I learned a valuable lesson this holiday weekend. I had been urging an organization and a well-known writer to get behind a project I have planned, and originally felt confused when they said they couldn't get behind it. I mean, I have noble intentions; I have a record of good deeds. Why aren't I good enough?
And once again the answer is it's not about you. When you've been emotionally abused, bullied, or scarred, you tend to carry a mirror around so you can blame yourself for everything. It's a nasty habit that keeps cropping up, and you must fight it without absolving yourself of responsibility when you do mess up. (A good book that will help you tell the difference is The Confidence Course: Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment by Walter Anderson.)
But enough about me. This weekend two people did things that made me have to disassociate myself from them. One personally attacked me over declining a promotion opportunity for the charity anthology. I said if she wanted to organize this particular event herself, she had my blessing, and I even informed three other local writers to join her. Instead, my choice was declared a "lack of commitment to the cause." A cause mind you, that I have performed the brunt of the work on, and the writer in question hasn't even promoted the book on her Facebook page, so her opinion means little to me. I spent my holiday weekend fending off her personal attacks, and found she emailed the rest of the writers, souring what has been a wonderful project for two great causes.
Secondly, a friend I recommended a book to, a book that had great personal meaning to me, trashed that book publicly and promoted his review in an effort to drive traffic to his blog through controversy.
Everyone is entitled to their informed opinion, but if this writer despised the book so thoroughly, I was truly puzzled by his reaction. The review mocked the book, and I took a day to cool off before responding. I prefer to save my anger for my writing. I wrote a long post deflecting his petty criticisms and called him out for "stirring up shit" over a 20 year old book that helped define the private eye genre at the time. Is it dated? Perhaps some details are, but the core remains true and strong. I am not going to rewrite my comment, or name the reviewer or the book. Needless to say my comment, and all comments from the defenders of the book were deleted, but his review remains. I find that cowardly and disingenuous.
I have deleted exactly one comment from this blog that was not spam, and it was a personal attack full of profanity and personal details. If you care to read the comments from IMDb trolls I've LEFT up, look for my old post complaining about movie remakes. But really, who cares?
I have to live with my association with two people who've disappointed me. Their temporary failings do not besmirch or erase their talents, but make me wary of their motives. And I understand why writers with established reputations, and organizations who depend on their reps to fight for their cause are loathe to put their name on projects they have little control over.
I've dropped hints that a bigger second volume of the charity anthology is in development, and it remains so. I have a list of writers who will be contacted on both sides of the Atlantic, once a professional contract is written. I'm not letting these lessons stop me from aiming high and making writing about something more than seeing my work in print. They are lessons learned, and I will be more careful who I associate my name with in the future.
After all, a name like Pluck isn't easily forgotten. I don't want to be known as the sheep-shagger, as the old joke goes, but as the bridge-builder...
© 2011 Thomas Pluck
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
disclaimers of legal bull shitte
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