get in England–but I digress). When I’m hungry during the day I have a few pretzel sticks or something, or I don’t have anything at all.
In 2007, see, my weight hit 143 lbs. Yes, I know, for some women that looks great, but let me repeat that I’m barely 5’2, and very small-boned. I looked very round. Very round indeed. My features were distorted. I looked miserable, and I was miserable, and I got tired of wearing baggy t-shirts and having only one pair of jeans that fit me. So I started counting calories and making better choices, and by the time I was done in mid-2008, I’d lost 40 lbs.
Do I eat? Of course I eat. You have to eat to live. Do I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want? No. I don’t. Neither do 99% of slim women, frankly. That’s a fact. It’s bad enough all the pressure on women to be thin, to be beautiful, to be perfect, to be sexy but not slutty, all that other stuff, without also adding the pressure that they should be able to have that perfect thin body without any effort, and that if they can’t stay thin while eating their weight in french fries there’s something wrong with them.
Not to mention, why, in determining that it’s necessary to show women eating–which is in itself kind of an insulting little thing to do, really–why choose burgers and fries? Why not a steak and baked potato? Why not some pasta? Why deliberately choose something extra fattening, that will make young women feel especially inadequate? If you want to set an example, why not have them sitting down to a really healthy meal? (Note: I honestly don’t think anything is wrong with burgers and fries as a meal, I don’t. I love them. I eat them probably once a week or once every couple of weeks, and my homemade burgers are delicious if I say so myself. But while I don’t think they’re the health disaster so many people do, I also don’t think they’re as good for you as fresh vegetables or leaner meats or whatever else, and I don’t see why, if you’re consciously setting out to set an example for young women, you wouldn’t want to set an example that shows them how to truly eat right).
We need to stop pretending that normal people are just naturally thin, and that no effort is required to maintain it. We need to stop pretending that our weight is something we have no control over, frankly, because that damages everyone (IMO). We need to stop sending the message, deliberately or not, that you are somehow inadequate if you can’t eat a plate of lard every day and not gain a pound. Oh, and you should be able to get up and run a marathon after, too.
Those super-skinny actresses are super-skinny, and they wolf down those burgers in interviews, because they probably haven’t eaten more than dry salad for a week preparing for that splurge. Being thin takes work. And you know what? It doesn’t look good on everyone, either. Certainly being super-skinny doesn’t. I always remember how pretty Laura Flynn-Boyle used to look before she became just leathery skin stretched over old bones.
If I had a different figure, I’d happily gain some weight. I would. I’m not a very curvy woman. I’m fairly straight-up-and-down; I don’t have a large bust, I don’t have a cushy, callipygian bottom. I am slight, petite in a word, and because of that every extra pound shows, and the only way I can feel comfortable and look good in my clothes is to be quite thin. If I was curvy, busty? Then I’d be happy to be curvy and busty, and I wouldn’t worry so much.
I don’t mean this post as The Personal History Of Stacia’s Weight, or as some kind of justification for my own appearance or anything else. All I mean it as is an attempt to be realistic, and to say something realistic to people. Yes, you can control your own weight, except in very rare cases. But yes, you do pay a price for that, and the price is food. Once you hit your goal weight you can relax a bit, sure, but you can never completely let yourself go (not to mention that after the first month or so your stomach shrinks and you just can’t eat as much anyway). Getting and staying thin is, for most of us, something we have to work at, not something that we can just tra-la-la through life not worrying about at all.
So why do we insist on lying to our young women about that? Why do we insist on making them believe that not only do they have to be thin, they have to be effortlessly thin? Yeah, I get the desire to keep them from becoming anorexic, but I believe that whether we’re honest or not about what it takes to maintain a certain weight, anorexia will still happen. I think it’s more dangerous to tell them there’s no connection between what they eat and their weight, personally, but that may be just me.
And yeah, all of this may be just me. But it’s my rant, too. I just think we put enough pressure on young women without adding another in the idea that they should be eating like hogs at every opportunity while still staying very thin and gorgeous and perfect. It’s time we were honest with young women, and everyone else, about how difficult it is to hold to those artificial and often harmful standards.
Or maybe we could just give up those ridiculous standards anyway? I know, I know, too much to hope for. Sigh.
I’m out of rant energy now.
What Stace had to say on Friday, September 10th, 2010
Oh, before I start, there’s a new interview with me up at Paperback Dolls, done on the Saturday night during Dragoncon. It’s pretty decent, I think, though I could have sworn it went on longer than that. Maybe it was just because the interviewer was really fun to talk to. It was my first ever face-to-face, talk-into-a-recorder interview, too!
So I do wish I’d been more comfortable/experienced with that. And, you know, that I didn’t sound so silly and like I wasn’t actually answering the questions posed. Sigh. But still, it’s fun, and Caitlin came to hang out with us partway through so she’s in there too, which is of course awesome except all of our little asides and stuff aren’t in there, heh. Anyway. Go read it if you like.
I’ve also done another interview, with Julie at Yummy Man and Kick Ass Chicks, which was, again, lots of fun. That’s going to be posted at some point tomorrow, Saturday the 11th. (Which, has everyone forgotten what that day is? I don’t think we should have a national day of mourning forever, but I do think it’s sad and upsetting that I’m not even seeing mention of it anywhere.)
Anyway. A few months ago I had a discussion with a few friends about this subject, and now it’s come up again. Will someone please tell me when everyone decided that they had to be right all the time, that they never had to take blame for or accept responsibility for their mistakes or the effects their words and/or actions have on others, and that apologizing in any way is a terrible, weak, dumb thing to do?
As I think I’ve said before, we all–every single one of us–has at one time or another hurt another person. We said something we didn’t mean. Or we meant it when we said it but regretted saying it after. Or it was a flip, throw-away comment, made as a joke, that inadvertently really hurt or upset someone else. Or made them angry. Or whatever. Maybe we were having an off day. Maybe they were simply someone who doesn’t and never will understand us, and so the ability to connect and follow meanings just isn’t there.
We’ve all done it. All of us. We’re human, and that’s what humans do. Show me a person who has never in their lives hurt another person and I’ll show you a person who’s spent their entire lives in one room, or who has simply never spoken to anyone, although even then, what if someone tried to speak to them, and they didn’t reply? Wouldn’t that be hurtful? I think so.
But when did it become such a horrible, evil thing to do to just say you’re sorry? When did we decide we would rather argue and argue and argue, instead of just saying, “I’m sorry,” and letting the matter drop?
My friends and I were discussing a few of the biggest internet kerfuffles of the last year/year and a half or so, and how big they got, and how painful they were for so many people, and how in pretty much every case, the whole thing could have been avoided had one person, early on, just said, “You know, I’m not sure I understand why you’re upset, but it’s enough for me to know you are upset, so I really want to apologize because I certainly didn’t want to hurt you or make you angry.”
Apologizing is not giving in. Apologizing is not admitting you’re wrong. You don’t have to believe you’re wrong to apologize. It’s simply the right thing to do. The polite, civilized thing to do. And in a society which is supposed to be polite and civilized, I notice a disturbing number of people lately who don’t care who they hurt, who don’t care how many people they drag through the mud or rip apart, who don’t care how much filth spills over onto other people who had the misfortune of being in the same area. It’s all worth it if they get to prove they’re right. They are unequivocally, absolutely, totally right, and all the people who don’t see that are obviously morons with no soul, and if Person A just explains him- or herself enough times, or offers enough justifications, then Person B will of course realize how wrong they’ve been, bow meekly, and walk away, leaving Person A victorious.
Except life doesn’t work that way, and people don’t work that way, and all that will happen is everyone will get angrier and angrier and angrier, and friendships and reputations will be ruined and psyches scarred, just because everyone had to be right.
Why is it so damn hard to just say, “I’m sorry?” To just be graceful, and admit that although you meant no offense, obviously whatever you said or did had an unintended consequence? Why are people so reluctant to do that, why are they so determined to sacrifice the feelings of anyone and everyone else just so they can be right? Why are they so determined to convince themselves and the other people involved that they were wrong to be offended, or to take the comment that way? That it’s all their fault for being oversensitive, or babyish, or for expecting special treatment? People will rely on the worst self-serving pop-psychology bullshit to justify their own nastiness and insensitivity, because apparently just acknowledging and respecting the feelings of another human being is just way beyond their skill level, or what they’re prepared to do.
I don’t get it. It pisses me off. Grow up, you fucking morons. Just apologize, the way an adult does. Only a child needs to insist on being right all the time, and in resorting to this “blame the victim for their obviously skewed worldview” crap so they can avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. And you know, if you’re like that, and you seriously need so bad to be right all the time and to believe that you personally exist in this ethereal bubble of spiritual, social, and mental perfection that no mere mortal can possibly understand, then go fuck yourself, because you’re an asshole.
Yes, there are some people who deliberately set out to hurt or offend others. But most people don’t. I get that. Most of us get that. And like I said above, we’ve all done it. I can totally understand the “I really don’t understand what I did to upset you,” feeling. I’ve been there. I can totally understand the “That’s really not what I meant, and I find it pretty impossible to even understand how you misunderstood me so thoroughly, or why you assumed the worst like that.” I’ve been there too. I understand how it hurts to be misunderstood like that, because again, been there. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of hurt feelings and offense. And it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun. Nobody likes to be hurt, and honestly, no decent person likes to think they’ve hurt someone else.
But sometimes we just have to suck it up, you know? If I make a joke about trees, and someone’s cousin married a tree and they then take offense, I need to apologize. By doing so I’m not admitting what I said was wrong. I’m not admitting defeat. I’m not admitting that I am an anti-tree hatist of the most evil proportion. I’m just saying that I didn’t mean to hurt or offend them. How is that wrong? How is that a lie? How is that insincere? Why is that so hard for people?
And even if I think both the person and their cousin are completely nut-rot crazy, I apologize. Yes, because again, I hurt or offended them, and that’s not a good thing to do. But also because perhaps someone offended by something like that is a bit unstable or is simply having a really bad, painful day, and by apologizing I can make them feel better. Maybe someone offended by that is the type who’ll stick around arguing for hours and hours, who’ll start spamming the blog or sending crazy emails, and I can head all of that trouble off at the pass just by saying I’m sorry. (That’s another thing too, about the Need To Be Right: why do you spend so much time and energy arguing with someone online? Why not just shrug and walk away? Stop replying to comments about it, stop engaging in discussions about it. It’s very simple. Let it go.)
By arguing and arguing, and needing so badly to be right, I prove not only what an insecure, needy little twat I am, but that I truly have no manners, that I truly am a selfish boor. Who wants to hang out with that kind of person?
There comes a point in every argument where the best thing to do is simply to give up. I believe that when you’re hurt someone, it’s your duty to apologize right away. But if that’s not what the argument is about, or if it’s past that point or whatever, there is still a sense of class and grace in being the one to walk away. It doesn’t make you look weak; just the opposite, in fact. Being willing to apologize, being willing to say that although you can’t agree, you don’t want to argue anymore, makes you look braver, stronger. It makes you the bigger person. I admire someone who can gracefully apologize and walk away. I do not admire someone who will resort to anything, any argument no matter how low, any justification no matter how crappy, any defense no matter how far-fetched and desperate, to prove themselves right. And especially, to lay the blame on the other person.
You know what? An argument–whether in real life or, especially, online–isn’t a fucking trial to save you from a murder rap. You’re not trying to escape a death sentence. It’s just not that damned important; it shouldn’t be, certainly. It shouldn’t be so important that your entire self-worth and self-image hinge on you being deemed THE VICTOR in this particular throwdown. It’s just a disagreement. You apologize and move on. And you know, if you’re so offended by the other person taking offense, maybe all of the bullshit you’re trying to ascribe to them apply to you as well, hmm?
It’s never pleasant to be told something you said or did was taken badly and upset someone. Nobody likes to feel like the villain. And certainly, when there are issues like racism or sexism involved, that can be really upsetting. But the way to prove that you’re not isn’t by arguing and yelling and claiming anyone who saw that in your statement is obviously a moron and way oversensitive. The way to prove you’re not is just to apologize. “Oh, man, it didn’t even occur to me that someone would read my comment that way. I’m so, so sorry it made you feel like that!”
It’s very easy. It’s part of being a member of society, whether that’s an online one or a Real Life one. And it’s part of being a decent person, frankly.
You don’t need to be right. You do need to behave like a human being. Just fucking apologize. Or soon you’ll have no one to apologize to, because no one will be speaking to you–except, perhaps, a couple of other sycophantic tools, but how long do you think that will last, when you’re all so rude, unpleasant, and convinced of your own superiority?
You hurt someone, you own your words. Whatever. Just do it. Grow the hell up.
What Stace had to say on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009
So Jade Goody has died.
Of cervical cancer.
At the age of 27.
Cervical cancer is one of the slowest forms of cancer there is. If caught early, cervical cancer is nearly 100% treatable.
But Jade Goody’s cervical cancer was not caught early. You know why? Because Jade Goody was unfortunate enough to live in England, where regular (not annual, I hasten to point out, but regular, by which the NHS means every three years) pap smears are not given to young women until they reach the age of 25. Twenty-fucking-five.
Many forms of cervical cancer stem from strains of HPV, HumanPappillomaVirus. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease.
That’s why in the US, pap smears are recommended for all women once they become sexually active. Because sexual activity automatically increases your risk of HPV exponentially. And because even without HPV, you are still at risk (I get irritated when I see people behaving as though HPV is the *only* cause of/risk factor for cervical cancer. It’s NOT) once you become sexually active.
A loose scan of my memory gives me the names of three or four of my female friends, including myself (I’ll get to that in a second) who were treated at one time or another for cervical dysplasia–precancerous cells on the cervix. To a woman treatment was short and simple, and fairly non-invasive. Easy.
Pap smears save lives. Period. End of fucking story.
At least, it’s the end of the story for Jade Goody, dead at twenty-seven, leaving her two small sons behind. Who wants to be the one to explain to those boys that their mother is dead now because England couldn’t be bothered to spend the money for a simple test that would have saved her life? And, far worse, that rather than simply admitting they can’t afford it but urging women to get them anyway, by not even recommending the test until age twenty-five they imply strongly that the pap is a waste of time, that there’s no point in getting one before you hit twenty-five, even in a country with one of the highest teen birth rates in the world (Goody surely could have afforded private insurance or to get the test on her own, but she’d been told it was unecessary)? Which would certainly imply a very high rate of teen sexual activity, wouldn’t it? A country which decides to save money by crushing the lives of young women and treating them as though their health is unimportant, that the pap smear is unecessary and silly? Do you want to explain that to them? I sure don’t.
It’s not just paps, either. Right after we moved here my husband asked his doctor about getting an annual physical. At thirty-three, with histories of cancer and heart disease on both sides of his family, he’d been getting annual check-ups for three years as recommended. The doctor laughed at him. “Oh, yes, well, that’s just insurance companies in America wanting to make more money,” he said. “You don’t need an annual check-up until you hit fifty.”
(No, this is a different doctor from the one who told him, when he went in with bronchitis and could hardly breathe, “You look healthy enough. Give it a few more days, and if you start coughing up blood come back.” But the point is the same, isn’t it?)
So Jade Goody is dead at twenty-seven, because she grew up in a country that told her pap smears were a waste of time. Whereas I consider her death to be a waste of time; time she could have spent raising her children and living a life.
I got my first pap smear at eighteen, because I knew I was supposed to get them once I became sexually active; it was something which had been drilled into my head by teen magazines and Health teachers and the world at large. Because I didn’t have health insurance I went to Planned Parenthood and paid $35, if memory serves (they bill you on a sliding scale there. Years later I also went to PP for an HIV test, don’t remember what I paid for it; I didn’t think I was at risk for HIV and I wasn’t, but I am a bit of a hypochondriac so wanted to be certain.) It wasn’t too bad; it didn’t really hurt or anything. They sent me my results; all clear.
I got another at nineteen. Another at twenty, and twenty-one. Twenty-two I skipped, but went again shortly after turning twenty-three.
That’s when they dinged me.
I had moderate-to-severe dysplasia, confirmed by a biopsy done with a colposcopy (which is like a really bright light and a dye or something that shows the doctor where the “bad” cells are during the examination so he can take samples from those spots). My gynecologist–a fantastic man who went on to deliver both my children–booked me in for a LEEP biopsy, whereby a loop of wire with an electric current running through it was used to remove the cells. The only really unpleasant thing about it was the lydocaine shot; not painful, but I had an uncomfortable reaction to the lydocaine. It took about an hour.
I did not have HPV, by the way.
I went back every six months for the first year or two to get another biopsy & colposcopy. After three years I was considered “clean” and could go back to regular annual paps. Those have been clean too, ever since, although of course I’ve only had one since I’ve been (not pleasant; no chair with stirrups, you have to lie down, tilt your hips up and spread your legs, with no little paper blanket or anything, which is both uncomfortable and undignified) here because history of cervical cancer or not, the NHS considers women’s health to be unimportant (another friend of mine came up against a stone wall when trying to get a mammogram at thirty-five, after every other woman in her family had been disganosed at various times with early-onset breast cancer.)
My other friends who’d also had cervical cancer, who’d had crosurgery (freezing) or LEEPs like I had or cone biopsies? All had the same outcome. One incidence; closer checkups after, eventually sliding into regular annual checks again. We were all very lucky to live somewhere that paps are taken seriously. We were all very lucky indeed.
We were also all, to a woman, under twenty-five.
The youngest was eighteen. The oldest was me, at twenty-three.
Think about that for a minute. If I had grown up here instead of there, I might very well not be alive now. I might be alive but without my two children; had the cancer spread I probably would have ended up with a hysterectomy.
Dead or infertile by the age of twenty-five. All of us. All because in order to save money the NHS pretends there’s no point in doing a test, an important test which has been proven to save countless lives. Think for a minute about the women you know; have any of them had it? How old were they?
There’s been a movement here since the Goody diagnosis to lower the age for pap smears to twenty, in accordance with what the other UK countries do. Which is better, but not enough.
Pap smears should be done annually once you become sexually active. End of story. On a message board a little while back some women were having a discussion about this, and one was saying (at twenty-one, I think) that she was terrified to go get the pap, that she cried at the thought of anyone who wasn’t her fiance seeing her ladyparts, that she was panicky and sick and blah blah blah. And you know, I felt bad for her; I can’t imagine what that kind of fear would be like. It’s not one I’ve ever had. A doctor is a doctor. To me it’s no different than having my hands examined.
But I told her something. She didn’t like it and probably still thinks I’m a big old bitch for it, but I didn’t apologize then and I won’t apologize now, because it’s true. If you’re not mature enough to suck it up and get a pap smear, you are not mature enough to be sexually active.
Seriously. Responsibility is part of it (the same holds for birth control). Pap smears are part of being a grown woman and not a child. I have two daughters, and you bet your ass they’re going to get their paps every year when the time comes, if I have to drag them in and hold them down on the table myself. Because they are so, so, so hugely important.
It’s just too bad the NHS doesn’t think so. And that now another young woman is dead because of it. I never watched Jade Goody on TV or really knew very much about her; reality TV isn’t my thing, in general. But I am absolutely furious that she is dead, when she didn’t have to die. I am furious that her government killed her by pretending she wasn’t at risk for a disease which strikes thousands of young women every year. I am furious that they behave as though my experience and the experience of so many others is unimportant or an aberration; I cry to think of all I might have missed had I been born and raised here instead of America.
A young woman is dead today, of an entirely preventable and treatable illness. And I feel sick about it. And I hope the NHS does too, because they should be fucking ashamed of themselves.
PLEASE, if you are reading this and you are female, or if you’re reading this and you know some females , PLEASE encourage them to get their pap smears. Please. It is so important.
NOTE: Last night I noticed Mrs. Giggles–whom you all know I adore–linked to this entry and wrote an excellent and very informative post about Pap smears and the types of cells/cell abnormalities found in them. It’s well worth a read. But more importantly, Mrs. G. makes a point that I neglected to make: whether or not you are sexually active, you should be getting your pap smears annually. I don’t care if you’re a nun, once you reach a certain age–Mrs. G suggests 18–you need to do them. And she is 100% correct. I’m ashamed that I didn’t mention this myself. Please…get the test, whether you’re having sex or not.
(I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow, I promise, and I’ll post the OMFGAWESOME cover and back copy for UNHOLY GHOSTS, and you do not want to miss those!!!)