Tuesday, January 22, 2008

OK, Can You Please Shut Up Now?

Wendy is having a tea party, and you're all invited!

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):

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)
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.

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.

17 comments:

sybil said...

Yeah I figure that would make you sad.

Nikki said...

Well said Wendy. I feel the same way. Everyone makes their own choices. Can we all just get on with life?!

Nora Roberts said...

Can I come to your tea party?

Jennifer said...

Well said, Wendy. I have strong opinions on a great many things, but I like to torture my hubby and kids with those opinions and spare my readers :-)

Besides, I seriously thought it was obvious that plagiarism is wrong.

You know how I feel about readers talking about books--authors should leave them alone unless invited or able to contribute something useful to the conversation.

I want to come to your tea party too!

Jill D. said...

I am like you Wendy, I avoid conflict. I am more like an ostrich with my head in the sand, than a middle child though, (I am the oldest in my family). I know that by reading a post on a blog which another person (author) has written will influence my perception of that person. This is why I have not been following the comments of the Edwards/plagiarism extravaganza. As soon as a read something fucktardy, (for lack of a better word) it’s all over for me. My point of view will never be the same, and my future choices will have been definitely affected by it.

Off subject, but this is why I can’t enjoy a Tom Cruise movie. He had made some pretty horrible comments about Brooke Shields when she had announced that she was taking anti-depressants. He came across looking like an ASS! It will never be the same for me.

Wendy said...

Sybil: And here I was doing my best to be all cloak and dagger....

Nikki: I don't see this discussion dying down anytime soon. The fall out isn't completely over yet me thinks.

Nora: Hell yeah! Although I think you can afford better liquor than I can. Can you bring a couple of bottles with you?

Jennifer: That's what families are for! You can come to the tea party too. You can help me drink Nora's good liquor.

Jill: I don't think I have your blog on my feed reader! Everyone, go visit Jill - http://romancerookie.blogspot.com/

See, you know your line in the sand. That's good. And I'm the same way with Cruise now - although it was the whole couch jumping thing that pushed me right over the edge. I think that might have been before his jackass comments about postpartum depressing.....

Jill D. said...

Hey Wendy,

Thanks for the shout out! I have been lurking for quite some time and now I have finally decided to come out of the closet so to speak, or in my case the den, (since that is where my computer is located)!

Also, may I say, what a lucky dog you are to have Nora Roberts commenting on your blog, and wanting to come to your party. Gasp! I am so not worthy!

I thought I was the only person in America who saw Tom on the couch and wanted to gag.

sybil said...

Yeah... I suck like that...

::shrug:: uh sorry?

Still loveses me? :)

sybil said...

HEY! you read the next Templeton yet?

Wendy said...

Sybil: You don't need to apologize. I was making fun of myself for not being more stealth :) And yes, I still loveses you.

As for the Templeton: I downloaded it last weekend but haven't read it yet. I'm thinking it will be my next read....

vanessa jaye said...

How many times can I come over here, read a post, and say 'ditto'?

Plenty, apparently. ;)

(oh, and ditto Jennifer too).

ephramyfan said...

I'm the exact same way about conflict, but I'm an only child lol.

Nora Roberts said...

I'm the youngest of five. There's life without conflict?

Anyway, how about a few bottles of bubbly?

Wendy said...

Nora: Ha! Well I did say it wasn't a terribly realistic view. And aren't all 4 of your siblings brothers? It's amazing you survived to tell the tale.

Oh yes, bubbly! Jennifer's definitely going to have to help me drink it though. I love champagne, but if I drink too much of it (which I've been known to do) it doesn't love me. Let me tell you, that was a hard lesson learn.....

Cheryl St.John said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts, Wendy. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, and that's well and good. But not everyone needs to know said opinion, especially if it's inflamatory or insulting.

And Tom Cruise? Odd, but I can watch his old movies (Jerry McGuire days) and think he's a genius, but I can't stand to see a newer one and won't EVAH pay to watch one again. And he just keeps digging the hole.

Woop, was that my opinion showing?

Wendy said...

Cheryl: It's a shame too, since there are several Cruise movies I've really enjoyed - Jerry Maguire being a personal favorite, as is The Last Samurai (although this one is bloody - so consider that a warning!). I mean, who knew it was going to get more bizarre after the couch jumping? Heck, I didn't think it was possible. How wrong I was....

Jennifer said...

Okay, Wendy, if you really need my help drinking the bubbly, I will do it. Never let it be said I didn't help out a friend in need!

Tom Cruise--ummm, okay, some people deserve public criticism when they act like monkeys in public. That's all I'm gonna say...

And if JD Robb comes along with Nora to the tea party, and I'm drinking champagne, please, please, please don't let me embarrass myself with my Big Fat Roarke Crush.