Sorry my blog was late today. Mr. Henderson had a quickie surgery yesterday and is now medicated and woozy and he’ll be just fine. Also, the ice storm here in NY threw my schedule off because the school’s were delayed, and I was busy transitioning to a new computer and having Thai food with a friend.
Interesting news continues but it looks like I’m going to have to wait another week to spill.
Sorry no pictures today!
Okay, guys, you really surprised me this week. I’ve gotten to know your beautiful hearts and the bruised spots and your fiesty sides. But the places you went with the Question of the Week . . . wow. And to think I almost changed that question at the last minute because I thought it would be too hard to answer and would leave too many people out.
NASTY REVIEWS . . . .
Many of you published stories or displayed your artwork only to be attacked with nasty reviews. Simon Haynes, Robin Slick, Ronlyn Domingue, mattilda, amy, Anneliese, Shelley Marlow, teresa, and Kevin Noel Olson have taken heat for writing about immoral characters and characters making bad choices or implausable choices, and characters doing things readers wouldn’t do. And quite often, reviewers confuse the author with the characters they write about.
Aimee stirred up some right-wing reactions from this McSweeney’s interview. Bernita discovered that something as simple as a character’s choice of swear words can spark a controversy. And others found you can get a mailbox full of hate mail for your feelings about Mexican food (Mark Bastable), Kentucky (Jim), law enforcement and big media (n.l. belardes).
Who are all of these haters and these anonymous Amazon reviewers? If it’s any of you who read LitPark, please quit it, already.
Of course, the hate mail that hurts most comes from those we know. kimberly, Tish Cohen, and Juliet have found out the hard way what happens when friends or family recognize themselves (or believe they recognize themselves) in our stories and are not happy with how they’re portrayed. As painful as this is, it seems to hurt more to put a muzzle on our truths and the ways we need to tell our stories. This is probably the most inevitable cross we bear, eh? Bare? (See! All of you who complain about my no-edit button – I can’t spell either!)
ISN’T CONTROVERSY A GOOD THING?
Many of you reminded us that controversy is a sign that you’ve stirred emotions, that you’ve challenged ways of thinking, that you’ve shown something that people have not let themselves see. This is all in the tradition of good literature. kimberly says, “controversy is at the heart and soul of drama (aka human existence) and how placid and dull the world would be without it, eh? It feels a little tougher when it’s controversial on this small, intimate level…” dennis mahagin reminds us that the best kind of controversy is not self-serving or generated from publicity stunts but comes from the hard truths of the text.
A number of you mentioned going with indie publishing houses because they’re less likely to tone down what you want to say or how you want to say it. Paul A. Toth had this to say on the subject:
While I can certainly understand being misunderstood (nothing is more debasing than getting a bad review from Publishers Weekly, then noticing that just below it lies a glowing review of a freaking Star Wars novelization), I have to agree the lit world could use some controversy. By that, I don’t mean the veracity of memoirs or accusations of plagiarism.
To me, the biggest controversy in publishing ought to be why no one can figure out how to sell novels in this country, rather than screenplays disguised as novels. Hint: It isn’t the sole strategy of readings to which travel is paid for by”¦the author. Until that problem is solved, even negative controversies are probably the best promotion we can expect.
LEGAL TROUBLES . . . .
Think hate mail is where our troubles end? Some of you have found writing can get you into a legal mess: Bruce Hoppe received a subpoena to reveal his sources in a newspaper article, Greg was threatened with lawsuits for printing things about people they didn’t want others to know, and Richard got himself into hot water with the Florida State Senate and a university president simply by sending out a survey on love.
Lise Winne started an interesting topic in the controversy Question of the Week comment thread, so if you want to share your thoughts on the government subpoenaing (boy, that word looks wrong) jounalists to cough up their confidential sources and notes, feel free to keep that conversation going.
NOT SHOCKING ENOUGH? BECAUSE WE’RE ASHAMED ABOUT THAT, TOO.
Sometimes the shock is simply in how your head and heart are perceived when you toss them out there to the public. My wondertwin Lance Reynald has the same issue I was going to mention – what I think is normal, heartwarming or funny is often perceived in the opposite. And Aurelio finds he’s more likely to get called “weird” than controversial. Others for whom controversy is merely a Prince song: mikel k poet, Gail Siegel, Noria, Terry.
I’m going to end with Ric Marion‘s story. He found himself in a pair of Garrison Keillor shoes – a progressive and die hard liberal writing a folksy column that appeals to conservatives. When he realized that his conservative readers assumed he shared their views, he was dying to write just one column to express his beliefs. Ric says the best advice he ever got was when his editor refused his request, saying, “Let them think what they want – and if they call you, try to persuade them to your side.”
Okay, thanks to all of you for your stories and for being patient with me today. And thank you to Lauren Baratz-Logsted, who is not only a wonderful and so-prolific-we’re-all-green author, but she’s also fun and bold and big-hearted, and she kicked off one terrific discussion!
Okay, I need to run to the post office real quick to send something on to Warner Brothers. (Woops. Did I just let something slip?)