Monday, December 3, 2018

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

"It took me 50 long years just to work out
That because I was angry didn't mean I was right."
- Jackie Leven, Classic Northern Diversions

There's been a lot of anger lately. Anger over award nominees. Anger over successful authors having a writing room. Anger over the attacks against writers. Anger over an author's book title. 

And I'm reminded that just because a person is angry doesn't mean they're right. 

I have no issue with standing up on principle. There are times we need to say something is wrong. (I support the MWA decision about rescinding the award last week ...) 

But there are also times to take a deep breath and consider addressing a concern privately ...  Or consider if it should be abandoned. (Thinking about a book title scandal and then someone said JK Rowling isn't a writer, she's a waitress ... Just because you're angry doesn't mean you're right.) 

My husband and I have both been in the mystery community online for a long time. Between the two of us we've written hundreds of reviews. Brian has produced some serious in-depth analyses on different things in the genre. We've both interviewed a lot of different people. Everyone from Laura Lippman to Ken Bruen (who is responsible for introducing us) to Rick Mofina to Duane Swierczynski to Allan Guthrie ... The list goes on and on. The list of people I have published, and am about to publish in 2019 is also very long.

And we've seen the online community go through a lot. It isn't the same community that is was in 2005 when I launched Spinetingler. It's more cliquey and fractured and, sometimes, a lot more angry. This has come up more and more when Brian and I talk about the publishing world. It came up last week in a conversation we had with another friend. It's come up in other communications with other members of the mystery writing community. Some of us who've been around for a long time wonder where things are headed. What's become apparent is that there's more conflict than we even know about.

I'm shaking off negativity by doing an extended Advent Calendar of things I loved in 2018. Books, movies, shows, other stuff... Whatever was worthy of consumption. Today I feature a book I absolutely loved from my 2018 reads. The list to all prior entries, including the first book that kicked off my Advent Calendar, is in that post.

I never get up in the morning and wonder who I can piss off. I never begin a book hoping to hate it. I want every book to be great and every person to be awesome. And 2018 had a lot of greatness in it. Great shows, great books. It was hard to bring it down to 27 things. 

Moving forward, I'm going to be focusing on keeping my feed filled with genuine book recommendations based on more than friendship. Brian and I are looking for the tremendously great stuff we want to champion. What I love may not be for you; another book that doesn't wow me may be perfect for a specific audience. Part of recommending books is knowing who they'll resonate with. (If you love cross-genre greatness then one of those books is a dystopian sci fi noir thriller you may love. The other is a fantasy story about sacrifice for the greater good, about family, about commitment.)

2019 is going to represent a conscious shift in what I'm listening to on my social media feeds.

I work with a lot of great guys (like my Edgar nominated, Theakston Award-winning agent and my publishers) and am married to one. 

Outside of them and a few close friends and associates, I want to hear more from diverse and female authors. I want to hear from more book bloggers who aren't featuring a book for money or for some other gain, but just strictly out of love of books. For me, I've looked into my feed and seen where a lot of the anger is coming from, so I plan to let 2019 be the year when PAWM fall off my radar for good. There's a long history of clinical depression in my family and I am Eeyore at heart. I see all this constant arguing and the cycle of attacks and feel depressed. I have to filter it out. 
There's too much to be legitimately angry about (politically, environmentally) and there are times that anger is justified and needed in publishing, like acting to ensure equality for female and diverse authors. I need to save my anger energy for those things that deserve it.

Most people just want to hear about great stuff they might like. Because when people read a great book that they love they want to read another great book. All drama sells is popcorn.

We aren't engaging anyone who will be won over as a reader as long as we focus on fighting among ourselves. The Edgar controversy didn't increase book sales ... in part, because it had nothing to do with books. It may have ended with what I think is the right result, given what I know and saw, but the fact that there was a conflict stinks.
Save the energy for what matters. And if you don't have good stuff to say about the genre, maybe it isn't the place for you. Go find what makes you happy. Life is short enough. 
I'm saying so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night to unnecessary anger. I'm hoping 2019 is going to be a year of positive change. And I intend to surround myself with like-minded souls who are willing to work for the things I believe in and stand their ground when needed to champion a worthy cause, instead of people looking to control, to censure or to create conflict.


Thomas Pluck said...


Dana King said...

I find I have done what you're about to do without making a conscious decision. If I see something I can contribute to, I do. When I do I make every effort for a reasoned response. If I even suspect a Facebook or blog post is the outrage du jour, I just skip it.Life's too short.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Agreed. And right now the potential for outrage is continuous.