Enough is enough! There’s been a lot turmoil in the publishing industry lately. I’m thinking particularly of the spectacularly sexist and biased remarks flying around from some in the science fiction and fantasy field (see as a reference Dave Truesdale’s absolutely unbelievable rant here) and the recent Huffington Post Article, “If J.K. Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” I’ve had so much to say on these matters that I’ve literally been unable to say anything, because it all wants to tumble out at once, creating a bottleneck at the source. But here it is. I know that I’m not saying anything new, but I have to say it: all of this—ALL OF IT—comes down to entitlement. I’m entitled to what you have and HOW DARE YOU stand in my way. What comes next is belittling, bullying and badmouthing others in order to tear them down so that you can climb over their backs to raise yourself up.
Well, let me tell you, it’s not going to happen. Even if you were the next person in line for the accomplishment you think should be yours, there’s only going to be another you waiting in the wings to tear you down. It’s craziness.
Here’s the truth: a person’s sex, sexuality or skin has NO bearing on that person’s merit. NONE. Of course, I’m starting here with the SFWA insanity. I have to start somewhere. Does the first amendment protect your right to spout off biased and bigoted rhetoric? Just recently Adam Baldwin and Nick Searcy have proven that it does. However, an organization does not have to let those people speak for it or give them a forum for their words and yet there is a petition circling claiming censorship for not allowing the bias to stand. N.K. Jemisin did a wonderful post on all of this which says everything I’d want to say more eloquently than I can put it, but I’ll quote just a little bit here: “I am all about the First Amendment. Most writers are. And if this current brave blow in defense of artistic expression had been actually about artistic expression, I might’ve been in their corner. If they’d gone to bat like this, poured out all this sturm und drang and all these Privileged Writer Tears, over the kinds of things the First Amendment was meant to protect — the voices of the minority; the rights of those who need to speak truth to power; subversive art, incisive journalism, political protest — then I would’ve signed the damn petition myself.”
Here’s a write-up about the petition from Black Gate Magazine. Now, I was a columnist for the SFWA Bulletin—the very incarnation of it that was suspended. Sadly, all of us were ditched, along with the editor, who I really enjoyed working with. I agree that the magazine needed an overhaul and I do believe that the egregious columns should have been edited for content or suspended all together, since they provided a biased and outdated view of many things, not the least of which was the role of women in the industry. Do I like the way things went down? No. But will I argue to be rid of any oversight? Again, no. A professional publication should serve its members, not alienate them. It doesn’t mean there will never be any difference of opinions. Get any five members of the industry on a panel and at least one is bound to be the odd man or woman out over an issue. However, a professional publication needs to be professional.
Moving on to the Huffington Post article… Amy Christine Parker did a wonderful vlog yesterday for YA Rebels (below) expressing so much that I would have said, but I want to add my voice here. 1- Criticizing anyone’s work without so much as reading it is bad form. 2- Suggesting that anyone leave a field so that others can get ahead…where do I even start? When someone like J.K. Rowling (for middle grade fiction) or Stephenie Meyer (for YA) or Laurell K. Hamilton (for urban fantasy) comes along, it calls attention to the entire field. Publishers realize that there’s an audience hungry for it and they begin looking for more. It can actually pave the way for other writers of such fiction to come up in the industry. Plus, BOOKS, SELLING = good for bookstores, good for the industry. 3- As Amy suggested in her vlog, writers aren’t workhorses. We write because we have to. We’re artists. Ask an artist to stop creating art and you might as well ask us to stop our hearts.
Full disclosure, I loved J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. I read the whole series not because I have a son the right age (he actually read them on my recommendation), but because I really enjoyed them. Are they perfect? No. What is? But she created a world and characters that I lost myself in, and that to me is magic. Do I like some of what she’s said in interviews since, like that she doesn’t write fantasy? (As if a) we could swallow that and b) there’s anything wrong with fantasy.) No, I don’t. However, I would never suggest that she step aside and am stunned that anyone would feel she had the right to try to elbow another author off the stage.
People, if you can’t get ahead on your own merits, maybe you should look to the mote in your own eye. ‘Nough said.
One thought on “Having my say on recent bouts of bias and entitlement in the industry…”
Wooow, just wow. I actually commented on that Rowling article on my Daniel R Davis FB page…like anyone will ever read it (but if you’re inclined: https://www.facebook.com/daniel.r.davis.7), but it shines a light on the petty jealousy that’s in the market. I can understand that when a big author hits shelves the ones farther down the list get no face time, but telling another author to quit because she’s successful and you’re midlist or worse? Really? It’s called, do something big yourself. Don’t poo-poo another’s fame just because you haven’t “made it” yet.