So while I was in the edit cave on Stormdancer 2 last week, there was a great deal of sound and fury over on Goodreads. If you didn’t get caught up in the spectacle, you’re probably better off for it. Short version: a negative review was posted (which happens all the time and should be no big deal), an agent-mate of the author in question (not the author herself, who handled it all with aplomb) stepped up to defend the work, the whole thing turned ugly, literary agents deleted their GR accounts and folks who enjoy drama (and honestly, we all love it a bit) got their quota for the day.
Veronica Roth wrote a very thoughtful and well-considered post about the feelings/circumstances behind this incident (and the many like it) over at YA Highway. I’ve no doubt that the author in question probably went into that reviewer’s space with good intentions (to defend his friend) and had no idea what a shitstorm he’d create. The real pity is some lovely people who I have all the time in the world for inadvertently got caught in the blastwave, although thankfully, they seem to have avoided the fallout.
Essentially, I think it comes down to this: We create spaces in the online universes. They exist in the public realm, but they’re ours. Everyone is better off when that property line is respected.
This blog is mine, to do with as I see fit: a little online house which I’ve built. I tend the garden, I paint the walls. It’s my place, but you can see through the windows, should you choose to look. And therein lies the rub: no-one is forcing you to look at all. You can ignore everything I do and say with relative ease, whether it be on Goodreads or Facebook or the other, far-more-hideously nerdy online places I hang out.
If I choose to wander around inside my house with no pants on, necking green ginger wine from a brown paper bag, so be it. You don’t have to like it. But again, you don’t have to watch it, either. Regardless, it’s probably not the best policy to come into my house (or Goodreads page, or Facebook or whatever) and tell me I’m doing it wrong. If you don’t like what I’m doing – that’s totally cool. Not everyone wants to see me with no pants on, I understand that. But the solution to this problem (as opposed to the hellish flame-war that would result from criticizing my conduct in my own pad) is really, really simple: Don’t look into my house. Walk the fuck away.
Even if you don’t like it. Even if you think what I’m doing is stupid. The best possible case scenario is that yes, what I’m doing IS stupid. But you still look like a bit of a jerk telling me off about it, since I’m doing it in my own frackin’ house. Worse case scenario? Witnesses to our inevitable flaming collision think I’m perfectly entitled to be wandering around my house with no pants on, and you come off like some kind of radiation-spawned, Tokyo-devouring Douchezilla for chastising me about it. Leave me to my pantslessness. Ultimately, in the grand scheme of things, it really means nothing at all. If I’m out of line, people can and will judge that for themselves. Put the keyboard down and walk the fuck away.
There are no victories in the excrement-fouled halls of internet ‘debate’. Everyone winds up wearing shit – it’s simply a matter of degrees . Or, to put it in pictorial form: