Friday, May 16, 2008

Too much Said Can Really Hurt...

Too much said can really hurt in ways we never considered.

The first time I wrote erotic romance, I tasted real freedom in my writing. I was finally able to express the act of love just as I did everything else in my story. It is such an absolute feeling of creative expression to write erotic romance!

Now, that’s me and not all writers would agree. Which is great. I enjoy many genres of fiction outside of romance as well. That’s what makes the world go round.

At least to me it is great, but as with any profession, there is always going to professional snobbery. Folks can call it what they want, but it is what it is. I know there’s been a lot on various sites with rants about our genre. Whenever I read something written on a public forum that condemns and bashes something or someone, frankly, I don’t place a great deal of credibility on the person posting it.

In fact, I’ve lost respect for people I once thought rather highly of. Their public rants have afforded me glimpses into their inner selves. To make matters darker, when this kind of attack on erotic romance comes from authors, especially those who aren’t writing erotic romance, I have to wonder why they are even posting in the first place? I mean, if they aren’t writing in the genre, why do they care and more importantly what are they trying to achieve by criticizing it?
Yes, it confounds me. Greatly. It would be like me deciding to rant about mainstream SciFi because it doesn’t have sex and romance in it like my genre does. HUH? I mean, really... HUH? And on the flip side, you don’t see erotic romance authors slashing and slamming romance authors and their genre. At least I’ve not seen any. What would be the point?

It's really cliché, but hey I can be cliché - to compare is like comparing apples to oranges. Granted, they share the common element of romance, but truly, they are very distinguishable and separate genres.

As you can tell, I am just so completely confounded by these public displays of professional snobbery, that I have to stop and examine what their motives are. Hmm... still trying to grasp the mindset that stimulates such attacks. Well... Maybe...

It reminds me of when I was in college and working toward my degree in Commercial Art. I was humming along, happy to be learning a way to make a living from what little artistic talent I had. One day, a comment was made that floored me.

The Commercial Art Department (CAD) and classrooms were housed in the basement of the building while the main floor was occupied by the Fine Arts Department (FAD). One of my classmates, who happened to be the best artist I’ve ever known came into class furious. It seemed there had been some kind of an ongoing bashing from those enrolled in Fine Arts with those in Commercial Art. (Call me Forest Gump. I was oblivious to it.) The FAD (Fine Arts Department was apparently infamous for referring to those of us in the (CAD) as “PROSTITUTES”. You read that correctly. So I asked why and it was explained to me that FADs viewed our choice in life careers as commercial artists as opposed to fine artists as “prostituting our art for commercialization.”

Well, beyond the obvious ignorance of such a statement, can you imagine how that phrase made me and everyone else in my class feel? I mean come on! What kind of high school mentality is that? I burst out laughing and my classmates frowned at me. I mean it was the silliest kind of snobbery I'd ever encountered at the time.

Here we were spending money and a lot of time learning to utilize our talents in order to be productive in society by earning a weekly income to support ourselves. Some of us would become commercial photographers to help corporations best display their products in advertising, create sales flyers and advertisements, work for catalog companies, and any other numerous fields of commercial art. I did all but the photography and was a commercial and residential interior designer (the other part of my degree) for seven years. Never once did I feel like a prostitute for my art. (g)

Yet, because we were going to be earning money through a commercial means with our artistic talents, not starving for our ‘art’, we were called ‘prostitutes”. Nevermind we were going to have a greater percentage of our class - 100% - with potential income earning skills and typically very lucrative income and gasp, even careers. But, because we had chosen a different form of art expression, we were all lumped together, condemned, criticized and ridiculed as “Prostituting our art”.

And who were those doing all this condemning? It certainly wasn’t the CAD students, who were simply being studious in our chosen fields. It was those who based on percentages of success, would maybe 1%-2% ever get a painting into an art gallery. Which, I would have been applauding their success. All of us in the CAD would have been happy for them, until the slurs started. Until the ridicule and name calling started.

So I learned from that experience and encountered it in the many careers I subsequently had - professional snobbery was alive and well in every industry.

The need to feel superior is the nut of any such snobbery. But back to the individual slurs and insults. What exactly are these people hoping this get from all this? Aside from creating a controversy and gaining lots of hits on their sites and having a little moment in the spotlight. I can't see any other purpose.

Do readers even care about this kind of internal conflict and subsequent behavior? As a reader, I would have been appalled if one of my favorite authors was like this.

Seriously. Are you buying an author’s book because of her attacks on others? Because she can be clever and snark with the worst of them? Truly, being that way doesn't require much, just a lot of negative emotions. It's easy.

I’m really curious if this kind of personal opinion has anything to do with you buying a book. At least in a positive way as in "oh, I really want to buy her books now that I read the way she let that author have it." Whoo YEAH!

For me, the only thing these public rants have done for me is to cross-off authors from my automatic to buy list. Why? Because it's simply that I can no longer read their books without having their angry tirade echoing in my head.

I mean, I tried reading one such author the other day because I’d purchased the book several months ago and had no time to read. But between buying the book and reading it, she’d taken up a cause against a certain group and when I finally sat down to read her book, I couldn’t get past her anger and rage I’d read posted all over the internet.

The feelings conveyed in her internet posts invaded the book and the words of love she’d written rang false. The author intruded into the book and made it invalid. So I gave the book to Good Will. It was a very upsetting realization to me that I could no longer enjoy this author's work. Her lasting impression in my mind is not what she'd written in the book, but what she'd posted on the internet.

Who is to blame for reality intruding into the sacred place of make believe? Was it my fault for not being able to get past the internet blog posts or was it the author’s fault? Was there no fault at all? We all have the right to make our opinions known, but maybe sometimes it's just not the right career move to do so.

I don’t believe I can ever overcome the rants I’ve read these past months. I don’t think I can ever return to those authors as a reader. Too much has been said. Damage has been done that cannot be undone.

The magic of their books has been robbed from me-forever. And I'm reminded of something I read: “Once something is said, it will remain forever said, nothing can ever take it back or change it.”


Cindy Spencer Pape said...

I'm with you Sally. Talking trash and name calling isn't something that appeals. There's room on the shelves (virtual and otherwise) for all of us. But why would I buy books from someone who has openly bashed my genre? No thanks.

Misti said...

I agree with you Sally. I was really upset when I read one of my favorite authors blog and she was really down on one of the publishers that was at RT convention. As a reader, it affects my opinion of that authors books. I won't be buying them in the future! Cindy is right as well, there's plenty of room on the shelves for everyone!

Dena Celeste said...

I think that there's a difference between bashing and voicing an opinion, and that difference is respect. It's possible to respectfully disagree with just about anything. But bashing is just so middle school.

I don't want to buy books from someone who would, publicly, throw a temper tantrum. At the very least, if they need to rant, they should do it to a trusted friend or something. Not for all and sundry to read about on the 'net. It's not classy, and I want to think that someone who writes about the power of love getting through so much hardship...might actually show some.

Anyone who is in the public eye, whether through books or movies or what have you, represents their industry to some extent. What the heck is the point of alienating half of your target audience? Or any of it, for that matter?

*ahem* Sorry, I just hate to see what this rivalry that shouldn't exist does. I hate to have some authors whose work I really liked turn and denigrate an entire genre that I also enjoy? It insults me, as a reader and as a writer.

My $.02 and I'll stop now, LOL.


NathalieGray said...

I got an e-mail the other day about someone asking me why I hadn't posted my opinion about some of the post-RT circus.

I replied "does anyone give a shit about *my* opinion?!" Of course they don't. Nor should they.

And to give my opinion about something on someone else's web diary would indicate that I care about what they say. Which I don't.

Sure, I'll read some of it if it's short and to the point. Rants can be well-worded and entertaining. Hell, even interesting. But when the author of the post starts to pontificate, I'm out of there.

Having a short attention span has its advantages.

Sally Painter said...

Absolutely, Cindy! I've always felt there was room for everyone in any career I've had.

Sally Painter said...

Misit, that is as you just read exactly what happened to me. It's a sad thing and something I wrestled to overcome, but whenever I see that author's name anywhere, her rant flashes in front of me as though I had a photographic memory, which I don't. (g)

Sally Painter said...


That is so true. I've never understood the need to bash even when I was in grade school I found it upsetting and moreso as an adult since I probably understand the far reaching long-term effects it has.

Sally Painter said...

Nat! That is so funny, I thought you were going to say you responded with a BIG K-A-B-O-M-B baby!

Ciana Stone said...

Ya'll have said it all and I agree. I don't visit forums or blogs what cater to bashing and bitching. It serves no positive purpose so I steer clear.

Besides I'd rather be writing. I don't have a wealth of free time so why waste it reading someone's negativity. Just forces me to have to scrub the nastiness out of my mind.

Have a great weekend!

N.J.Walters said...

I believe everyone has a right to an opinion, but no one has the right to bash other people. I mean, it's not like this is life and death. It's writing. People have the right to write and read whatever they chose. If they don't like something, they can say so. But that doesn't give them the right to bash the entire genre or its writers.

Do I like all erotic romance or romance in general. No. But that's okay. I would never denegrate anyone else's ability to making a living. I think anyone who can make a living off their writing or art is to be admired--even if I don't particularly like what they do.

I found your comment about when you were in Commercial art class interesting Sally. Don't the Fine Art students realize that many of the "great" painters worked under the patronage of a rich person. Look at the Sistine (sp) Chapel. Was Michelangelo prostituting himself. No. He was obeying a decree from the pope and making a living.

I stay away from all the negativity on the lists. Personally, I don't have the time or the energy for it. Life will throw me enough curves without getting involved in things that don't really matter in the larger scheme of life.

Ashlyn Chase said...

I totally hear you, Sally! I've faced stigmas many times now. Born of intellectuals, I went to art school too--and majored in Fine Art. Imagine my shock when the job placement officer laughed in my face when I asked what kind of job I could get. She handed me a newspaper clipping that said for every job that required a BFA, 300 MFA's were applying. Boy did I feel stupid.

I've since learned to do what makes me happy and let others think whatever they want of me. If they can't be happy for me simply because I'm happy, they aren't reall friends.

Sally Painter said...

Hiya NJ! I, too, am staying away from all that negativity. Ewww. Don't want it rubbing off on me. (g)

Sally Painter said...

Ashlyn, how disheartening! It's so important to have that career advice prior to choosing a major.

Very true words of wisdom about following the beat of your own drummer!Hugs!

Sally Painter said...

You said it, sista Ci! Hugs!