So... Holy crap! The writing world is up in arms!
You remember when I wrote THIS blog post about a certain author who stalked the woman who catfished her? Apparently it's a much bigger scandal than I realised.
Now dubbed Authorgate (must every scandal now end in 'gate'? Really? Can we not be more inventive than that?), it's a big deal. And, you know, after some reflection, it ought to be.
There are two ways to read this story.
- An author was catfished and caught the person responsible.
- An author stalked a woman who reviewed her badly.
Now, there is no doubt that the reviewer in question was engaging in some deliberate trolling, but what the author did was really not appropriate. At all. In fact, I mentioned in the blog post that her article made me feel uncomfortable, as I knew that what she did was very wrong, but that I totally empathised with her. I saw a lot of myself reflected in that author and it made me squirm a little bit.
It seems that the world aware of this story has been split into two camps, and they're butting heads. The two armies at war are the author's supporters, and her detractors. Those who support the author in question note that the reviewer was most definitely catfishing/trolling and that should not be supported in any way, shape or form. The opposing side notes that the author stalked a woman over her obsession with a bad review and that should not be supported in any way, shape or form.
There are also the 'on the fencers' or those who won't take sides in this perceived battle. They say things like 'They were both wrong.'
I'm afraid I'm going to anger a lot of people when I say that I agree that they were both wrong. However, the more I think on the issue, and however much I empathise with the author (and I do. The reviewer's behaviour extends far and beyond merely a simple bad review and strays wildly into career-threatening cyber-bullying), I find no justification for her behaviour at all. The author is not the hero in this story. No one is.
The reviewer, who has a history of being extremely vitriolic (even leading the charge of an online harassment campaign against a fourteen-year-old reviewer who happened to disagree with her review) went about trying to drive someone crazy and she was called out on it. No doubt she was feeling secure knowing that the balance of power was surely in her favour; if the author ever called her out on it, she would be piled upon by the online community who have made it their mission to keep author's behaviour in check.
As an aside, these check and balances are a good thing, for the most part. There have been many authors who have responded very poorly to ordinary reviews that weren't stellar. I have read many a public hissy fit - and when I say hissy fit, I mean more than just expressing dismay about a review - or stories about authors attacking their reviewers over the internet with a shake of my head. On the flip side, many of these people are abusing their powers, targeting authors for no other reason than them expressing dismay at a poor review or even authors calling for an amicable solution to disputes caused by bad online behaviour from both sides of any given dispute.
On the other side, there is the obsessive author, who literally stalked a woman. I'm going to say this again, she stalked someone. That is simply unacceptable behaviour. It doesn't matter if the person being stalked is considered a horrible online troll. Stalking is unacceptable.
Favour, authors, if you feel you are being harassed, you make meticulous notes and you turn the evidence you have to the authorities. Chances are, the authorities won't be able to help you (even if threats against your person have been made, as we can see by the clusterfuck that is Gamergate), but at least you'll know you have done everything you can. What you don't do is go all vigilante on the catfisher's arse. You are not the Green Arrow.
No one has failed any cities.
So, to me, both were in the wrong. The reviewer wasn't wrong to write a bad review of a book, she was wrong in all the other horrible stuff she was doing to said author (and to others). The author was so, so, so wrong in trying to tackle the issue on her own and stalking someone.
And further, for the record, absolutely nothing justifies being stalked. Yes, what the reviewer did was wrong (not the actual review, but the other stuff), but the author did not respond appropriately.
Stalking is not okay.
To that end, there is a protest going on with book bloggers called the blogger blackout. As a protest against the actions of the stalking author, they've decided to suspend all book blogging activities (including blog tours) for a week or so. THIS blog stated that the blackout was to end on the 27th of October, but from what I've managed to tell after finding out about it yesterday is that the blackout is more of a rolling blackout than a complete blackness of the bloggersphere. And you know, they're right to do so.
But for the record, I do feel that an author cannot defend themselves against cyber-bullies without bearing the brunt of a wildly inappropriate and vicious backlash. Cyber-bullies know this, and use the fact to make an author's life an absolute misery. What recourse is there for an author who cannot even blog about being bullied without it threatening their career (I'm almost afraid to hit publish on this post, for example, because I didn't defend the reviewer)?
Just something to chew on.
But that's enough of that. There is a battle being fought on another front. It's NaNoWriMo versus ... people who are against NaNoWriMo for some reason. I already provided a rebuttal against one such twit in yesterday's post. There is another writer who despises NaNoWriMo with a passion. Her article (which can be found HERE) was already wonderfully rebutted HERE.
Look guys, I know that you think your position is some sacred thing, but it's not. Anybody can writer, and they should! If they have the discipline to sit down every day and tap out a thousand words, then who are you to try and stop them? Further, if they want to try and get those words published, what business is that of yours? Is the title of writer so sacred that you would take to the information super highway brandishing picket signs to try and stop the dilution of what it means to be a writer? I mean, really. This is ridiculous.
NaNoWriMo is a harmless event that encourages people to prove something to themselves. That is all. All this anti-NaNoWriMo crap is far more irritating than all the things surrounding NaNoWriMo will ever be. If writing makes people happy, let them write - even if you find them to be posers, even if them expressing something about the craft (it's a lonely vocation, for example) that you have known for a long, long time makes you roll your eyes.
Let them write.
I happen to think it is brilliant. It might, for example, make the average person appreciate just how difficult a profession writing is and, perhaps, they might feel much more empathy for the career writer and less inclined to think that writers, in don't know, shouldn't get paid for their hard work.
Yes, every month is NaNoWriMo for serious writers. I did NaNoWriMo two years in a row, before I gave up on it as I write like the dickens every month (usually. Human is an interesting aberration on an otherwise unblemished record) and the event actually ended up being a distraction from my various works in progress. But goodness, people writing a whack of words one month of the year has absolutely no effect on the writing that I do, nor does it affect your writing, I'll wager. All this whinging these anti-WriMoers are doing feels like they just need something to rail against to make themselves feel superior to the rest of the writing masses; that they are trying to make themselves feel more special by telling everyone else that they're not special.
That's annoying. Can I boycott that?
Oi, you lot, up there in your ivory towers. Time to come down. Now.
So, by all means, 'serious' writers, avoid November and treat those people who participate in NaNoWriMo as if they're a scourge upon the earth. I'll be over in the corner waving my pompoms in support of those who take the annual plunge into frustration, loneliness and despair.... after I get my own daily word count down. This book won't write itself.
You can do it WriMoers!