Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Room for Everyone

There's something going around. It's been happening everywhere for a long time. But now it's bleeding into my writing community and I'm fed up.

But let's go back.

I work with kids. Yes, dance, but also I volunteer other places too. But whether I'm teaching jazz squares, how to make friendship bracelets, or tutoring math there's something bigger I hope I'm passing on to the kids. Two things actually.

1. Lighting someone else's candle doesn't make yours dimmer. It just makes the room twice as bright.
2. You're not working to be better than someone else, you're working to be the best version of you.

The number one place you can see the opposite of both of those principles is Facebook. (Or possibly Washington, D.C.) On my FB wall at any given time there's someone's beliefs and thoughts. Now, don't misunderstand. I support free thought, your opinions, even, especially if they disagree with mine. Maybe I can learn something, maybe I can see a different side. But what I cannot abide is complete stupidity, racism or prejudice. I can't stand it when someone feels to prove their point they need to make someone else looks wrong or stupid by belittling them. Or place blame where it doesn't belong. (I'm not just talking political things here, it's a wide net)

In the past, this has been contained mostly to FB. I click off there and on to my beloved Twitter. My writer family, my people, my soul mates. But lately, I've noticed a few things. 

Writers are posting their bad reviews and attacking the person leaving them.

Just no.

They make excuses for why that person is awful and how they could have left that review? One, this is beyond unprofessional and two, maybe they just didn't like your book. Obviously there are mean-spirited trolls who will leave a bad review just because, but if someone leaves an honest review and it's not favorable, try to remember - you signed up for this. Not everyone is going to like your book. Not everyone is going to like you. And yes, someone who maybe isn't as talented as you got a better deal because of timing, the stars aligning, or maybe the penguin told the agent to like them best.

I kind of understand. Writing is personal and when someone says something about your book baby you want to defend it but the bottom line - it's never okay to tear someone else down to negate their credibility.

But this next thing, I just can't understand.

Several up-and-coming writers on Twitter are bashing other up-and-comers, a kind of behind-the-scenes sabotage. I do not understand. Maybe it's because I would never dream in a million years of doing this. Maybe I just don't have that kind of energy. Maybe I'm more self-assured or have a better support system.

Whatever it is, it needs to stop. When you engage on Twitter, you will get support. People RT you and buy your book and do reviews for you. When you get pissed because they aren't all five star reviews or unfollow someone because they didn't say you were the best thing ever, you are the unprofessional one.

There is no reason that every single book that comes out this year can't be a best seller. If the story is there, people will buy it. So when you degrade someone who worked just as hard as you, it doesn't give you more sales in some weird competition you've made up in your mind, it actually guarantees you have one less - mine. Maybe my sale doesn't mean much to you. Maybe you only bash the other because you're intimidated by their work. Maybe it has nothing to do the other person and it's because you're just that insecure on the inside. (And horribly selfish to not see what you're doing to that other writer.)

But you're only hurting your sales, your brand and in the end, yourself.

Example: How many times have you liked a writer and their books then found out via social media they were awful in real life. Did you stop buying their books? Did you tell your friends not to buy them either? 

We have to stop bashing each other and dragging others down to climb up and over them to the top like some kind of crazy Yertle the Turtle. He ended up face down in the mud. (And was based on there's that.)

We should lift each other up. Support one another. Be happy for another person's success. We can all succeed here, there's room. I've found that everytime I help someone on their writing journey, it seems to forward my own. A lot of my friends and co-horts have agents, editors, book deals, and actual books. Do I sometimes feel like the last girl standing at prom? Heck yeah, I do. But I would never think to egg the prom queen. She'd be upset. I'd be the jerk. And both our fancy dresses would have been for nothing.

Plus we'd have sore feet from being at the dance all night and we probably had to wait for a table and only got two bites of food before the dance anyway and maybe she really hated being on the stage and then I made it worse and she didn't know until that minute that being prom queen even mattered...


Sorry. Where was I ?

Oh yeah. Love not hate.

My point is the things I tell my students apply to adults and writing and life. Someone else's success in no way makes you less successful. Supporting someone makes you someone people want on their team and they will be more willing to be on yours. Dragging down someone else to make yourself feel better is never okay. Ever. Ever ever.

Take all that energy you are burning bashing others and put it in your work. You'll have your own success to celebrate before you know it.
                                                                   So remember---

                                                       Be like this for each other's success:

                                                                          Not this:

Then we can all be like this: 


  1. Yes, YES. A million times yes. One of my most popular blog posts is this one called, "fan their flame"
    And it's all about how we BUILDING SOMEONE UP DOES NOT TEAR YOU DOWN.

    I've been saddened lately by what seems to be a small handful of people who are all too happy to take the support and love and RTs and signal boosts but are NOT paying that back. And it makes me wonder why.

    You get as much as you GIVE in this writing communities, and as much as it might seem like it sometimes, we're NOT competition... not really...

    Basically, a million *slow claps* to this, and a raise of my glass.

    Well said.

  2. So well said, Angi!

    I've been really fortunate thus far. Pretty much everyone within my personal writers circle is LOVELY. Supportive, kind, encouraging. I feel like I have my own private cheer squad, and I delight when I get to return the favor. I love telling people how awesome they are, because we're human beings and our vision is skewed and sometimes we just don't get that. Sometimes, we need to be told, and bossy little miss that I am, I like to do the telling.

    So when I hear about writers who aren't like that. Who actually try to tear each other down . . . it totally floors me. Not only because it's outside the realm of my personal experience (so far), but because I don't understand it. Maybe they've never tried being kind. Maybe they're in a super dark place and to them, it makes a twisted kind of sense. I don't know. But it is ALL ABOUT THE LOVE.

    Writing is hard. You've got to make yourself vulnerable in crazy deep ways. And if it weren't for writers like you, sharing messages of hope and encouragement, we'd all huddle in on ourselves and hide. Love breeds courage and confidence. Every time.

  3. I'm new on the writing scene, and I appreciate your message. I have never been able to understand meanies. One of the things I have loved so far on Twitter is the love and support writers are giving each other. Hang in there, focus on the love, and don't encourage the haters by striking back.

  4. Nicely put! I hope more people read this and try to live up to these words.

  5. This petrifies me! I'm a newbie in the writing community and I'm learning everyday from my fellow writers. I know there are trolls out there and I accept that in any online platform, but to see our own writer buddies doing this to each other is just sad. Great honest post. Let's just hope that this is a phase that will soon pass.

  6. Sing it, sister. I think we're in one of the few industries where competition isn't an issue. Quite the opposite. If someone loves a book, they're more likely to run out looking for similar writers. One success can benefit many other authors. How many people sold books in the wake of the success of the Twilight series or 50 Shades?

    And the energy it takes to tear someone down--just the thought of it makes me tired. I barely have time to get done what I need to do every day. Can't imagine adding bashing to the to-do list.
    Great post!

  7. Completely agree! :D
    Also, awesome gifs! :D

    I refuse to bash someone. If I read a book and don't like it, I don't bash them. Hell, half the time I don't even leave a rating. Maybe I should, but I'm also lazy and hate writing comments. :D

    Yes, there is irony in that I'm leaving a comment here.