I have never, ever ever, ever, said that I “hated” a book.
That doesn’t mean that I’ve never read books that I didn’t like! In all of the millions and zillions of books, traditionally-published and self-published, floating around out there, it is statistically impossible for me to read them all, let alone like them all. Quite a few, in fact, just aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t enjoy historical novels, for example. Or most biographies. Classical books–a majority–I tend to find tediously drawn-out. And I have read the occasional book (or series of books) where it seemed like the major themes were picked out of a hat, the sex scenes were kind of ridiculous, and some editor decided to let the use of the word “erogenous” slide seven times in one chapter.
(And don’t get me started on editors. That will be a different post for another time.)
SO, I don’t want anyone getting the impression that I have liked every piece of literature I’ve ever picked up, because that is very, very far from the truth.
What do I mean, then, when I say reserve your hate for bigger and better things?
It makes me sad when I see authors and writers bashing other authors or books. I wrote a post a while back about dealing with haters–but wouldn’t it be preferable to simply have no haters at all? Of course it would. And that can start, of course, by thinking about your own reactions to other writers and their works. I was thinking about this because #50Tips was trending on Twitter recently. Of course it was a play on 50 Shades of Grey, with things like “Have your main character bite her lip as many times as possible. #50Tips” And, personally, I found that a little bit offensive.
Our society, at present, has made mockery the highest form of humor. A person doesn’t need to be witty, clever, or even really smart, to be considered amusing–it’s all in how much you can make fun of or humiliate someone else or their work. And isn’t that sad? What an environment for budding artists! When everything you do can be disseminated to the entire world with a few strokes of the keyboard, it can be hard, scary, or downright terrifying, to even THINK of putting out a piece of yourself for inspection. Writing a novel? Painting a picture? Never has it been so easy for one small slip to become the next big meme.
So why do we contribute to it? Why do we find people mocking the attempts of others so hilarious? Because, thank God, it isn’t us being made fun of? Sure, that makes sense. Nobody wants to be the butt of the joke. However, at the end of the day, you’ll remember the way you laughed and jeered at the creative endeavors of someone else. It will haunt you as you work, as you throw your own blood, sweat and tears into a novel.
And maybe you’ll never finish, because the idea of getting scorned on such a global scale will, understandably, scare you shitless.
So I guess I’m just calling for tolerance. For compassion. For some empathy. Because you will read books that aren’t up your alley. Someone might get a six-figure publishing deal, and you look at them, look at their work, and wonder quite honestly why. Your first instinct might be to post some scathing review, some snarky comment, something to make yourself feel better about the fact that you haven’t made it yet. Try to repress that impulse. Put down their book and let it go. Chalk it up to something that wasn’t your favorite, and move onto the next book.
Because fortune favors the bold, not the jealous.
And because that could be you, if you’re lucky. If all the stars align and fall into place. That could be your labor of love up on a pedestal, exposed to the judgements of every kid with a twitter, every blogger and so-called reviewer. And, whether you think so or not, you will come to desperately appreciate a bit of that compassion, that forethought, when it’s YOU on the receiving end.
We’re all writers here. And we’re all just people, first and foremost.