I've been reading a lot about writing lately, craft, e-vs-traditional publishing, marketing, platforms, royalties, and all the other assorted important-to-writers-but-no-one-else concepts. I love this stuff, just gobble it up (and I spit it back out, as evidenced by my many re-tweets and G+ shares). ;)
One thing I keep running into, though, is:
Every concept has its lovers and detractors.
Writers are people too and we all have preferences and opinions. And we like to be heard. So we, as a group, tend to respond to articles we agree with, and ones we absolutely disagree with. All that's fine. However, some writers (a few in particular who shall remain nameless) apparently live to spit on others.
They DISAGREE, by golly, and they will continue to post and post and fill up the comment area, getting blunter and nastier with each passing comment. I not talking about the folks who comment, 'I disagree and here's why,' then either let it go or continue the discussion in a back and forth, yet always polite fashion. No, I'm talking about the folks who stand in one spot and keep screaming the same damn thing over and over, often peppering their stance with insults or demands that their correct (and obviously superior) opinion be accepted as truth. Or they'll post again, only madder.
It's not just articles about writing, of course (this time of year, politics are a hot bed of rudeness) but as a writer who often knows the two people on either side of the argument, well, it bothers me.
In that vein, I'd like to promote one simple concept that has served me well. It was in the movie, Bambi.
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
Wil Weaton phrases it as Don't be a dick.
Perhaps that's better, it's certainly more to the point.
You don't have to agree with anyone else's position on anything, but at least be civil about the disagreement. Don't make personal attacks. If the other person isn't budging, especially the person whose name is on the blog, article, or essay, maybe it's time to walk away because repeatedly screaming louder won't help and it makes you look like an ass.
And I'd be willing to wager, because it's certainly true for me, people are often less likely to purchase products if they know the writer/artist/company/whatever is a jerk.
There are several writers and musicians who will never get one penny of my money because they're jerks. I don't care how fabulous their album or novel is, I won't buy it because I won't support people and companies who promote nastiness. I just won't. And there are lots and lots of us who make these little financial decisions every day.
And we tell people.
Urgh? You're reading that? Did you see how they handled that thing back in August? What an ass!
And, even better, there are writers and musicians I do buy - even if their product or position isn't my thing - BECAUSE they're nice people.
Take my dear friend Catie for example. Love her, love her work, but we pretty much (but not always) disagree on politics. We can, and have, discussed various issues in a kind yet passionate manner and have remained steadfast friends. Same thing with other friends who lean in the opposite direction.
It is possible to disagree without getting nasty. It's possible to discuss an issue and realize that while your friend may have valid points, you're not buying into them.
Just be polite about it. Please. There's more than enough nastiness in this world already without adding to it.