Those who know me know that I hate conflict. It's not that I'm Little Miss Sunshine Pollyanna, it's just I don't like people yelling at me. Or each other. Or at anyone in the immediate vicinity. I just want everyone to play nice and get along. Is this terribly realistic? Um, no - but I can't help it. Everything you've ever read about what a "typical middle child" is, that's me. Honestly, it's really disturbing.
One of the biggest reasons I didn't wade into the Cassie Edwards plagiarism discussion (until now) was because it sent my middle child spidey senses tingling. I knew there was going to be conflict. I knew it was going to get ugly. So I grabbed my wubby, crawled off into a corner of the Bat Cave, and resisted the urge to start sucking my thumb.
But now that time is here. The time that I knew was inevitable. The time when some authors have waded into the fray, and started posting mind-boggling comments all over the Internet.
Please, why do you do this? For some of you, I don't really care. But for the others? I love your books. Could you please shut the hell up so I can keep on loving your books?
I'm reminded of a post I did back in October on separating the author from the book when it comes to reviewing. I may like the author as a person, but not enjoy their book(s). That's why I wish authors wouldn't take less-than-stellar reviews so personally. When reviewing is done right, it's not personal. It's about the book - not you. Yes, I know you slaved over the book. Yes, I know you worked hard on it. But just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean all readers are going to hate it. And it doesn't mean I dislike you as a person.
However, this separating the author from the book thing gets really hard when the Internet heats up with discussions like the Cassie Edwards plagiarism story. Part of me is glad so many authors are speaking out, and another part of me is sad that some resist the impulse to just not say anything. Think before you speak. If you're thinking of saying something that can be construed as professional suicide and condoning plagiarism - um, maybe it's best not to hit the submit button.
I know, a librarian promoting self-censorship? Scandalous, isn't it? Of course, I didn't flip off the driver who cut me off this morning and somehow I'm still able to live with myself (end dry sarcasm here). Two words to live by? Impulse control.
So where does that leave us, the readers? The readers who just want to pick up books, preferably non-plagiarized ones (oops, dry sarcasm again), and travel outside of our little world for a few hours of pleasurable reading? Suffering from Too Much Information Syndrome. So what to do?
Well, I think Karen Scott said it best on this comment thread at Dear Author (#3):
She's right. There are authors I've "given up" because of things they've stated publicly or their online behavior - but it was easy to do. I had read one book by them and found it ho-hum. Or I'd never read them before, so it was no skin off my nose. Doesn't mean I don't still buy their books for work, I just don't buy them with my own personal dollars. But authors who have written books I adore? Much harder. So even though a favorite author might say something that I cannot fathom, I don't necessarily give them up unless it's something truly unconscionable (for example, if an author said something like, "The Holocaust never happened."). Like Karen said, everyone has their line in the sand. It's up the individual reader to decide where their personal line is.
I also think that it depends on your previous ‘book-reading’ relationship with the author in question. If you love his/her work, then it’s easier to excuse him/her for their stupidity or ignorance. However, if you’re not familiar with any of their books, or have perhaps only read their one best-seller that was published ten million years ago, then their fucktardiness will only ensure that you avoid their works in the future.We are influenced everyday by stuff that we see, read, and hear, but we still have the ultimate choice when it comes to deciding whether to actually believe these things or not.
(Text in bold = Super Librarian's emphasis)
All that said...
Even though I might not give up an author who exhibits bad behavior, it does not mean I'm unaffected by that behavior. Because it's there, lying dormant in the back of my mind. It's there when I buy their book(s). It's there when I'm trying to read their book(s). And that's all I want to do. I want to read the book(s), not be distracted by the jackassery and lack of impulse control.
If I can take any comfort in any of this it's that I know I'm not alone. That readers all over the Internet, readers who have been following this story closely, are just as dismayed as I am. However, that is cold, cold comfort indeed. Pull up a chair, the tea party is breaking out the hard liquor next.