Archive for 'shut the hell up'
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 Friday, March 5th, 2010
First, I forgot to mention here (though I have put it on Twitter a few times) that I’m doing a chat at BookSmugglers and it lasts until tomorrow, and when you ask me a question you’re entered to win a complete set of the Demons books. So if you haven’t stopped by already, please do!
Second…well. My last post got considerably more attention that I ever anticipated, so that was quite a surprise. And I have some follow-up questions about it, but those I think will wait until another time. At the moment I just want to address one thing quickly, and another in a bit more detail.
First, as always, when you put things out on the internet and people see it, they’re going to react, just like when you write a book and put it out there people are going to react. And really, part of being a writer is learning to accept that and let the negative stuff roll off your back, or learn from it. It really doesn’t bother me anymore, and the comment I want to discuss didn’t bother me personally, I just find it’s indicative of what the whole point of my post the other day was.
I discovered, quite by accident, that apparently there are some people who feel that Moira and myself, and any other writer who shares our opinions, are simply kissing ass. I find this extremely sad, I have to admit. Is this what the world has come to, that when people see a wrong and speak up about it they’re immediately assumed to have some sort of ulterior motive?
Have we really reached a point where “Writers hate readers” has become the default position, so any writer who claims to actually like readers and want to see them treated well is automatically suspected of just being a big old liar, who probably spends their private, secret hours lurking in bookstores and tripping innocent readers as they pass by, just for fun? Or who runs around various reader blogs and sites leaving anonymous comments along the lines of “You’re all just thieves why don’t you go fuck yourselves you selfish bastards?” Seriously. Am I the only one who finds it really sad that we live in a world where a writer who says “I love readers, and want to please them, and want to see them treated like human beings instead of dogs,” must be an ass kisser, because the person making the accusation apparently can honestly not imagine any other reason why a writer might feel that way and express that feeling?
Read the rest of this entry »
What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
I’m in a release day frame of mind lately, what with DEMON POSSESSED being released last week. See, it’s not just that that book was released, it’s also that it means UNHOLY GHOSTS will be out soon. Well, soonish, lol; three months.
And like any other writer with a book coming out, I’m thinking about promo. See, I want you to buy the book(s). I want you to get all of your friends to buy the book(s). I want to sell thousands and thousands and thousands of copies. I want to hit the NYT list, or the USA Today list, or the Publisher’s Weekly list, or Bookscan or whatever. Lists make writers happy, you see. And they make publishers happy, and everybody’s happy. Happiness is good.
And of course, I would hope that you guys, my lovely readers, would want to help me sell books or hit lists or whatever. Because we have something of a symbiotic relationship, you know, you and me. I write books, and you buy them, and when you buy them you encourage me to write more of them, and it’s all very cheering and makes me feel warm and happy inside to think that I’ve given you something you enjoy (I honestly love giving presents; I’m one of those weird people at holidays who gets more excited about the things I’m giving than what I might get).
But here’s the thing. While I would hope that you would want to help, I don’t expect you to. I’m surprised and thrilled and grateful whenever you do, but I don’t expect it. At all. Ever. And I certainly wouldn’t presume to INSIST you do, or berate you for not doing so. Or imply that you’re stupid for not purchasing my books in the exact fashion that I would prefer you to do so.
Sadly, it seems sometimes as if I–okay, I and several of my close friends–are alone in that feeling, that instinctive cringing when we see readers being treated like nothing more than open wallets whose sole purpose is to drive said writer to greater glory.
Do I want to hit a list? Of course, although I would never presume to think I have a real shot at it. Do I think it would be great if readers everywhere held off on buying my books until the day of release? Well, sure, I guess so, but see the aforementioned “I would never presume to think I have a shot at a list anyway so what does it matter,” answer. (Yeah, I know, that wasn’t the full answer, but it’s what I meant.)
Are there things readers can do to help a favorite author hit a list? Yeah, but not as many as you think, really. Sure, waiting until release day–or the day before, since books release on Tuesdays and sales are counted for the entire week, so buying on Monday is okay–helps. That’s a good thing to do, if you’re interested, but really that’s about it. It’s certainly all I would ever think to ask.
See…I work for YOU. I mean, yes, I work for myself, but I DO the work for you. You are my audience. You are not my slaves. You do not exist in order to feed my ego or allow me to add a shiny “List” pin to my vest. It’s not for me to tell you where you’re allowed to buy my books or in what format. I’m just amazed and grateful that you buy them at all.
I’ll be perfectly honest here. There are times when it feels as if the world of readers and the world of writers are at war. Readers want certain things; they have a right to want those things as consumers. But writers/publishers want certain things as well, and we have a right to want those things as content creators and producers. And don’t even get me started on copyright violations/piracy, and some of the justifications for those. Again, to be honest? There are times when I see discussions of it, or come across my books on filesharing sites, and have the sick, deep feeling that I should just give the hell up. I can never “win”–by which I mean earn a decent living consistently, when I’m being stolen from.
And it’s not just the financial theft, it’s the feeling that someone has literally reached into my mind and taken something from me without permission. It feels like I got drunk and told a deep secret to someone I thought was a friend, and that so-called friend turned around and told the world, and they’re all laughing at me. Or like a when a guy you really like sleeps with you and then never calls you again, you know? It makes me feel worthless, and frustrated, and lonely and sad. Sure piracy bothers me because of the money, sure, but really?
Piracy just hurts. It hurts to think someone is using you for entertainment but doesn’t think you deserve any compensation for that. It hurts to think you’re seen as less than human; as some sort of machine which exists for the gratification of others but is not permitted any gratification of its own. It hurts to feel that someone thinks they’re entitled to the fruits of your labor–the expression of the truth as you see it and the worlds and people you created and love–without paying for them. It doesn’t feel like a royalty payment was stolen from you. It feels like a tiny part of your soul was stolen from you.
That shit hurts.
And I imagine it hurts readers, too, when they’re made to feel–from being yelled at, lectured, or treated like they’re stupid–that they exist solely to provide the writer with titles and accolades. That just buying and reading and enjoying and talking about a book isn’t enough, that they now must buy it at certain times, in certain places, in certain formats, at certain phases of the moon, or whatever. Just as writers are not simply typewriters churning out words, readers are not simply notches on that big bestseller belt. They are people.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. Just that I think it’s wrong.
Do I want to sell a lot of books? Hell, yes!
But I don’t want to just sell a lot of books. I want to entertain a lot of people. I want to give them something. That’s what this is about, not numbers or lists. It’s about books and writing and reading and the way when we read a book we love we feel connected to that book, and those characters, and that author. And when we discover another fan of those books we have a connection with that person, and books created that connection, and it wouldn’t exist without writers, readers, and publishers.
So do I want to hit a list? Of course. Have I thought of various promotional things to do, fun things, that may help facilitate that? Sure.
Do I want to hit a list at the expense of readers, by berating them or nagging them, by treating them like my minions or like they fucking owe me that goddamn list, so they better get off their fat asses and do what I say?
That’s not worth it to me. I don’t want it that way. It wouldn’t mean anything that way.
I may never hit a list. But I will always be grateful that people have bought my books, and read them and loved them and took the time to tell me. Yes, this is a business, and I want to succeed in it and make money. But not at the expense of readers, and not at the expense of my own soul.
So that’s it. Just some things I’m thinking of, and will continue to think of as we get closer to the summer and the release of the Downside books (finished copyedits on CITY OF GHOSTS last week, and am quite pleased, btw).
ETA: Moira Rogers, who writes awesome books, has also done a post on this topic, and I highly recommend you check it out too. My response to it? Ditto.
What Stace had to say on Thursday, November 12th, 2009
For those of you who haven’t yet heard, yesterday Galleycat published a rather ridiculous opinion piece about how agents are unnecessary and they don’t do anything and they’re just evil old vultures and blah blah blah. The same crap we’ve heard before, in other words, although I find it fascinating that this piece was written by someone who last year–obviously unaware that I already had an agent and two book deals–offered to query agents on my behalf for the low, low price of $500.00, and yes I still have that email exchange saved. He’s perfectly entitled to run such a business and I’m not calling him a scammer, but it’s interesting, isn’t it?
Agent Miriam Goderich rebutted it here very nicely. So, I’m sure, have others, but I’m about to add my voice to the chorus simply because that’s the way I roll, baby.
Do you need an agent?
Yes. Yes, you fucking do.
Okay, sure. If you’re planning on having a career in epublishing, you probably do not need an agent. If you’re planning to self-publish, you do not need an agent. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things. I started out in epublishing, without an agent, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I’m glad I did it and am grateful to Ellora’s Cave for treating me so well and enabling me to make some decent cash. Working with them was a pleasure for me.
But–no offense–I wanted more than that. I wanted books on shelves. I wanted advances. I wanted a bigger career. I wanted to move out of genre romance/erotic romance; not because I didn’t enjoy it or don’t enjoy it (writing and reading), but because the more of it I wrote the more a little voice inside me told me it was simply not quite the right fit for my voice or the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.
To accomplish those things (aside from moving away from writing romance, which of course is a huge genre in all forms of publishing: ebook, mass market paperback, trade paperback, hardcover, audio, whatever) I needed an agent.
Here’s what fascinates me (and infuriates me) about the original Galleycat article (aside from the fact that its author apparently also runs a website devoted to helping writers self-publish; again, legal, but certainly interesting). It’s this paragraph here:
One published author who asks to be unnamed disagrees, “What do you need an agent for anymore, really? Why? To negotiate a meager advance? You can’t get them on the phone anyway. You’re stuck promoting the book yourself because publishers don’t put any marketing dollars into your book unless you’re John Grisham. I don’t see the whole point when I can hire an attorney to negotiate my publishing contract for a flat fee or just upload the book to Kindle myself.”
Let’s take a look at these points, shall we?
Read the rest of this entry »
What Stace had to say on Monday, October 26th, 2009
A little note in advance: I’m about to rant. I may rant at some length. I’m ranting about something other people have ranted about, as well. So be warned.
So here’s what happened. Wednesday, the New York Times ran an article about the Kindle and how many Kindle owners are now buying more books than they used to. The end of the article contained the following paragraphs:
Ms. Englin has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like “The Lost Symbol” at the same time — while paying for them only once.
“I read much more, I tend to read faster for some reason, and I read a greater variety of things,” said Ms. Englin, adding that this is nearly the same as lending a physical book to friends. “We haven’t really looked closely at Amazon’s terms of service. But I do suspect we are breaking the rules.”
Now. I read the original NYT article because it was linked to in Publisher’s marketplace, in the daily emails I get from them. I saw that last paragraph and, I admit, had a twinge. A moment of “Hey, that doesn’t seem quite right.” But then almost immediately after I thought two things:
1. That this was clearly just a couple of friends sharing books
2. That this is in essence no different from, say, a group of friends with low incomes or little disposable cash, who pool their money and buy books together to share. I did this a few times as a teen; mostly for hardcovers, but sometimes to get three books instead of one or whatever.
And that was basically it. I closed the article and went about my day.
Too bad some other authors didn’t do the same. I’m not going to name any names here. You can find them if you really want. But a few other authors also saw that article, either through PM like I did or because they get the Times or whatever. Those authors went on Twitter and began what I can only describe as a witch hunt, a name-and-shame campaign where they not only scolded Ms. Englin and called her a thief, but actually listed her Twitter identity in their tweets–her Twitter identity, which appears to be her professional identity, as her Twitter seems to be used almost exclusively for business (she’s in marketing or consulting or something like that).
No, I’m not kidding. These people actually felt perfectly justified in naming and publicly scolding this woman, and in encouraging others to retweet their rants and join in berating her as well, in public, in front of her friends, family, clients, and potential clients.
Read the rest of this entry »