If You Can’t Say Anything Nice


Teasing a Sleeping Girl

Originally uploaded by Maulleigh

Having written some 4000 words on Killing Time—a book that I can’t stand, less because I hate it, but because it has so many of my pet peeves—I’m suddenly questioning my reasons for posting it online.

Not that it isn’t practically tradition online to do so. There are several websites dedicated to nothing more than poking fun at badly written, plotted, and conceptualized stories. Sometimes published works like the Twilight ‘saga’, the two series of Laura K. Hamilton, and even the later Harry Potter books. Sometimes, and more often, the focus is on awful fan fiction or other online stories.

Killing Time wasn’t meant to be published, but it was published, so I think I’m covered. It’s started to seem kind of mean though. Which I don’t like to be, I think it’s a bad habit.

While I’ve thought before while reading some sporks that they go too far, I allow myself to be seduced by the amusingness. In some cases. For example, I generally don’t read the websites making fun of fan fictions. They aren’t as funny, to me, so I can’t claim a virtue here, but they are also generally working with avereragely bad fics. As opposed to those, say, Rose Potter. Which are well-known in sporking circles for their exceedingly awful badness and creepiness. So fandom itself will sort out the worst of the worst, and those are funny sporks.

Anyway, I think I might continue with my various reports on Killing Time, but only likely if I can continue to post more short essays about the tropes that I dislike rather than an actual spork. Although maybe later I’ll find time to do so, if on a more appropriate medium.

But this whole thought process came about because Laurell K. Hamilton recently made a blog post. Another author wrote a response. A link was posted on amazon.com and discussion continued for several pages. Naturally, this ended up on FandomWank. Well, I don’t really remember the wank report, but I was, intrigued, let’s say, buy the other author’s response.

Now I’ve never heard of Jennifer Armintrout, the other author, but I thought her blog post rather well-reasoned. As did the person who posted it on amazon, unless they intended to cause a kerfluffle (which is entirely possible). However, the thread really got going when someone, called R. Harinandansingh (R.H. and given the masculine pronoun, because the shes are confusing already), objected to Armintrout’s calling out L.K.H. Because it’s ‘unprofessional’. When I first got to his comments, I immediately dismissed them. First they were inflammatory, and secondly ridiculous. In what way does being a published author take away your right to critique? How does being any kind of career-artist (as he seemed to imply) mean you can’t have an opinion on others in your field?

Then I started feeling uncomfortable about having dismissed R. H. so readily. It’s not like the original post was an attack on Armintrout. As another poster brought up, yes, there is a long history of author’s taking pot shots at each other—see Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”, and Twain is vicious, though witty—but it’s never been nice.

Of course, Armintrout never claimed to be nice. And though L.K.H. may not have directly addressed any specific author’s in the post, she was talking about the craft of writing. And as another author, and especially a published one, she has a right to respond to a post that essentially demeans authors who don’t write the same way L.K.H. does. Also, when it’s online, it’s public. As far as I’m concerned, when it’s published (and a blog is a form of publication), it is, by definition, published. Now, if L.K.H. had written this in a protected, private journal, online or otherwise, I might take more issue with the propriety of responding like that. But she made her opinions public.

I just don’t see why the response by Armintrout, however emotional, is less than professional. R.H. makes a point of saying that only artists can’t critique each other (or he seems to) and that lawyers and doctors should because their professions actually make a difference. (Or so I recall, it’s been a few days since I read the thread.) However, I very much enjoyed the beginning of Armintrout’s first (only?) response on the amazon thread, defending her original post:

1. I did not write the blog because I have a problem with LKH’s writing. I have adored all the books I’ve read from her…My blog was not a criticism of her as a writer.

3. I didn’t write the blog out of professional jealousy or “cattiness”. I would love to have the word “catty” removed from any discussion of female authors from now on. When Nicholas Sparks routinely slams the romance genre, no one calls him “catty”. They call him “outspoken” and “opinionated”. “Catty” is a word we use to describe women who aren’t acting like sugar, spice, and everything nice, and it’s bs.

I wrote the blog because I don’t like it when people who are feeling insecure for whatever reason decide that the only way to bring themselves up is to attack others. LKH has a lot to be proud about, and other authors do not threaten the success she’s made for herself. You may find my blog unprofessional. That’s fine. I’m really, really unprofessional. I approach my career as one approaches their first year of college: too much partying and running of the mouth and not enough work. But I get really p.o.ed at the idea that LKH gets a free pass to sling passive-aggressive attacks at every other author who puts a pair of fangs in their books in order to make herself feel smarter, more successful, more like an innovator, or whatever she was trying to accomplish.

Can I say, firstly, that I love number 3 wholeheartedly? Spot on, and also, Nicholas Sparks strikes me as an obnoxious idiot. And, actually, fits the definition of “catty” to a T. So perhaps it just needs to be a cross-gender insult. But it isn’t and so should be given up.

And the only way any profession keeps itself going is by discussion. Authors don’t write in a vacuum either. Perhaps all the cutesy niceness has done nothing for the quality of writing produced. Perhaps a good challenge once in a while might do some people some good.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

  1. I completely agree that talking bad about the PERSON is wrong, but anyone has the right to talk crap about a book if it is crap. That Anita Blake series, from what I’ve heard, gets worse as it goes on. I like the idea of something like that but I’d never be able to read it after a certain point.

    And you’re not alone with the Nicholas Sparks thing. For a guy that writes romance, which is synonymous for love story, he sure likes to go one about it. He is a better writer than she who wrote that awful crap which is none as the ‘ The Time Travelers Wife’ (I suffered through the book because I hate putting down something without giving it a chance, then I suffered through the movie on a plane because I looked the theatrical poster). But the only book of his I liked was A Walk to Remember. I feel asleep reading the Notebook and haven’t gotten back to it since.

    I don’t think it’s right to critique an author, unless they are like Stephanie Meyer. She actually bad talked another writer, the one who wrote Wicked Lovely(which is far better, and more original that Twilight). For one who can’t stand critique on her own books, Meyer is sure a hypocrite. I however would love someone to tear my writing to shreds, it means I getting read to say the least.

    • Exactly. Why not talk about what the text says, what the author writes, and what the author says in interviews, because that is what they are sharing with the world. Even in everyday life you don’t get away with saying stupid things when someone hears you. Of course, you can’t go read all their private letters and such until they’ve been dead for years, but what they say to the public is perfectly worthy of discussion. Even snarky discussion 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s