Amongst lawyers, doctors, teachers and others, the practice of professional courtesy is still astute. However, and sadly, in the world of writing, a small percentage of authors have forgotten that professional courtesy should extend to our craft, as well. It makes me sad.
In this new age of digital publishing and instant success of unknowns, abrasive jealous lashing is common place and not just by unknowns.
We are all well aware of Stephen Kings' slash of Stephanie Meyers, saying ‘She can’t write worth a darn.’ Really, Stephen? What is up with that? If you don’t like her work, say you don’t like her work. Zillion bestselling author or not, who are you to publicly say the woman can’t write? Millions of fans will argue that. What was the point? I’ll tell you, to me and like many others, it was jealousy. She was popular, eating up the charts at a time when he was not.
If that wasn’t the case, it sure looked like it.
Stephanie is not alone. Steve also jacked up James Patterson.
Famous authors dissing other authors at a height of popularity is not uncommon.
Here are some examples
Harold Bloom on J.K. Rowling (2000)
“How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”
William Faulkner on Ernest Hemingway
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac
“That’s not writing, that’s typing.”
Elizabeth Bishop on J.D. Salinger
“I HATED [Catcher in the Rye]. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?”
Mark Twain on Jane Austen (1898)
“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
(Funny, if you substitute Jane’s name with mine and her book with one of mine, this is very similar to a criticism I received from another author. One should hope we become as famous as these two)
Abusive and or angry critique of a fellow author is not prejudice only to those who have garnished success. Even the little guys get kicked as well.
Many hide behind anonymous posts on boards or reviews. Anyway it’s done, I think as authors, we need to stop and think before we do it. How is this going to benefit us? Is this going to come back and slap us in the face, either by a missed opportunity or a good old dose of Karma.
Before you say, ‘hey, I’m not just an author, but a reader, too, I can dislike a book,’ this is true. You can. I myself have disliked many books. But that’s my personal taste, if there is something so grave that needs attention, then I tell the author privately. I also mix it with praise on what I liked. I don’t take it to the public. Readers outnumber writers and they can handle the job of reviewing and slamming. In fact we write for them.
If you as an author don’t like being ‘smacked down’, don’t do it to someone else. If the book is that bad, readers will call it out. Find a way to tell the author the way you’d like to be told. I know, I know, I have heard it. “I’d rather hear the raw truth.” Good. But wouldn’t you’d rather hear in your email instead of seeing an author post it on facebook?
I firmly believe the readers aren’t sitting around cheering that disrespecting author. In fact, readers see right through it and it angers them. Especially if you jack up their favorite. Readers don’t read your negative opinion and say, “Oh wow, this writer is amazing, she knows how to spot trash.’ No. The readers gonna simply label you a jealous dick.
Stephanie Meyers CAN write worth a darn. She may not be this ultra descriptive writer who spends twenty pages on the inside of a person’s refrigerator but she weaves a good tale that has captivated millions.
Isn’t that what being a writer and storyteller is about? Telling a story that grips your audience. Not everyone is going to love it. In fact some will despise it. But leave the public broadcast of distaste to the readers.
When an author does that to another author, what are they trying to achieve? Stating you simply didn’t like the book, the characters weren’t for you, it seems implausible … that’s cool, but to go on a rant or say ‘he/she can’t write worth a darn’ is just wrong and in my opinion a violation of a the brotherhood on pens.
Aside from the fact you never know, that fellow author that you slam may be the next Stephen King. Also, as said before, Karma with writers is a horrible thing. Publicly say something shitty about another author’s work and before you know it, ten will do it to you. No kidding. Wait for it, it will happen.
If you absolutely feel you must speak your mind, then do it privately. As you know, we as writers get hit enough in the public eye. If you don’t know that or haven’t experienced it yet, oh, boy are you a newbie.
I am so grateful that the writers I have befriended are classy and would never do that to another author publicly. As my mom always said, tell me who your author friends are and I’ll tell you what kind of author you are. Ok, maybe she left out ‘author’. But that holds true.
If you wanna publicly lay the smack down, instead of the pages of Amazon reviews, take it to the WWE. That’s the only place I know that talking ‘Smack’ about each other is the norm, then again, not without some serious ass whooping.
Hmm, perhaps we need to pit King against Meyer in a smack down write off.
We are the entertainers of tomorrow and today. We craft worlds to take people away. We should have each others' backs instead of stabbing it.