Saturday, June 8, 2013

Speaking up

I woke up today, psyched that it was a Saturday -- free time, which means writing. Loosing into words those ideas that have been building up inside my head all week.

But I can't. My head's reeling with outrage and indignation. I read Delilah Dawson'spost and it left me stupefied. I wanted to reach out and hug her for all she's had to endure. I wanted to tell her it will be all right. Things will get better.

Except I don't believe it. Especially after reading Ann Aguire's post (linked to Delilah's), and the ugly comments that followed. Horrendous replies that attacked her personally, and bordered on threatening. All because she's writing what she loves.

And then I began remembering all the times I hadn't spoken up.

The time when another author said she "didn't understand women's fiction and would never write it." (A YA author.)

The time I got so excited that Margaret Atwood came to speak at a local college, but she quashed my decades-old awe of her by literally laughing at the romance genre. When my turn in line came to have my book signed, I couldn't say anything to her. I couldn't understand why a writer of her superstar status felt the need to put down other writers. So I said nothing as she signed my book, and I didn't even say thanks or goodbye afterward.

Other instances have left me puzzled too.

Writers who started out the same time as me, before I began writing romance but who now look at me as less than a serious writer.

It astounds me even more when writers within the same genre bash each other. It's almost a given that non-romance authors consider romance stories to be fluff. But romance writers bashing other romance writers?

And the latest head-scratcher: complaints about authors helping other authors promote their work. Alex J. Cavanaughmentioned it in this post. Which -- unbelievable as it is -- was part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Alex is an amazing guy who helps other writers regardless of genre, and I applaud him.

So now I'm responding.

Delilah Dawson and Ann Aguire, I truly wish I could say things will get better. They won't. There will always be people who feel the need to belittle others. Be sorry for them. And then keep writing awesome stories.

What I should have said to the YA author who "didn't get" women's fiction:  Fine. Don't read it. Plenty of readers "get it" and love it. Read whatever you like.

To Margaret Atwood: Bullshit. An author of your status should be encouraging other writers, not creating divisive cliques to exclude certain types. Leave that for your fiction.

Me, not a serious writer? Really? I spend every spare moment of my time either writing, promoting, or trying to better my craft through how-to books. And I read as often as possible--mainstream, scifi, urban fantasy, fantasy, contemporary, historical, steampunk. Whatever. Genre doesn't matter to me. I'm drawn to stories with compelling story lines, engaging characters and dialogue. Well written stories. (Because face it, crappy stories exist in every genre.)

To romance writers: Romance has a myriad of subgenres. Some stories don't fit the specific definition of romance, but end up there because it might contain a romantic element. It's a marketing gimmick, nothing more, but that's the way it is. It doesn't make your subgenre any better than another. Again, let the readers decide which they prefer.

To those who object to authors helping each other promote, I'll repeat my response that I left on Alex's blog: Why anyone would object to one another helping another with promotion is beyond me. Writers work hard enough to write a great book, but promotion is another full-time job. If blog visitors don't want to read about an author's work, they're fully capable of skipping over it. I love to help other authors spread the word about their work, and I've been blessed with plenty of generous writers who help me as well.

To anyone who feels the need to lash out at a writer--for whatever reason--get the hell over yourself. If you think you can write a better book, go for it. That's how lots of writers started out. Some succeeded, others discovered it isn't such a cakewalk to create great stories. It's damn hard work. Again--and I'm not sure why this is so difficult a concept to wrap your head around--support the writers you do love by buying their books. If you don't like an author's work, don't buy it. Period.

Author or reader, let's have some respect. If you can't manage that much, then I hope you learn someday how to embrace your humanity.

I encourage other authors to read both Delilah and Ann's posts. Then speak up as well. Bigotry's rooted in a lack of education, so let's educate everyone. Even ourselves.

And now, I've already lost half a day. I'm going to write.



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well said, Cate!
That's terrible what Atwood said.
I don't understand the genre bias. It takes effort to write a book no matter what the genre. And I don't stick to my own genre when it comes to promoting others, that's for sure.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have heard other authors bash certain writers. If I remember correctly Stephen King said unkind things about Stephanie Meyer and her success.
I write romance and fantasy. By far, romance sells more than fantasy. My latest romance has been a bestseller in regular scifi categories. Sometimes I wonder if those writers who belittle romance aren't jealous of its market.

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Alex. I know you're a wonderfully supportive guy, and lots of writers appreciate it. Including me!

It boggles my mind, Susan, especially when it turns ugly as it did for Ann Aguire and Delilah Dawson. I've never encountered it beyond the few instances I mentioned, but it's an important issue we shouldn't ignore.

T. M. Crone said...

Well said! Don't forget that those "Old Men" who are putting down your genre are also portraying women as sex slaves in their work. I think many female writers who have been published for decades think that way as well, because they wouldn't have had a chance in the publishing business had they spoken up then. But hopefully those days are coming to an end.

Cate Masters said...

It's up to the publishers - and editors - to put an end to it. Unfortunately, so long as readers are willing to buy it, they'll publish it.