Let me say that again: don’t be a dick. Four simple words with an equally simple message, but it seems there are those in the writerly community having a really hard difficult time not being dicks – some on a truly epic scale.
I’ve followed for a while the debacle that is the Hugos. I say ‘a while’ because it didn’t take long to become bored and disenfranchised with the whole thing, especially once it devolved into the slinging of poo from both sides. To say the Hugos have been irreparably damaged is an understatement. The honour of having ‘Hugo winner’ or ‘Hugo nominated’ stamped on the cover of your book has been lost. That’s a real shame. Will the awards recover? Only time will tell. Time, and whether Vox Day continues with his toxicity.
It was the perfect example of how ‘don’t be a dick’ would have helped those on all sides of the Hugo debate. Once you devolve into vitriol to further a cause (valid or not), you lose not only any sense of decency, but there’s a real chance you lose your reputation, and for writers, reputation is everything. No matter how good a storyteller you may be, if you’re a dick, you’ll find there are publications and editors that will refuse to work with you.
If only the dick-ness had been limited to the Hugos, but *le sigh* it wasn’t. Another spat broke out between authors that had political leanings (shades of the Hugos) at its core, which then resulted in one of those involved ‘one-starring’ the other author’s books on Amazon. Apparently this author isn’t a five-year-old child. Other authors were dragged into the mess, and yet again, playground behavior and bullying was the order of the day. Now I’m not saying all involved were ‘dicks’, some of those dragged into this acted with decency, common sense and rose above, but it was enough to spread quickly through the writerly community and draw more sad sighs, eye-rolls and mutterings of ‘again?’ from those sucked pulled drawn into the vortex.
Just recently I became aware of an instance of ‘dick-ness’ that struck a little closer to home, and which raised my ire. A friend and fellow author (who I won’t name for privacy reasons) was at an anthology launch where their story was listed as the lead – a well-deserved honour; it’s a wonderful piece. However another author (well-known in the genre) took it upon themselves to tear into my friend, stating without compunction that they’d paid to have their work included, that the story was shite, as was the antho (apart from dick-author’s work, of course), and that they wouldn’t be promoting it because all of the above.
This tirade was unprovoked and left my friend shocked and disillusioned with their work. I was furious. Still am, hence this post. I’ve little doubt that jealousy and the dick-author’s insecurities led to the words, but that doesn’t make it any way right. Not by any means.
Writers are an insecure bunch, myself included. We’re our own worst critics, and even those of us with publications (big and small) under our belt still have those moments of despair. When author friends have their successes we’re absolutely rapt for them, but there’s also a little stab of jealousy involved with those successes – we wouldn’t be human if that wasn’t the case. But here’s where the ‘don’t be a dick’ comes in (damn, these double-entendres are killing me). It’s simple really. If you feel like being a dick – don’t. Take any negative feelings toward another writer and turn it into the drive to write more, write better. Chanel that energy into non-dickness.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that writers are a solitary folk, that most of our time is spent in created worlds, but there’s a real joy in connecting with like-minded beings, with those who understand the intricacies and quirks that make you a writer. You need these connections, and not just on a publishing platform, but for your sanity. And if the Hugos, Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies and all the other author-transgressions are anything to go by, that sanity and sense of community is slowly decaying.
We’re in this together, peeps. Writing is truly the best gig in the world; don’t turn it into a toxic playground by being a dick. Simple.