I have been thinking all week about the blog post that Kendall Grey made which had so many people drawing their pen-swords in protest. But how to respond? A few people posted the link on facebook, and I was so tempted to comment… but too afraid to do it.
See, I learned a lesson a long time ago, and I learned it the hard way. I was a naive art school student, and I had as an advisor a professor who was really shitty. She gave me bad advice, and I wasted a semester because of it. Now, looking back, that seems like almost a gift, but back then? I was pissed. So I wrote a letter. A kind of snarky, but honest, letter to the dean, wherein I complained about my shitty advisor. Of course, this ended badly for me. I had to face this professor again, and again, and again, and the whole time she held that letter against me. Turned out she was sort of the lead professor in my program. I paid for that bitchy letter plenty.
So now, I am reluctant to say anything, even in a facebook comment, which might ever be construed as a personal or professional attack. But I kept seeing the Kendall Grey thing and I kept thinking about it. Over the weekend I did not think about it, because I was in a tipsy-Pina-Colada-induced-bliss, but then today, I saw a blog post by Madeline Sheehan (that someone shared on facebook) and I thought some more.
So here’s my two cents…
On one hand, I feel a sort of sympathy with Kendall Grey. She made the same mistake I did. She was honest, although bitchy, and made the critical error of posting her thoughts on the internet, where everyone could see them, and where they will now live forever. And she was punished for it, harshly. On the other hand, I am a struggling new author of the type of books she calls ‘trash’, and I am so fucking grateful for every single sale I make, so I can’t help but be offended by her post.
I think what this is really about is a simple truth: No matter how bad off you think you are, there is always someone who would give anything to be in your position. And maybe I could add to that there is also probably someone who likes you just the way you are. I would love to have even a portion of the success she’s had with her ‘trash’, and I’m sure a lot of people thought her ‘trashy’ book (and her writing) was pretty awesome. So I think this is less about being an author, and more about being a human. We are all guilty of this, on some level.
I know I do it, as well. I complain about my too-small house, my too-big mortgage, my too-messy and too-needy kids, my too-clueless husband. And I know, I know, there are plenty of people out there who have no house, who dream of qualifying for a mortgage, who have sick kids or no kids at all, who have no partner to love them. The things we say can be hurtful, even if we don’t intend them to be. Sometimes, reading through facebook status updates is painful…
“Ugh! My MacBook keeps freezing!”…. I wish I could afford a macbook.
“That book/movie/song was such a piece of shit!”… hey, I liked that book/movie/song!
“I got another five star review!”… good for you, I hate you. no- I mean really, good for you.
“I’m looking at a huge royalty check!” … great, fuck you. no- I mean really, fuck you.
So I say to Kendall Grey (and the people who are bashing her) I understand… but try to be nice – it works out way better in the long run.