Saturday, March 8, 2008

In Good Company

I'm having one of those days. There's some personal stuff going on that probably won't get discussed with anyone but my best friend and my hairdresser. And then there's this.

It's stupid. So stupid I can't stand it. Someone judged a piece of my writing not on its merits or its content, but on the fact that I'd put a line on top to the effect of: This is for those who are over 18 only. The reason was that I had two characters engaged in an adult situation: the man (yeah, for you who know me, that'd be Trevor) sniffed the back of the woman's knee and a discussion ensued. That was it. Nothing explicit. Nothing overly titillating.

I have readers who appreciate those warnings. That's why I included it. They quietly skip those outtakes. Some loyal friends don't read most of my outtakes because they don't like the four-letter words that guys in rock bands are attached to. They simply show up and comment on choice things: my characters Chelle and Roadie Poet, or the not-fiction. But they don't judge the stuff they don't read.
That's what's sticking in my craw right now.

There's a bit of irony in this. At the same time my judgement was being handed down, Maxim magazine was being blasted by The Black Crowes (see? Once again, it all gets back to music! Books or music; it all gets back to one, the other, or both.). The magazine seems to have run a review of the Crowes' new CD. Problem is, it was a negative review.

Okay, negative reviews happen. But take a second. Think. How does this parallel my story?

Well, yeah. You've got it! The reviewer didn't hear the whole CD!

Am I really vain enough to compare myself to a Platinum-selling band? Looks like it, although I'm certainly not expecting the same uproar, outcry, and show of support. Too, the situations are different: the person in question in the Black Crowes bru-ha-ha was supposed to write a review. Judging something is part of being a reviewer. I know this; I write reviews, myself (albeit book reviews).

In the case I'm bummed about, I'd submitted a piece of my writing to someone who didn't have any stated content restrictions. I never received an e-mail saying that there was an objection; I had to initiate the discussion, and then, the resolution, such as it was, wasn't handled in a way I was overly pleased with. Nor was my piece of fiction read beyond that disclaimer at the top. Nope, the person in question stood by the first two lines of my piece.

Which is fine. That person made a decision and is standing by it. More power to him or her. It'd have been nice if some sort of content restriction was included in the submission rules, but not everyone operates on the same up-front policy that I do. Nope, apparently, this person would rather … what? Alienate the participants? Make arbitrary decisions based on partial information? Not bother to tell people that there are rules we should know thanks to the oh-so-dependable proceess of Osmosis Through Computer Screen?

Either way you look at it, this person looks as bad to me as Maxim Magazine does to a Black Crowes fan right now.

Of course, there are still people who will go buy Maxim Magazine. There are still people who will submit fiction and poetry to this person in question. That's fine; this is a great big world we live in and we're all free to make our choices. The fact that we all make different choices is part of what makes us unique and what makes us humans so fantastic.

Frustrating, too. Why have I been wasting my time with someone who changes the rules on a whim? Or who makes assumptions -- when asked, I was told that I'd written erotica. Given that my friends who do write erotica laughed hysterically at my self-imposed rating, I'm pretty sure they have nothing to fear from me. I'm even more certain, yet again, that my piece was never read by the person making the erotic assumption.

The Tour Manager tells me that my sin was in being my usual, forthcoming self. Apparently, "don't ask, don't tell" applies to more than the military. Yes, I've learned my lesson. Instead of acting to make sure I've covered my basis, I should take the wimp's way out and plead ignorance of my actions.

Because, you know, everyone else does.


ndpthepoetress Jean Michelle Culp said...

Wow, what a perplexing paradox of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Hopefully this will act as a stepping stone for you to jump onto better things for you, such as reviewers whom surmise the whole and not the tidbits.

Lex Valentine said...

I really don't like to do what everyone else does. I like to be me. And you already know my take on your whole writing prompt sitch. It started with the F word. It's been an F word week, what can I say.

I'm too old and cranky to be very good at molding myself to suit others. You get 1 shot at this life. Just do what you want. If YOU feel you should have a disclaimer, then use one. If you don't care who reads what you've posted, leave it off. But don't NOT use one just because other people don't. Vote yer conscience, girl!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, this is one of the reasons I do, Winter. And I'm up front about it, too. That's what gets me. If you want to make a rule, fine. But make a rule so that others know about it.

mauniejames3 said...

Your should be able to write what you want and it's unfair
to change the rules on a whim, however, that's the way things happen today...sometimes a little power goes straight to some peoples


Lex Valentine said...

In all fairness to the person we're all talking about... my sense is that she just wasn't thinking. She figured she could do this thing and slapped it up there. Why she has a writing prompt that deals with creative thought processes, but never has the thought that DUH some people don't see things the same way that she does, is a little amazing to me. I mean, c'mon, when you do something like this you gotta realize that there have to be SOME rules, which you should summarily POST in plain sight for the people who choose to participate. Now, whether those rules include the fact that this person is a BIASED, MORAL MAJORITY SNOB who will ruthlessly omit your hard work at her own whim and not tell you why... well, my dears, that is whole other thang. *wink*

Lex Valentine said...

Okay, I'm having second thoughts on the name calling. But is it really name calling if I don't know who the person is? HEH HEH

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Winter, are you maybe a little riled up?

Lex Valentine said...

Not enough sleep. And people like that just get under my skin. It's one of my buttons, I'm afraid. Well, I think I'll toddle off and offer myself to Mr. Fabulous as a guest on his BlogTalk Radio show. LOL I really am tired... if I do it, you should come on with me Susan. We would overwhelm him and take over the show!

Anonymous said...

Dang, that would make me mad too. How frustrating it must be to have that happen. I know if they did that with one of my stories, clearly not even reading it, especially, I would be furious. In which wrote a very polite post about it, bravo.

Makes no sense to me if they didn't have it posted in the rules why they would do that. That sucks, sorry to hear it happened. :(

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I was trying VERY hard to be polite, Kevin. The last thing I want is to either smear someone or start a flame war. There's enough ugliness in the world. I don't need to add to it.

But I DID need to vent.