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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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You know, I said several times in the post that if it were me I'd be crushed and it's got to be horrible for the authors and it's not even tough love and the suggestion for the award is way too far.

You say that you like his post. I can only assume that you like it because its not you up there on the chopping block. Tough love is what you called it. Its not tough love or if that is tough love in the SF world, I can only be grateful to my muse that I have absolutely no aspirations in that direction. Hes not a god, hes an author just like everyone else. Just like those six authors, just like you. To have you say that you aspire to have someone like him give you approval, at least to me speak volumes about your character. You are a published author, you sit at the big kids table. People read your blog and take your opinions seriously. If you need someone like him to validate you, then by all means, go for it. I am just glad my self-esteem and writing ability does not hinge on approval from "older" authors otherwise I probably would never pick up a pen and even try.

In fact, I said it's NOT tough love. It's just tough and unnecessarily cruel. I think you're really, really misreading the tenor of my post. I would like to think that even if I was one of that six, after a couple of days of hurting I'd say the same thing--or be able to react with as much aplomb as Stross did. Because I do think it's important that people of all opinions get to talk. I do think there is a role for cranky old men to shed tears about the state of the world.

I did not say I liked his post. I said I'm ok with it. Then I said I would probably not be if it were me. I don't really want to retype the whole post here. I know he's not a god. He is, however, a highly awarded and respected SF writer and if you think being published is all it takes to sit at the big kids table, I'm sorry, but you're wrong. There are all kinds of tables, and I'm nowhere near the big one.

I don't need him to validate me. But everyone wants the greats to recognize them. Priest in particular? He's not my hero. But there are totally people that I would like to meet and know read my books. That's human.

I think you're reading a lot in that I didn't say.

I'm afraid you may need to grow a thicker skin.

Seriously, if it's your ambition to be a published author, people will say much nastier things about you than anything Priest descended to in that essay, and with less authority. Priest's stature in the British New Wave SF of the 1960s and 1970s is probably best seen as equivalent to that of Harlan Ellison in the USA. He's a really major figure. You may well disagree with his opinion, and you may think he expresses it rudely, but dismissing the content because you don't like the box it comes in is unwise.

PS: I am one of the six authors he dished it out to. I am a grown up: I can take it.

Edited at 2012-03-29 09:22 pm (UTC)

I someday aspire to take that variety of criticism as gracefully as you have here.

I am a reader with no authorship aspirations, and I agree with you about this. Raking a book, or half-a-dozen books, over the coals is one thing; even negative reviews can be valuable. The personal-attacks angle is something else entirely; it does him no credit, and besmirches his personal credibility.

And the person downthread who trotted out the old "you need a thicker skin" canard can go suck rocks thru a bendy straw. There's nothing wrong with telling people that they need to display some manners, and saying there is is Square #1 on the bully-bingo card.

The person suggesting a thicker skin is required is one of the people on the receiving end of the bullying being discussed.

Tthere's a conflation here; writers *do* need to have thick skins, and not be "devastated" simply because another writer attacks their work as unworthy, or even makes snide comments about their writing ability. But I don't understand why that means we mustn't call out the person dishing out the criticism. "You shouldn't let this asshole get to you", indeed. But there's nothing wrong with pointing out the asshole.

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