Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rule #1 of Inverse Bullying - Attack the Big Guy

If you guys didn't check out the stupendously organized WriteOnCon, I encourage you to do so, the logged conference perfect for those without funds, time, or social skills (me, the latter).

Despite all the goodness to be found there (agent interviews, author commentaries, etc.), there was one thing that really torqued my jaw. One particular agent offered her time to critique queries via an online chat (full disclosure: mine was not in there). She offered some valuable feedback, but for queries she did not favor, she too often resorted to snark in her criticism (and, unfortunately, all too often, the ogling masses tittered along).

From my experiences, besides retribution, failure and superiority (artificially created or not) are the two largest factors that engender cruelty toward others, and this can be readily spurred on by the mob mentality. Humor, too often in our culture, is created via denigration of those without voice.

In the writing community, failure is a common tattered thread and quasi-superiority isn't far behind (ha, look at that poor schlep's query... starting with a rhetorical question... fool... and let's not get started on agents, gatherers of fawning wannabes who will lap up the milk no matter how spoiled it may be), so, as in comics' circles, we too often flay each other because, hell, we're thick-skinned (we've learned to be via all that damn rejection) and given all our experience (whether failure, success, or just exposure), we've earned the right, right?

If you want to be funny, be neutrally so, or self-deprecatingly so, or, if you must, do so at the expense of the giants to whom you are a mite on their callouses (...yes, I'm trying to vindicate my Stephenie Meyer jests here ;), but don't wreck the voiceless because it's too easy.

Snark, condescension, etc. is pyrite. It can be found in droves. Looks shiny, but scratch the surface and there's not much there. Look at the Nathan Bransfords and Mary Koles of the agent world, agents who have large online followings... achieved through generosity of insight and wit, wit that's sometimes wry, but never inhumanely directed.

As with zoos, don't feed the animals.


Adam Heine said...



Ricardo Bare said...

Well said.

dolorah said...

Thanks for the brevity Bane.

Too often, people won't speak out on things that torque them because they don't want to go against the grain.

When I first started out in the blogs - Nathan, luckily was my first Agent exposure - I heard a lot of "if you logged onto a blog then you should know the rules."

I dislike when people laugh at others because they haven't learned all the quirks and preferences of not just querying, but of writing itself. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Let me take a moment to say THANK YOU to you specifically Bane. You were one of the first people I met on-line who offered their knowledge and experience freely without being condescending.

Matt too, has always been generous with advice. Whenever I meet newbies in the wide webb out there, I hope I'm as polite and helpful as you two have been. I like the idea of giving back what I've graciously received.

I haven't experienced LT and Stephani much, but from what I've seen here, and on their own blogs when I get around to visit, I like the attitudes.

Everyone here is people I'm proud to say I interact with - however infrequently. Much appreciate how awesome you four are.


L. T. Host said...

Well put! I couldn't agree more.

Eric W. Trant said...

HA! I'm follower number 900 on WriteOnCon!


I always said, "Don't feed the trolls," and the snarky snarkers were always my favorites on the anon sites. They'd come on and say something half-witted and arsey, and I'd crack my knuckles and shred them to shredded shreds with clip after clip of bulletted words.

Blood and guts, baby, nothing but blood and guts.

Man, I miss putting on that cape and crusading around the threads smashing trolls.

That said, I have to be very VERY careful around politics. I get snarky but fast, and so I've laid off that particular topic as too emotional.

Good post. Thanks for reminding us ALL to be nice.

- Eric

Joshua McCune said...

Adam, Ricardo, LT, thanks for the support.

Donna,I am by no means the nicest person in the world (just ask the missus ;), but I wholly believe the cloak of anonymity afforded us by the internet should make us more solicitous of others (whereas most, too often, go the opposite direction).

And thank you for your kind words, something too often overshadowed in both the real world and the silicon one. Nice might not be as funny and some may not consider it clever, but it is far more valuable than I would ever admit aloud.

Eric, I'm definitely gone troll-hunting myself. That being said, I'm all for criticality. But there are ways to do it in a diplomatic manner - lead the horse to water instead of shoving their throats in - probably comes from my middle child background.

Keep smashing the trolls (and, yeah, politics and religion can get me going the wrong direction fast, too)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Extremely well said, Bane. I saw that very chat going on and ... logged off. Life is too short to spend even reading that kind of thing.

*bravo to you*

Joshua McCune said...

Susan, you were smarter than I was... I just sat there and stewed (well, sent a comment or two that got moderated).

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

I participated in the WritOnCon but did not read the query critiques via the online chat. You are right though we all have to start somewhere. Kindness is best.

I love Mary Kole's website! Nathan Bransford is so much fun! I love their wit!