I’ve never done a Sunday Soapbox before, mainly because I’m a very easy-going person. Adaptable, go-with-the-flow, whatever you want to call it; if you’re not hurting someone, or something else – physically or playing mind games – I’m pretty much good to go. That’s not to mean I don’t have opinions and that I love a good debate, but I have always gone by that old proverb Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged.
The thing is, though, the one where I said if you’re not hurting someone? Over the last few weeks I’ve begun to see across the media, parodies, off-color remarks and jokes, regarding another author’s work. In particular, the current hit “Fifty Shades of Grey” (which, by the way, I just started reading today).
Now I expect it from the late night talk show hosts and other comedians but I’ve begun to hear peers making fun of the title and its content which, to me, is not playing nice. Don’t we, as authors, get enough criticism from the general public? Must we take it from our fellow writers? Is it envy? Now E. L. James may not care one iota what anyone thinks of her title, especially as she’s driving to the bank. Heck, she’s even admitted that no one person is any more surprised than herself with the success of the books. But what if she does have feelings about it? I can tell you, even if I had the big checks coming in, I still wouldn’t want my “baby”, my hard work to be made fun of – and particularly not by other authors. Stephenie Meyer has been made to suffer through it and J. K. Rowling. And another thing, when we’re making fun of the book, aren’t we also discrediting every single reader of that book? I believe so.
We should be grateful that these books have taken off as much as they have. They bring to the forefront the power of books and open up a market for those coming in behind them. Thanks to J. K. Rowling, how many wrote books about sorcery and magic and had a new market to sell to; thanks to Stephenie Meyer, we now have the explosion of vampire and werewolves books. Perhaps with E. L. James, we’ll have a surge for romance and erotica. Now, that’s what I’m talking about 😉 And an interesting tidbit: According to Wikipedia, E. L. James initially wrote this story as a fan fiction homage to “Twilight”. Therefore, aside from the obvious inspiration some of those books have had on others writing, think of how many young people cut their baby teeth on J. K. Rowling and will grow up to be avid readers; all the young adult and middle aged who now have a renewed interest in reading. That’s certainly not anything to be making fun of.
It’s not just what’s going on with “Fifty Shades of Grey”. What about the reviews that are written on Amazon from hate mongers? All successful authors have had them. You know, the ones where you have read the book and it is not only good but wonder why it’s not on the bestseller list; then you read a particular review and wonder if that person even read the book? I’ve seen reviews so filled with inaccuracies but someone, for whatever reason, took the time to write lies hoping the buying public will give weight to their one star review vs. however many five star reviews have preceded it. One can only surmise it’s been placed there to stall sales. Why? Is it someone in the business who wants to throw sand down your underwear while you’re sitting in their sandbox? What gives?
There’s enough writers and equally enough readers to go around. There is no competition. I can guarantee you that if you give ten authors the same writer’s prompt, you would have ten different stories. That’s the power of the imagination. It’s a wonderful gift. We share it every day in our words. So please, let those words be kind.