My grandpa died last night, so if this post is especially bitchy, I apologize. But the subject at hand has been on my mind for months, I'm tired of being sad, I need a distraction from funeral arrangements, and I'm long overdue to blog.
To start: as a feminist, double standards drive me crazy. And never have I noticed a bigger one than on reader blogs. I'll explain below.
First, I've noticed there are three thing that drive readers/bloggers crazy about author blogs:
1) when the author will not hear criticism about any of her writing
2) when the author's army of sycophants are quick to shout down anything but fawning praise for the author
3) when the author will not change her mind, no matter how asinine her post, and won't apologize, no matter how bad her behavior.
Reader bloggers hate those three things the way people hate plague, or famine, or Republicans. (Okay, some of them. The most rabid, certainly. I don't like to stick everybody under the same umbrella, but for the purpose of this blog, I'm talking about RRBs...Rabid Reader Bloggers. And not all the authors are female, but it seems most of them are, at least in the romance field, thus my use of the "she" pronoun.)
And the irony? At virtually every RRB site, you'll find evidence of at least two of the big three, and usually all three. I have the distinction of being on Karen Scott's "List of Authors Behaving Badly"...twice. I actually don't mind...it's pretty funny...and Karen's pretty intelligent. Actually, I suspect she's smarter than me...she's certainly better read, and knows more about what's going on in the world. But she's got a blind spot. She has no idea that everything she despises about Authors Behaving Badly is in existance at her blog, interestingly titled "It's My Blog And I'll Say What I Want To!" Still, she's amusing and always tells the truth (rare and wonderful in modern times), and I admit I visit her blog at least once a week. She irritates me at times, but I admire her (or maybe I admire her because she irritates me). I post now and again, and usually get my ass kicked. That's because I break RRB rules, pretty much all the time.
RRB rule #1: Blog visitors must kiss the bloggee's ass.
RRB rule #2: Blog visitors must, while puckering, agree with everything the blogger posted, at risk of the blogger siccing her unholy army of toadies on the author.
RRB rule #3: If blog visitor won't pucker, won't change her mind, and won't knuckle under, she's a bitch, a cunt, full of herself, or a schoolyard bully (I'm not making this up: I've been called these , and more, in the last 6 weeks.)
A perfect example: PC Grant had a legitimate complaint, which Karen posted on her blog, which started a long and interesting discussion. Which, as these things tend to do, went far afield of the original topic. And at one point, a visitor to the blog said something along the lines of, "MJD must think readers are effen' stupid for not getting this." A flame war I carefully stayed out of...one I never posted at...and the readers assumed I was posting. So, tongue in cheek, I pointed out that anybody who got PC mixed up with MJD probably *was* "effen' stupid" (I mean, how hard is it to read a sig line?) That was my first appearance on Karen's Authors Behaving Badly list. You know, for defending myself. But what the readers focused on? "MJD Says All Readers Are Stupid!" As far as an apology for being accused of something I didn't do? I didn't hold my breath, and thank goodness.
I'm not especially popular at Smart Bitches, either, but the difference is, they keep a sense of humor about the whole thing. If they think someone's being a pud, they'll call them on it, but in a charming and often hilarious way. It's actually a mark of honor to get snarked by a Smart Bitch. It's more of an eye-roll "here we are on this ride again" to be nailed at Karen's. It wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't know Karen was so ferociously intelligent...I'm amazed she can't see through her blind spot. On the other hand, who can? If we could, they wouldn't be blind spots. Apparently my blind spot is that I think I'm funny, but in reality I'm the biggest jerk on the planet. (Can't I be both? Well, nuts.)
Which brings me to Indida, a young woman who, for reasons unbeknownst to me, went crazy last month and published this charming diatribe:
"Too Much Lip"
"I go to Karen S's blog on a regular basis and check out what's going on in the writing world. Love you, Karen.
"Yes, I read romance novels.
"Anyway, so I go there for interesting news, her crazy but true reviews, her take on anything she wishes to blog about, and so on. One of the new features are the juicy debates (nasty catfights) that go on between authors and readers. At first, this stuff was a shock, I mean how often do you get to hear an author spout off about anything. Most of the time you just hear news about upcoming books and great reviews. I got to actually see them in a different way. After my shock wore off, it became hilarious. I would constantly read these provoking comments and discussions because of the ridiculous, anger consumed statements. I mean these bitches get down right evil after a while.
"Now, I am irritated. Some of these authors are just ungrateful, whiny, snobby, malicious, jealous, conniving bitches. It leaves me wishing I never got to know them in this way or even read one of their books. Their attitudes have almost ruined my interest in the genre, let alone them. They constantly bash and berate their own readers. They find the tiniest, irrelevant excuse and run with it. They actually disregard their readers opinions and try to beat them to a pulp for voicing them in the first place. I'm sorry but I thought the most important opinion is the reader's, consumer's, patron's. Isn't that why they are getting paid to do it, so we will hopefully judge them worthy enough to spend our money on? Take the word patron, or even patronize. You look it up and it means to support, give money to, etc. It also means to look down upon, to be condescending towards, to act in a superior manner. These bitches have crossed the line and got it twisted somewhere in their wannabe prima donna heads. They have somehow snuck into our role because some of us have bowed to them in worship of their work, the pour ignorant souls. It is not wrong to love your favorite authors but they are not gods. They provide a service to us, service, servant, to serve.
"Do I need to break it down further? We are the patrons, we are superior, we judge them, our opinions are gold to them and they need to remember that the next time they try to bash one of us. They are to worship us for our patronage, the fact that we even bother to glance at the title of one of their books, that we even go further to shell out hard-earned money for something that may be a piece of shit. They forget that we can make them poor, bitter bitches in the blink of an eye. I want them to shut their poisonous, annoying traps and do what I pay them to do, write! I don't want to hear about their petty complaints and grievances. The only problems that they truly have is with their publishers and agents, not the readers. But they are too scared to confront the suits so they turn on the easier prey, in their misguided minds, the readers and lash out at them.
"It's not my problem your publisher is taking too big of a cut from your sales and is distributing your books to tons of people for free, causing you to scrutinize every sale of your book anywhere on earth. That's not my fucking problem, nor is it my fault. And, I don't want to know about it. That your fault for signing a contract with them and you need to handle it. All I need to know is when the next book is coming out. If you can't tell me that, then shut your mouth.
"Don't even get me started on this big wave of griping about bad reviews. Poor baby, my ass! would love to be in the place of a dog sled driver with these bitches as the team, my whip held high and ready. Instead of mush, I would scream WRITE! WRITE BITCHES, WRITE! Using my whip to lash some sense into their ungrateful hides.If they kept their focus on writing and not on griping, we would all fair much better in the end. To the readers, don't let these bitches get out of their place. We spend good money on them everyday. They should go back to thanking us instead of dumping their irrelevant trash in our laps.
"To the authors, you have every right to be angry, frustrated, annoyed, depressed, whatever when it comes to your problems and situations. You can address important issues that have to do with the readers if it is warranted. But do not forget who the fuck you are talking to."
Who IS this angry child with a god complex? And when did she start skipping her meds? She certainly has a right to her opinion, garbled, incoherent, and grammatically nauseating as it is. But what is she talking about? Scrutinizing every sale on earth? Write, bitches, write? (I corrected her grammar on that one; couldn't help it.) Don't forget who the fuck we're talking to? Be worshipful? Excuse me...WORSHIPFUL?
Remember: the current flame war is WRITERS behaving badly. Try to imagine the shitstorm if I ever dared post, "Don't forget who the fuck you're talking to." If I told readers to worship me. If I threatened to lash them with a whip for being ungrateful. I can't even imagine feeling such petty emotions, never mind posting it for the world to see.
The worst part wasn't even her silly rant. It was her army of sycophants all chiming in with "LOL!" and "You're my hero!" and "Laughing my ass off!" I was all, uh, what? She's getting praise for an online tantrum? For calling herself superior? (For what, I can't imagine.) For calling all authors ungrateful, malicious, jealous? (Um, projecting much? Other than bitching about people she's never met, does she have any sort of fulfilling career, or family life?)
So, after reading the dozens of accolades, I couldn't resist, and chimed in with, "This is...do I have this right? This is about AUTHORS behaving badly? Oh, my! It is, as they say, to laugh. And so I will. Ha. Ha. HA."
To which this under-medicated infant replied: "This is...do I have this right? This is MJD on my blog? Oh, my! It is, as they say, to call it like it is. And so I will. Bitch. Bitch. BITCH! You might as well stop writing, because I have stopped reading."
Okay, overreact much? (My own fault: I should have figured out that little character flaw from her first slobbering rant.) But not only did she call me a bitch (her blog, her privelege, but she gets zero points for originality), but she then made it the topic of her next blog, posted a link to it, and made sure the world knew what she had done. To wit: "I have done a terrible but hilarious thing. Those who see it will know it immediately. It was in the heat of the damn moment and I was so annoyed. For those who don't know me, I do get caught up in mess once in a while. It is hella funny though. I can't help but crack up everytime I think about it or go back and read it. It was well deserved. The nerve of one of the queen bitches showing up. Ha. Ha. HA. My ass! She should have taken notes and gotten together with the others and had a study session. But you can't expect that from a person with their head tucked so high up their ass, it's back in place."
I'm not sure what's funnier: that she has severe emotional problems, or that she was proud of herself for acting like an idiot on the world wide web. She probably sprained her elbow patting herself on the back. And the army of toadies patted right along with her. Remember rule #2? Indida might as well have been talking about herself when she wrote, "They have somehow snuck into our role because some of us have bowed to them in worship of their work, the pour ignorant souls. It is not wrong to love your favorite authors but they are not gods."
My first post had been tongue-in-cheek but, after being personally attacked, I rolled up my sleeves and posted thusly:
"Stop writing? Oh my dear, not even if you stuck a gun in my ear. Which, given the frequency and venom of your cyber-tantrums, wouldn't surprise me. Anyone who works herself into a slavering rage so easily probably has felony assault on her to-do list. And speaking of slavering, darling, do be careful. You foam, you froth, you spew so quickly that I fear for your health; when you get up from the computer, careful you don't slip on the drool and brain yourself on the corner of your desk. You might addle your teeny tiny head and then where would we be? How could the world go on without your vim, your vigor, your charisma? Your well reasoned arguments, your clever use of prose? Oh, wait. That's me. Never mind, dear! Foam away.
"As someone mildly concerned for your health (your blood pressure must be on the moon! do have your local G.P. give it a check; I fear you might stroke out if we queen bitches don't burst into flames at your command) I tried to quell the giggles as I read your tantrum du jour. Especially since the sight of an author being incapable of taking you seriously apparently goads you to rages of (mmmph!) killing heights. Or, at least, to so much slavering you're probably knee deep in foam. Your recent posts (titter!) taken with the description line under All About Me ("I like to make people happy.") make for (hee!) entertaining reading, to say the least. And I'm sure you'll feel much better, hon, if you adjust your meds just a little. Or start them. I hope you'll keep popping out in order to reach your fascinating Miss America-like goal to "make people happy" but, as above, be careful, and don't slip. Foam away, darling! And don't mind me. I'm the Queen Bitch over here in the corner, the one saying "Ha. Ha. HA." while she reads her bank statement."
I don't know why I bothered. Since my post was basically unanswerable, she and the AoS (Army of Sycophants) focused on: money. Specifically, how gross I was to bring it up. (Even though I hadn't brought it up first; she did.) Yeah, that's the point I was trying to make, how rich I am. Not how gauche her behavior was. Oh, and I got called a bitch again. And a cunt.
It's true, though, I have brought up money before. And I agree, it's gauche. It's almost like protesting too much, you know? But you know what's worse? Using money as a club over someone's head to threaten their livelihood, e.g. "Watch out, MJD, we made you and we can break you." or "I'm never buying one of your books again, MJD, you're such a bitch." or "MJD, you're so mean I'm telling all my friends not to buy your books." and "MJD's book are books I will NEVER buy. See how she likes it back in the trailer park." (These are all direct quotes, by the way.) Yes, I've brought up money...always after a reader brings it up. Because I don't kiss ass, and I'm not impressed by petty threats. But don't expect me to crawl into a corner while you call me names and act, in general, like a crack-addled grizzly bear.
Remember: the current flame bitchery is about authors behaving badly. I've never called a reader a cunt in my life, in case anyone's keeping track.
There was one beacon of hope on the young woman's site, to wit, "Why is it that MJD is called names, and then isn't allowed to defend herself?" She was, of course, shouted down. But I appreciated the effort, and thought it was a darned good question besides.
And just in case regular visitors to the young woman's site didn't know how "clever" she had been to "put MJD in her place", Karen also blogged about it, and posted a link, and talked about how funny it was that I had been called a bitch, a cunt, and various other unsavory things. Because I didn't kiss ass. Because I defended myself. And because I signed my name to my post. (We'll talk about my pet peeve, Anonymous posters, another time.)
The general consensus at Indida's blog is that I'm a schoolyard bully. Most likely, I imagine, because I don't use Preperation H for lip gloss. What shocks me is how shocked RRBs are when writers don't bend over for the ass reaming. If the shoe was on the other foot, I certainly wouldn't expect Karen or Indida to scuttle quietly into a corner. But the double standard, she is alive and well. I'm an author, and so am held to a different standard of behavior. Indida can call me every name in the book and get praise. I can defend myself and get called a twat, cunt, and a bully. (It's a nice trick, actually, and I'm impressed she pulled it off.)
Poor me, right? Poor baby. Everybody's picking on me. Well, hardly. I'm not a victim; this is a mess of my own making. I was provoked--tremendously--but nobody shoved a gun in my ear and made me post. I certainly could have kept my mouth shut, but it's not in my nature. Nor is it in Karen's, or Indida's. But I'm the cunt. It's a funny world sometimes, isn't it?