Archive for 'things that make me sick'
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.) (For the record, the “f-bomb” or variations thereof, is used exactly six times in this 3075-word post. I know, it’s horrible, isn’t it? It’s as if I don’t know any other words. I mean, how gross is it for a girl to use the f-word? Shouldn’t I be sitting quietly in a corner, deferring to other people, refusing to have or express opinions on anything, and giggling with my hand over my mouth–as a woman apparently should? Next thing you know I’ll be wanting to vote or drive a car by myself; give me an inch, you know, and I’ll use adult language like almost every other adult on the planet. The horrors!)
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 Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
(In which I interrupt the SACRIFICIAL MAGIC pre-release-week festivities and fun to bring you a huge rant. I warn you in advance that this topic has made me rather emotional, and I’m emotional anyway since it is pre-release week and we’re moving house this weekend, and maybe this is going to come off harsher than I intend it to; I hope it won’t, I don’t want it to and I will be careful, but just as I spent several days before my wedding being completely unable to read others’s tones or body language from stress, so am I having difficulty at the moment. I also warn you this is LONG.)
So yesterday I popped onto Facebook, which I’ve been trying to do more lately, because I have friends who hang out there and I want to be more active there. And while checking my timeline I found someone had posted an image. I won’t re-post the image, but it was one of those “I’m going to make my saying a picture so you’ll read it” things, and it said:
“Brotip #1415: ladies, guys are sick of hearing you ask where all of the ‘nice guys’ are. They’re in the friend zone, where you left them.”
Okay, fuck you.
Let me tell you a story about those “nice guys” shoved into that cold, cruel “friend zone” by all those heartless bitches who only want to date assholes, okay? 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, September 20th, 2011
Sigh. This has happened to me a lot lately, so forgive me if I rant for a minute.
Anyone can email me. I love it when readers email me, frankly; it makes everything worthwhile and more. There’s a contact form here on the site that you can use, if you want. Or ask; I give my email address all the time, all over the place. It’s staciakane AT gmail. Go ahead. I love to hear from you. I am currently way behind on answering reader emails, yes, and for that I am horrendously sorry. But that doesn’t mean the emails themselves don’t fill me with squealy delight. They do.
Here’s what does NOT fill me with squealy delight: Emails from people who clearly have no idea who I am. Don’t get me wrong; I hardly think I’m a household name. Of course I’m not.
But at least a couple of times a week I get emails asking me if I’m interested in “developing an app,” “sponsoring a product,” “participating in” some sort of promotion or activity or whatever, or–these are my favorites–offering me their services for a guest post on the blog. See, they’re Real Professional Writers(ZOMG!1!!!), and presumably my blog is in great need of some Real Professional Writing and could really benefit from their personal flair and expertise and stuff. And in exchange, all this Real Professional Writer asks is that I link back to them/their site!
Sorry, but this is insulting. I myself happen to be a Real Professional Writer, one with more credits and experience than you, Ms. Give-me-your-blog-audience-to-publicize-myself. You’d know that if you’d bothered at all to even look at the blog you’re proposing to visit. And you, Mr. App Developer? Why exactly should I pay you to develop an “app” based on…what?
I get them on Goodreads, too; a new “friend” will send me, immediately upon my approving their request, an email with links to and info about their self-published books (sorry, but I haven’t had a single commercially published author do this) and a request that I review it. They never mention my own books; they never give any indication that they even know me as anything more than just another name on a list. Again, I don’t expect people to just know my name but I do expect them to at least, you know, look at my Goodreads page–the one they had to click on to send me the request to begin with? Their books often don’t fit into any of the types of books I’ve ever rated at Goodreads and don’t fit into UF either; it’s a form email they send to every person they can, the way spammers do (and that’s what they are, spammers). I generally reply and ask what about me specifically makes them think I’m the audience for their book, and they never respond (shocking, I know).
You contacted me. Yes, I know I’m just one email address out of many you’re spamming/just one Goodreads account out of many you’re spamming. I don’t care. Don’t contact me if you don’t have any idea what you can actually offer me. Don’t contact me if you have no idea who I am and can’t even be bothered to spend two minutes scanning my website. It’s not like information about me and/or my work is secret; I have a whole website devoted to it.
Don’t contact me if you do not have an answer to the question, “Okay, and why are you contacting me, specifically?” Because I’m going to ask. And if you don’t have an answer, we’re not doing business. Of any kind. (I will report you for spam, too. Goodreads is a place where readers can talk about books; that’s what it exists for. Those readers don’t want or deserve your contempt, and “contempt” is exactly what it is when you treat them like potential sales rather than individuals, and when you look at them and see only what they can do for you, and behave as though they have some obligation to do that. Like your desire for self-promotion is more important then their time/privacy/right to go about their business without being solicited by you. You don’t care about their actual interests or tastes, you don’t care about their likes or dislikes, you only care about getting them to buy your book. You may not realize it’s contemptuous, but it is.)
I love having my pals over here for guest posts. I’m happy to offer people guest spots if I think it’s something my readers would be interested in, and I don’t mind requests from people asking if I’d be willing to let them do a guest posts. It’s fine. Please feel free to ask. But I somehow don’t think my readers are that interested in Random Nonfic Writer’s Random Blog Posts. And I get pissed as hell when Random Writer treats me like some kind of idiot who’ll be so sparkly-diamond-eyes thrilled to have a Real Writer offer to do a guest post for me that I won’t even consider the truth of the matter, which is that they’re trying to use the years of hard work I’ve put in to build my own audience to give themselves a jump without any effort.
Having someone here on my blog to write a guest post is in essence me endorsing that person and/or their book. It’s me saying to my readers, “Hey guys, so-and-so is a pal and a good writer, and you might enjoy this.” I don’t generally do that for strangers (unless of course I was blown away by their book). No, my blog doesn’t get thousands of hits a day, but it’s a fairly solid audience; we hit the mid-four digits every week, at least (did I mention before about the weird dichotomy there? When I used to get maybe 100 hits a day, a lot more people commented. Now there are way more hits but hardly any comments. Just seems odd).
So, there you go. My little semi-rant about spam and self-promotion.
Anyway. On to other things.
Last night I got a look at the revised SACRIFICIAL MAGIC cover, and I’m really, really pleased. I’ll be showing that one off ASAP; the chick on it actually looks like she could be Chess! And it has a new sort of feel that I just…I really dig it, it’s a cool cover. Can’t wait to show it to you guys, so let’s hope I get the OK fast.
I also have the final playlist for the book, which I won’t be posting for a while yet–probably not until January or so–but I do have it all set up. Incidentally, although there was an extended exclusive excerpt of Chapter One up on Stellar Four, and although there will be an extended exclusive excerpt from Chapter Two up on Dark Faerie Tales for the Supernatural Smackdown event, I won’t be posting Chapter One in its entirety on the site until the end of February, and the first three chapters will go live the day of the book’s release.
And, there’s a new interview with me up at Novels on the Run, so go check it out!
What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
Say my love is easy had,
Say I’m bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad –
Still behold me at your side.
Say I’m neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tounge –
Still you have my heart to wear.
But say my verses do not scan,
And I’ll get me another man!
Authors shouldn’t respond to reviews. That’s fine. Most of us don’t. We understand that reviews are for readers, not for writers. I don’t even like the “they can be helpful/constructive” because no, they really aren’t constructive, and they don’t help me, and more to the point, they don’t have to be. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a reader should have to remember a writer’s “feelings” when writing a review. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a reader shouldn’t say whatever they like about a book. It’s totally allowed.
But more to the point…who allows it? Nobody. There have been writers out there who’ve been shitty about “amateur” reviewers, and gone around huffing and puffing that they shouldn’t be listened to, or that no one should be allowed to write negative reviews ever, or whatever other self-entitled silliness. Funnily enough, last time I checked that didn’t actually stop anyone from blogging their opinion of a book, or from reading that blogged opinion and giving it whatever consequence the reader chose. Last time I checked, no gang of writers in a black windowless van started making the rounds of reviewers’ homes, grabbing them off the street and releasing them, naked, in a public park several miles away after telling them they won’t be writing any more reviews if they know what’s good for them, dig?
Last time I checked, a reader did not need a writer’s permission to read whatever they liked, and to say about it whatever they liked. So why the idea has come about that writers can or somehow are trying to “censor” readers, I don’t know. Where the idea came that the opinion of writers on that subject matters worth a fidder’s damn, I don’t know either.
Readers can say whatever they want.
I accept that. As I’ve said before, I knew that getting into this. I knew there were a lot of subjects I could no longer be myself on. Frankly, it’s a privilege to be in that position, and I’m grateful for it. Of course, I foolishly believed that standing up for readers every time the situation arose would mean people would remember that later; I foolishly believed that going out of my way for people, that being a good person, would mean something, but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, I totally understand, accept, and whole-heartedly approve of the idea of writers staying away from reader reviews, and keeping their mouths shut regarding opinions of them. Fine. Just as I don’t have any overwhelming need to review books on my blog, nor do I have an overwhelming need to blog about readers and their reviews. I mention them, yes, because as I’ve said before, when a reader shows appreciation for my work I like to repay that; they work hard on their reviews. I want to give them credit for that work and let them know how much I value it, and them. Some of them–most of them–are damn good writers, and it makes me proud to have such smart and awesome people recommend my work. I won’t stop doing that, either, because my readers are important to me.
But the only real thing I’ve ever said on the subject is that readers can say whatever they want. Then I said readers who review and wish to become writers–who review as part of their aspiring writer persona–might want to be aware that they could find some writers who aren’t really eager to do them favors if they’d been negatively reviewed in the past. Funnily enough, last time I checked a favor was just that: a favor, something people are under zero obligation to do for someone else, and can turn down for any arbitrary reason. “I don’t feel like getting my lazy ass off the couch” is an acceptable excuse to refuse a favor, frankly, so I’m not sure how this is different. Favors aren’t obligations.
And for a long time things have been pretty smooth. But now? Now I’m finding that not only is it not okay for me to respond to reviews publicly, not only is it not okay to respond to them privately, but I’m not even allowed to have feelings about them.
Sure enough, the “My books aren’t me and they’re totally separate from me and I’m so professional and detached that I don’t care what people say” crowd leaps in to prove how much more professional they are than those of us who admit negative reviews can be hurtful or sad or disappointing, as if they’re far better than us pussybaby freaks with an emotional attachment to our work. That their work isn’t them, and they are totally detached from it, as if it was something they spat into the sink, because they’re True Professionals.
Sorry, but no.
I fully accept that not everyone is going to love my books or even like them. I know that. I can take it. I knew going into this business that there would be people who don’t like it. I’m happy to stand back and not engage. I don’t let them have their say–it’s not up to me–but I’m glad they have it. More power to them. I have never once tried to quiet another person or keep them from expressing their opinion.
What I will not stand for is the idea that not only can I not reply, not only can I not reply privately, but it’s not even okay for me to feel something about a review. Even feeling privately hurt or upset or down is now wrong and unprofessional. And fuck that.
My books are not my babies. I have babies. I have books. They’re different. But you bet your ass my books are part of me. Every word on every page came from me. Every word on every page matters to me.
Now it’s not supposed to.
Or at least, it’s not supposed to if I write genre fiction. I’ve found a few articles/discussions about literary fiction writers who made the Mistake; funnily enough, no one writing those articles or commenting on them implied that it was wrong of the writer to even feel bad about the review. It was understood that their work was important to them, that they would care about the response it gets, that they would have opinions on those responses. No other literary fiction authors jumped in to say how ridiculous they were for wanting people to like their books, or for feeling kinda bad when they didn’t. It would never occur to most people that those writers aren’t supposed to be personally invested in their work. (For that matter, it would never occur to most people that anyone isn’t supposed to be personally invested in their work. I worked at a Dairy Queen once in high school; I made the best damn Strawberry Shortcakes and Peanutbuster Parfaits you ever saw. My Dairy Queen curl was always perfect. Why? Because I cared. Because I liked the satisfaction of knowing I’d put something of myself into my work, to give someone else the best possible experience.)
And I ask you to show me someone whose boss told them their work wasn’t good enough, wasn’t acceptable, who didn’t feel the slightest twinge of sadness or pain because of that. It’s expected that people will be a bit hurt. It’s expected that they react professionally; no screaming “Shut up, asshole!” It’s expected that they not take it hugely personally and freak out, or be inconsolable for months, or tell that person they’re obviously morons, but it’s expected that it might be a bit hurtful.
But it seems that over the last few years, and of course especially the last couple of weeks, there’s this attitude–sometimes spoken, sometimes implied–of “It’s not like your work is important. You only write genre fiction, you know. It’s not important, what you do. You only churn out a product. So shut up about your feelings.”
You know what? I think that’s utter bullshit. I think if you can detach from your books that completely, maybe you’re not really putting enough of yourself into that book.
My books are not a churned-out product. My books are not a fucking TPS report that’ll go in the shredder as soon as the boss gets a glance at the numbers. My books are not a paint-by-numbers picture of a unicorn that anyone can put together.
My books are mine. My books are me. I’m in there. I’m in every word and every page and every character. Megan? Me. Chess? Especially me. My past. My outlook. My dreams. My thoughts on the world and people in general. My books are what they are because I make them that way. They come from my conscious mind; they come from my subconscious. They speak to parts of me I’m familiar with and parts I don’t know exist.
In other words, my books are me stripped bare. My heart and soul is on every page of every book. They are part of me.
Why? Because I think I owe it to you. Because you as a reader want something, and I want to give it to you. You want a book that will make you think and feel; that is what I want to give you. And how the fuck can I expect to make you feel, really feel, if I’m not feeling when I write it? How can I expect you to have an emotional reaction to my work when for me it’s just another fucking day at the office, whatever, toss out some words and who cares what they are because as soon as the book is finished I’ll emotionally disavow it anyway?
My books are not written according to some formula. My books are not thrown together with a “That’s good enough for the likes of them” sort of casualness, for me to dust off my hands when they’re done. My blood, my sweat, my tears, my pain, my joy, my thoughts, my feelings, go into every goddamn page. My books matter to me. They are important to me.
Yes, my books are genre fiction. So what? Does that mean they can’t be meaningful? Does that mean I have to shrug them off when they’re done, like they’re just some widget I built on an assembly line? Does that mean I’m not trying to say something big with them, that they don’t have a theme that’s important to me, that they aren’t a plea for change or a light being shone on something negative or anything else?
Some writers think we all should be able to completely detach from the book and not care if people like it at all, have it not effect them emotionally in any way. Well, just as they obviously think something is wrong with me and I’m unprofessional for caring if people like my work, I frankly think their work can’t be that damn good or meaningful if they’re so easily able to wash their hands of it and not care about how people take it. When I pour my heart into something I don’t just walk away when it’s done. When I really connect to something and it really matters to me, I don’t just shrug it off when it’s finished and forget it ever mattered. And I think it’s bullshit that I should be expected to. Fuck that.
Yes, it’s just genre fiction. Yes, of course there will always be people who don’t connect with certain books or characters. We all know that; it’s a given, and it’s fine. But don’t you dare tell me that because I just write genre fiction I’m not allowed to care about my books, and the only professional way to write genre fiction is to view it as some sort of toenail clipping, something that came from me but to which I have no attachment whatsoever.
My work matters to me. My work is part of me. I put everything I have and everything I can into my work.
Quite frankly, if I don’t feel deeply when I’m writing it, if I don’t dig deep and push myself and expose everything I can…how the hell can I expect readers to feel something when they read it?
They deserve everything I can give them. And I deserve to not be ridiculed for caring about my work in the privacy of my own home. Because I will never stop caring about my work, and I will never stop trying to make it the best it can be.
An endnote. This will be my last post on writing/writerly topics. I’m tired of it and I’m done. It’s not worth it to me. Yes, I know the people who read and enjoy my books are smart enough to know what I’m actually saying and not what some alarmist claims I’m saying. Yes, I know those who read this and haven’t read my work but know what I’m actually saying are just the sorts of people who probably will like my work. But giving time and energy and feelings to shit like this takes away from what I should be giving time and energy and especially feelings to, and that is my books. (This isn’t just related to stuff on the blog; you AW members may have a good idea of some other things that have contributed to it.) So I’m making some changes here on the blog, and that’s one of them. I will probably be blogging more often, but shorter posts, and I will no longer be commenting on things happening in the online writing world. I don’t want to be part of it anymore; I haven’t wanted to for a long time, actually. I’m happy to let other people have their opinions on things and rarely feel the need to challenge them; the same courtesy is not usually extended to me, and the way to avoid it is simply to stop posting opinionated things, and that’s what I’m doing.
I will always be open for suggestions on topics, and I will always be happy to answer questions here on the blog; I’d like to do that regularly, actually, so I encourage you all to ask away.
What Stace had to say on Monday, January 17th, 2011
Yay! Go check it out!
As I said before, it’s on Spreadshirt. Spreadshirt had the lowest prices of the three places of this type I looked at (the other two being Zazzle and CafePress) and they seemed to have the biggest variety as well, or at least they had more things I thought would be good to have. But as far as both of those go–pricing and variety–I don’t have a huge amount of say in them, so I did the best I could.
I did a lot of the designs myself–and it was really fun! if time-consuming–and all of the designs from the old store did carry over. Unfortunately most of those designs were/are too small for Spreadshirt’s specifications, so until I get bigger files I can’t put them on a lot of stuff. I also don’t have copies of those with white print, so I can’t put them on anything dark or black. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to do that, though.
There are two designs done by the fantastic and wonderful Michelle Rowen. She sent me the “Team Lex” and “Heart Terrible” designs as a surprise, which was so freaking cool. (Also, she managed to use actual art in hers, which I am not able to do. Whether that’s due to my crappy fake Photoshop program or my dunce-ness at computers, I don’t know, but I can’t do it.)
There’s a nice big section for the urban fantasy genre in general, which I think is pretty fun. I might grab myself a few of those to wear to cons! See, we UF readers etc. are indeed out there, and we are part of the community. Plus I just find them, well, fun, like I said, and I hope you do too.
I plan to add more designs periodically; of course when the fourth book is released I hope to put up a couple related to it, and so on. And as I’ve said before, if any of you find yourselves in the mood to play around, by all means send me what you’ve got, if you want!
A lot happened in the writing community this weekend, but I think it’s all been covered in plenty of detail. I’m just going to say that people who behave as though everyone should worship and admire them just because they say so, tend to not be very pleasant when people don’t in fact worship and admire them, but instead ask them to actually prove they’re worthy of it. And no matter how politely the questions are worded, they still behave as though they’ve just been urinated upon or something, and proceed to attack. Very nastily. It’s not pleasant to be on the receiving end of one of those attacks.
And those who do that sort of attacking? They very rarely change, and stop behaving in that fashion. This makes them dangerous to deal with or work with; they don’t care who they drag down with them.
Also, on a halfway different subject, Michele Lee made this for me, isn’t it great? (If you don’t know what it refers to, read here, specifically this line:
But it seems as if the comments and the criticisms are not edifying. If your goal is to be a boo-bird. Good job.
I freely admit I find the phrase/epithet “Boo-bird” to be completely awesome. I plan to use it in a book one of these days. It’s too cute to avoid. A ridiculous thing for a grown, supposedly professional woman to say in a supposedly professional context, but charming nonetheless.
Anyway. Michele Lee made this for me:
Adorable, isn’t it?
I myself made this:
Yes, I am embarking on a new career. My darling friend Jane Smith over at How Publishing Really Works (and if you are a writer I cannot recommend her blog highly enough) is coming with me; she will be the Boo-bird CEO, and I will be VP, at Boo-birds Inc.
If you’d like to be part of Boo-bird Inc. too, just take a card! Put it on your site or blog, print it and keep it in your wallet, tattoo it on you, whatever you like.
So, to sum up:
*Lots of new t-shirts and stuff which I hope you’ll all like, at the new Downside Market!
*Chicks named Michelle (or variations thereof) have mad Photoshop skills.
*People who love themselves a little too much tend to keep doing so, and often use very bad judgement because they are convinced they’re right, and especially that they matter and everyone cares about them/what they think. (This is also true when, as is often but not always the case, they’re the sort of people who lie and “pad” their credentials so, for instance, checking over a quarterly employee newsletter for typos for an architecture firm becomes “being a journalist and editor in the architecture industry.”)
*I am a big old boo-bird.
What Stace had to say on Friday, November 19th, 2010
I’m supposed to blog about copyright today, because I promised my wonderful friend Jane from How Publishing Really Works that I would. Of course, I ended up oversleeping (even for me; hey, I was up writing until five this morning) and getting sidetracked by a million different things, so it’s perhaps too late now for my post to do any good, but here it is anyway.
(This reminds me; I don’t suppose any of you out there reading this happen to be car salesmen in South Florida? Anything like that? BFF Cori needs to buy a new car, and I’d love to be able to send her to someone trustworthy, by which I mean one of my readers since of course nobody rocks harder than my readers. So if you’re in a position to help, contact me through the site, and maybe you’ll get special signed books or Seekrit Inside Info or something too.)
So. Copyright. This is one of those topics that’s so big and so important I almost don’t even know where to start. The simple fact is, copyright is what enables me to do what I do. Copyright is the reason I’m sitting here with my laptop–my laptop that copyright bought (used, because it’s a Mac and they’re fricking expensive new, but still). Copyright is the reason there are Downside stories; it’s the reason they exist, the reason those characters and that world exist.
I’ve touched on the subject of piracy before, notably in my post about trusting readers and not treating them like shit. And honestly, I don’t know that I can really say it any differently or any more clearly than I did then; piracy is a financial bite, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Yes, I was lucky, and I got offers for more Downside books. I know quite a few people whose series aren’t continuing because of low sales, but funnily enough, free copies of their books have been downloaded thousands of times. It’s all well and good for huge bestsellers to be blase about piracy; the rest of us need every sale to keep our careers going, and it frankly makes me angry to see them being cavalier like that instead of thinking back to the beginnings of their careers, or thinking how much of a difference their voice could make to those who are struggling.
But this isn’t about piracy, either. I know what all of the excuses are, the “They wouldn’t have bought it anyway,” as if that makes it okay for them to steal, or the “it actually increases sales,” or whatever. I don’t care. Yes, that’s right. I don’t actually care. To me it’s very simple: those stories and characters belong to me. You’re using them without paying (or going through a legal channel like a library or borrowing from a friend or whatever). Therefore you are stealing from me. Period.
See, at its base, that’s what copyright is. Copyright is a way to mark ownership of something intangible. Ideas can’t be copyrighted, no, but a written story can be. A film can be. A drawing can be. Copyright enables artists to live off of their skills.
I can’t draw to save my life, seriously. It’s not a talent I have. I’m lucky if I manage to make my stick figures look human. Most people I know aren’t great artists. I think people who are deserve some sort of recognition for that; they deserve our appreciation, our recognition. Visual artists beautify our world, quite simply. Every time you see a logo, a design, a pattern; every painting or drawing, every piece of public sculpture, you are seeing something made possible by copyright, and you are seeing something that adds something special to our society, something that reflects who and what we are.
Seriously, think for a minute about a world with no visual art. All buildings are just plain flat squares. Billboards are just black words on white backgrounds, all in Times New Roman or something. There are no textiles in this world; there’s very little color. No attempt has been made to make anything look attractive or inviting.
Yeah, I know, I’m stretching the point. But still. Think about how depressing that world would be, and as you do, think about how much artists add to our lives every single day. Not a day goes by that art doesn’t enrich our lives and our world.
And all those people ask in return is credit for the work they do, for the efforts they make. Just like you expect credit for the work you do; and really, with some exceptions, is your work really any less ephemeral? I know lots of people who would kill to have your job; does that mean I can decide you should be willing to do it for free, and withhold payment from you?
But I believe this is a slippery slope. I believe copyright is something fundamental, that it is in large part what makes our society work, what makes our world work. Yes, there are flaws, of course; I would never even try to imply our society and/or world is perfect, or even that it works particularly well. But copyright is part of the good stuff; it’s one of the positive forces, one of the better elements.
Why? For all of the reasons above. Copyright gives artists time to create and hone their skills. I’m sorry, but contrary to popular belief not everyone can draw, not everyone can write, not everyone can sculpt. I might have the brains to be a surgeon if I applied myself and studied hard, but my hands are simply not steady enough and my vision is terrible. That vision keeps me from being a commercial pilot as well. My height keeps me from being a model or a professional basketball player (yeah, I know, it’s not just my height that keeps me from being a model, but let’s focus on the point, shall we?).
I believe that if we continue to allow our copyright laws to be stepped on, if we continue to act as if they don’t matter, and we continue to buy into this bullshit copyright-is-evil line that’s just an excuse to benefit from other peoples’ work without lifting a finger, we will eventually find there’s nothing left worth stealing. There would be no impetus to create it, frankly.
Because a world without copyright, a world which doesn’t enforce copyright, is a world which doesn’t value art, and doesn’t value artists. Far from commoditizing art, copyright protects art from becoming just a commodity. Copyright recognizes that art is special, that it deserves its own set of protections and rules; that because of the way it enriches our society and changes lives it should be and is separate from other things, and gets special treatment. Copyright recognizes that society has a special responsibility to protect its art, and that society in general benefits from it in immeasurable ways.
A world which doesn’t value art, which doesn’t value artists, which believes copyright is ridiculous, is a world where people are seen as soulless, where individuality doesn’t matter. These people claiming to be rogue rebels, bravely thumbing their noses at copyright laws because art should be for everyone, are in fact trying to stamp on art, devalue it; they are in fact refusing to accept that anyone has anything special inside them, something that’s theirs and their alone, and that there’s any value in expressing that. They’re insisting that everyone is exactly the same, basically, and that there’s no difference between a Renoir and my stick figures. It’s not democratization and it’s not sticking it to The Man. It’s claiming that there’s nothing special or unique or worthwhile in the human soul, it’s claiming that people are worth nothing, and only tangible items have real value.
You’re not being a rebel because you devalue ideas and the expression of them. You’re not being a rebel because you deny artists the chance to make a living. You’re certainly not being a rebel because your response to their need to make a living is to tell them to get a real job, which is exactly what you’re doing when you say things like “You should be willing to do it for free.” Wow, maybe next you’ll tell them to turn down that music and get a decent haircut, huh? You crazy maverick.
Do you honestly think it’s rebellious to treat only things you can hold or taste as if they’re worth anything? Do you honestly think you’re somehow smashing the state by refusing to support artistic expression, by acting as though you’re entitled to the sweat of others’ brows and the fruits of their labor without giving anything in exchange? Do you really believe you’re somehow scoring one for the little guy by devaluing humanity to the point where not only are the souls, thoughts, ideas, and expressions of others are worthless, but where there isn’t even any legal protection in place for those souls, thoughts, ideas, and expressions? Yes, wow, how very subversive of you, treating art as worthless and acting as if other people exist solely to entertain you.
If you want to pirate, go ahead. If you want to steal, go ahead. If you want to devalue art, act as if the world owes you whatever you want, treat other people like commodities, you go ahead.
But don’t fucking pretend it has anything to do with freedom or rebellion, because it doesn’t. It has to do with your own selfishness and sense of entitlement, and in that you’re no different from any of those corporate heads you claim to be so disgusted by. You’re not hurting them. You’re hurting people just like you, and you don’t care as long as you get to fiddle while Rome burns. Good for you.
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.