Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Few More "Gatekeeper" Notes...

...and a caveat.

First of all, let me say the reference to people not liking what I've said of late has, predictably enough, hinged around this "gatekeeper" discussion.  

No surprise there.

Nowadays, the "gatekeepers are evil" sentiment is considered to be inviolable. If you express a liking for "the way things used to be," you're painted as a dinosaur, an advocate of "cultural policing," a snob who simply wants things your way, and/or a  "wannabe" slamming those out there creative enough to go the self-publishing route.

Notice that in my original post, I did nothing of the kind of any of those things. I stated that in my opinion, we already had had a pretty good system of "sorting" out those works that were ready for public consumption from those that weren't. I added that the people who worked on that side of the desk weren't ogres, mindless drones, or people who hated creativity or innovation; they, just as the authors they unfortunately had to reject, were doing the best they could at the jobs they were hired to do.  And I simply put forth that in my experience, as a result of many books not having "gatekeepers" to point out flaws and/or send them back for more work, the market has been flooded with dreck.  

I actually took special and particular pains to say I was not badmouthing self-published authors or small presses in general.  Heck, I'm with small presses. Am I gonna be stupid enough to badmouth the route I've taken myself?

Yet at least two self-pubbed authors decided I was bashing their work and their enterprises--never mind that I hadn't said anything of the kind--and had all kinds of hurt feelings and/or snark that they then unleashed on me.

I also took pains to mention that the books I was criticizing were in my "inferior" list not because I "didn't think they were good enough for me" (!) or that "I should decide what quality is" (!!) but because they had flaws. As in errors. As in bad grammar, poor structure, word misuses, incoherencies, or other stuff that made me mutter a lot as I tried to read them. Those things have nothing to do with what I personally think of anything. Those things are basic English language writing skills. They're able to be objectively decided. And it's not just "my opinion" that those are important. I'd wager that any writer who was so quick to lambaste me for saying these things out loud would be put off the same way I've been by some of this stuff.

That's probably the saddest part of all of this: that people riding the horses in the crusade against anyone being able to tell you your work may not be ready...didn't bother to ever ask me more about what I'd read that had struck me that way.

They didn't bother to ask me if I've ever had to write a rejection letter, or if it bothered me to do so. (I have, and yes, it does.)

They didn't bother to ask me how much of this kind of work I've encountered, and if there seemed to be a bigger proportion of it coming across the figurative transom. (The answers are "a lot," and "yes.")

They didn't empathize one iota with the frustration that's clear from every single line of that original post. They apparently didn't read the line that said, "I hate saying this. I really hate saying this."

They simply decided I was disrespecting them, and proceeded to rant on me accordingly. 
Which does present the question of who actually was disrespecting whom

Finally, the caveat. If you've lasted this long in this post without seeing red and crossing me off every single friend list you have, you probably know what's coming and are fine with it. 

The caveat is about my tone. Oh, I got a lot of reprimands about that.

From people who don't believe in gatekeepers.
From people who don't believe in "cultural policing."
From people who don't know me personally--at least two of whom came to my blog already "loaded for bear" because they didn't like something else I'd said in a comment section somewhere else--and yet proceeded to assume they had the right to scold me.
To which I can only say, once again, "Who's disrespecting whom here?"

I put up a post out of frustration, dismay, and not a little grief.

It wasn't read that way.
At all.
But, hey, if you find yourself offended by a cynical, harsh, or perhaps a bit snarky tone on things that are written from frustration, dismay, and not a little grief--if you truly think that someone, on her own blog, needs to worry about whether she's "polite" enough in those circumstances...?

Feel free to go elsewhere for sugarcoating.

I'm just not wired that way, and it ain't gonna be here.



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