I’ve been reading the comments sections of posts. Perhaps a bit too much:
The black cloud of negativity, who says things like:
“George R.R. Martin is the most overrated writer in the history of fantasy/sci-fi. His books read like a contract and substitute shock value for originality and talented story telling.”
“You want fluff, read a Dragonlance novel or that shite Gabaldon series.”
And I won’t even go into the comments on the #AskELJames fiasco on Twitter.
For the most part, those in many professions don’t get critiqued by total strangers online. Artists have become, for some unfathomable reason, the target for a kind of criticism that goes beyond taste. It isn’t enough these days to say a particular work isn’t the type you enjoy. It must be slammed into the ground, the artist portrayed as stupid, untalented, etc.
“I don’t like it” isn’t acceptable anymore. The very fact of dislike now impugns not only that work but everything an artist does and even who they are.
I wonder if those who do this have ever considered that wiping out the confidence and the desire of those who make art may leave them without anyone to criticize at all. How many artists give up under the weight of uninformed and untrue insults their work receives? And how many careers are damaged by the platforms so easily available to those whose only talent is to criticize?
I am reminded of an old adage: those who can, do. The twist these days comes in the second part of the saying: those who can’t, criticize.
I’ve thought a lot about the word “normal” lately. As I survey the chaos that is my life these days, I wonder if such a label has eluded me all my life or only since I became unbound from the constraints of children to raise and a husband to please. Wondering has convinced me I have always slipped the bounds of normal.
Take my senior trip for instance. The “normal” girls in my high school headed to the beach in Florida to lay in the sun, look at the boys and think about doing more than looking. My friends and I turned up our noses at such conformity, packed ourselves into a VW bus with my friends’ mom at the wheel and headed off on a road trip. We walked the Natchez Trace, peeked into the windows of Elvis’ birthplace (on a back street in Tupelo) and wandered Shiloh battlefield. Bet you can’t tell what subject interested us most. That’s right, boys.
Our trip came to a dead halt when we stopped at some friends of my friends in western Kentucky. There were boys there, of the kind to make a young girl stop and stay a while. We did more than look. We walked under the moonlight and a few kisses were exchanged. Still my idea of romance after all these years. And far better than normal.
There are days I feel I should probably be locked up in a padded room for doing this whole writer thing. Most of the time I can cover it, but sometimes the voices in my head can be a bit demanding. Then there is the occasional diva among them that makes me wonder if I should keep her as my heroine’s best friend or kill her off in a particularly gruesome manner.
The fact that I sometimes find myself standing in the grocery line contemplating murder and mayhem makes me feel a bit disconnected from the “real” world. And that to me is the bottom line of being a writer – choosing to step out of reality and into a primordial realm just waiting for you to be its creator. It takes a certain amount of concentration (and a good talent for BS) to remember to smile and nod at appropriate times when your mind is off figuring out how the third planet in the Adeanan system is going to survive the assault by the High Council and just how much sex is enough to keep the tension high between your hero and heroine. It also takes forgiving friends and a really understanding boss to continue keeping one foot in each realm. And you thought being a writer would be so easy.