I have a confession: I’ve been going to science fiction conventions since 1976. My goal for many of those cons were to see actors. Some of them were nice people and others I wouldn’t want to know. One I became friends with. He was always a gentleman and very aware of his image he presented to the world. At one con, he did an interview for a horror magazine. So when it first came out at Borders, a friend and I snatched up copies right away. I called my friend, a little worried because the interview was laced with f-bombs. We’d both read all his interviews in the past, more than 20 years worth, and he’d always kept it very clean. We debated about it and wondered if the writer had added the words for that magazine.
Nope. The actor had gotten to drinking during the interview and said the words himself. When he saw the interview, he was livid because he’d gotten the writer to promise not to use the profanity. But the true problem was that he’d said them in the interview in the first place.
There’s been a lot of that online lately from writers. It’s like people have forgotten that they’re on public view. Writer Unboxed just had a recent example of that. It’s been taken down, but I saw before it was pulled (a discussion is on Absolute Write. Scroll to the bottom post). The writer in question took a fan letter from an eager fan that evidently offended her and explained how to “rewrite” it better. The fan was guilty only of not being a skilled writer and probably being young.
Then there’s been the review meltdowns. Writer gets a 1-star view or one that contains a reference to something not be good in the story (and sometimes it is very minor reference) or doesn’t give glowing praise. The writer goes on the attack, ranging from telling the reviewer to take it down; getting the fans to attack the reviewer; or attacking the writer publicly.
I even got attacked in Twitter. The writer asked me to do a review. The book had been labeled as action-thriller/fantasy and looked like a detective novel in the sample chapters. The pages didn’t give me action vibes, so I politely declined as being “not for me.” The writer wanted to demanded to know why, saying things, “You say you’re an action-thriller writer. Are you or aren’t you?” Excuse me?! I didn’t “owe” a review merely because I’m action writer. I finally told him that it didn’t have enough action for me, and he had a meltdown in 140 words.
Maybe I would have read a future book from him, but now I’m never going to buy one because of his bad behavior. No one remembers the good person before. All they remember is the meltdown.
Our image is our words. If we attack someone online for critique, a review, or because they don’t do what we want, that means we don’t have control of our words.
Getting angry and lashing out at someone online = bad writing
How have you been shaping your social media image? Have you experienced a meltdown from another writer?
My short story “A Soldier’s Magic” appears in the anthology The Darkness Within, available from Indigo Mosaic Publishing. It features two women soldiers who have to make a tough decision to save a lot of people.