Friday, December 9, 2011

Planting The Seed

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post. It wasn't anything controversial, I didn't talk about how I thought kitten stomping was a good idea, and yet, somehow, a fight ensued over it. The details of the fight don't really matter. What is pertinent is why I got my back up. I am not an overly sensitive person. I get called names and mocked daily, most of it self-deprecation. After all, I'm a firm believer in not taking one's self too seriously. I mean, what's the fun in walking around thinking you're faultless and infallible? Boring is what I say to that.

Regardless, I posted the blog (my last one about the book I finished co-writing) and shared it on my Facebook. The co-author of said book excitedly passed it along to her followers and the first comment she got was from another writerly type. To say the comment was condescending and disparaging would be like saying zombies like to eat people.

Now, instead of replying hotly, I decided to ask what he meant by it. You know, because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. (Okay, you can stop laughing now.)

Well, the belittling just kept coming!

The impression received, not only by me, but by others, was that he felt we were incapable of writing Science Fiction. That we didn't have the knowledge to pull it off accurately. And, to sum up the whole battle, that we were out of our element in even considering to write a book in this genre. It didn't seem to matter to him that this was a YA book and the sci-fi aspects all took place on Earth. Actually, he didn't even bother to ask. By the way, he hadn't actually read any of our novel.

But that's all off topic and the fighting over me taking his comments out of context or blowing them out of proportion is moot because he later admitted to thinking we "didn't have the necessary grounding in science to pull off a science fiction novel". Yep, that's a direct quote.

Let me clear something up: I don't give a crap what people say about me. I really don't. I've been called ugly, fat, told my ideas are derivative, laughed at, poked, prodded and outright harassed for years. It comes with the territory--the territory of being awesome. Just kidding. The territory of being on the Internet and accessible to countless people from all walks of life who have an abundance of time on their hands in which they can either adore or attack me.

What I do care about is what people say to others. The reason for this is fairly simple: words hurt. They do. They say sticks and stones break bones but names will never hurt and that's an outright lie. We all know it, but we sing the mantra so that our children aren't as affected by schoolyard bullies when they head off to the playground and get called a freak. In reality, words can do more damage than a slap across the face, just ask every girl who has ever been called fat. Some things just stick with you.

People don't think. That's not news. I'm not breaking ground on some new theory. It's simply fact of life that people like to voice their opinions and often don't consider how other people will take what they say. Or maybe they just don't care. The ever-growing popularity of the Internet is only making this worse. At least in person when you say something you can see the person's physical reaction. If someone flinches, blinks rapidly, flushes red or furrows their brow, it's a clear indicator that they aren't happy with something you said. On the Internet, we aren't afforded the luxury of seeing how people react to what we tell them, so we say things we might not normally let slip. But that isn't a good enough excuse. Not in my books.

I'm not saying I don't have negative opinions about people's work. Of course I do. Sometimes it's a matter of taste and other times I simply don't think someone can write, draw or sing. The difference is, I don't go out of my way to say this to them. I might discuss it with a friend, but I don't post it on their excited status update or tweet it for all their friends to see. And the reason for this is common sense, but I'm going to spell it out for the masses, or the few people who will take the time to read this.

We, the creative types that we are, need to support one another because this is a hard business and a cruel world. We need all the support, motivation, encouragement and cookies we can get. The negativity that seems to be in abundance is pointless, not to mention damaging. Lately, I've been looking at the world from a different light and I see where we have gone wrong. Instead of offering up a kind word and excitement, we often put forth skepticism, cynicism and sarcasm. While all of those things certainly have a place in this macabre world we live, it doesn't belong in our reactions to other peoples creative endeavours, especially our so-called friends. I mean, if we can't be supportive and understanding with the people we care about then how are we supposed to give it to others? And how can we expect it in return?

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all went forth with love, hope and optimism in our hearts?

Our daily encounters would leave us light, happy and renew the passion we have for living, learning and creating. Maybe we wouldn't feel so weighted down. Maybe we wouldn't feel so alone. The world is a massive place, but we have these virtual communities that connect us and give us something we should be thankful for, except some of us don't use it in a healthy way. Instead of giving guidance and providing a shoulder to lean on, they tear people down and shake their head at their efforts.

All this does is plant the seed of doubt. And doubt is a terrible thing.

It's fear and uncertainty. Doubt derails us from the paths we are on. It rocks our self-confidence. It destroys our faith. It makes us question the things we hold dear and forces us to look at things differently, and not necessarily in the right fashion. Doubt is evil. It leaves us feeling empty and lost, broken and battered. It staunches our dreams. It cultivates unhappiness.

Which makes me wonder, why would we want to plant that in someone else? Why would we want to sow that seed? Why would we want people to doubt what they love? To doubt something they get joy from? To doubt themselves and who they are?

Words are a powerful thing. As a writer, I know that all too well. Which is why it baffled, and irked, me so much to see another writer toss his words around without a care in the world. It's unnecessary to try and bring someone down. To give them unwanted advice. To kick their excitement to death. To put them in their place or judge them.

The truth is, people aren't going to plant doubt in me. I won't be derailed from my path, but what if this guy says the same thing to someone else? Someone not as stubborn or determined as me. It might stop them from creating and being artistic. It might prevent them from taking the leap and trying something new. And that's why I got my back up. That's why we should all get our back up when we see things like this.

We need creative people. We need artists, writers, bloggers, vloggers, musicians, painters, photographers and dancers to keep doing what they are doing. It adds beauty to this world. A world so focused on everything people are doing wrong that we don't see what they are doing right. Together we should work towards eradicating doubt because it's toxic and there simply is no use for it.

Like my mother always said, think before you speak.

And like I have started to say recently, drop the negativity.

It isn't doing us any good anyways.


Mr Ellis said...

If nothing else, it made for an entertaining read, and confirmed what I have long felt about the person concerned.

Dan Holloway said...

fuck, yeah, Tee. I've written about doubt and the cruelty of words so many times and it can never be repeated enough (can I put a link to the piece I wrote for the triple-awesome For Books' Sake it's easy to say mean things on the web. And it will get the speaker kudos. and retweets. An audience, and a sense of being The Big I Am. And it's doubly easy because the chances are they'll never see the consequences. Most people don't fight back (oh boy do they *not* like that - how soon they try to claim you're a troll just because you dare to call a dick a dick). Most bullies don't even notice that someone who used to be around and talking happily to their friends has gone silent, because they've moved on. Doesn't make them any less of a dick, and kudos squared to the people with the guts to keep calling them out.

Exmoorjane said...

I hear you. Is why I stopped reviewing books really. But I also struggle with it.
I've never minded receiving harsh crit - about my writing, about myself...whatever... And I do think that if everyone goes 'yeah, that's fabulous darling!' one will never get much better. We need honesty. But slating someone without even reading is...odd and, yes, unkind. But, don't you think that kind of unkindness comes from a place of inner lack of self-worth? It's the old bully argument - coming from place of insecurity. No comfort for the one who's on the receiving end of course. :(
And, also, the brighter the light, the closer the darkness clings. You burn bright, Tee, damn bright. :)

Tyson said...

Crit is one thing, but disregarding or looking down in someone without due cause or reasoning is a bit off. That said, I'm always honest with reviews I give because that's different. And I only do that for people who ask for it. Also, I always read it FIRST and try to be constructive. Some writers and artists are sensitive and just starting out. I'd hate to throw them off before they even have a real chance to spread their wings.

M.M. Bennetts said...

Obviously I wish to stand up and applaud loud and long whilst shouting, "Brava! Brava!"

On the other hand, I actually have a better idea. How about you and me get together for some milk and cookies? Or tea and cakey if you prefer...

Jasmine Walt said...

I had something similar happen to me last week-- I was taking writing requests and someone asked me to write something I felt uncomfortable with. I decided to have a go of it anyway just to see what I could do, and even though I knew it was crap I let him see it anyway, which was the biggest mistake I've ever made.

To put it in a nutshell, the person basically told me that if I can't write about anything then I'll never make it as a writer, and because I chose to disagree with him he's been hell-bent on trying to smear my name since. People can be so awful. I can't understand why anyone would put so much time and effort into trying to put others down. :(

Tyson said...

@Bennetts tea and cake sound lovely. I may be on that side of the pond later this year. And we shall have a date. Xxx

@jasmine people don't think and people think they know all. It is most frustrating. And I think of the people who could take it to heart and it devestates me. No wonder writers are usually such solitary creatures.