As a person, I cannot abide bullying and as a writer, I will not.
I just got a rather rude and quite cruel message on LinkedIn. A woman responded to a post I wrote telling me, not kindly, to change my job if the post was any indication of my work. Needless to say, I responded in the same fashion while at the same time trying to remain professional. (I will admit though that I did call her a “vindictive crone” – her picture revealed her to be an elderly woman).
If there is one thing I hate that I have encountered is the cruelty, I see when someone demeans another’s works. It’s one thing to offer constructive criticism, even when it hurts your feelings (believe me, I’ve gotten many of those in my workshops and rejection letters) but it’s another to tell someone to quit their change because their bad. I hate it when people don’t like my work, especially when I work so hard on it, but at least they are offering a perspective I hadn’t thought of, making me thankful for each comment, no matter how harsh. Did I always agree? No, because there is something I see that they didn’t, which again, points me, as a writer, into the right direction to get the reader to see what I wrote, to see behind the lines.
This woman offered no constructive criticism whatsoever, and I despise that. It isn’t the first rude message I’ve gotten and won’t be the last, I’m sure, but I have to write this. Considering that I fancy myself a critic I know that that is saying a lot, but I pick apart what I’m reviewing, the authors technique, not the author themselves. To demean a person is bullying and that’s very unkind.
Let’s say I am a clinically depressed individual (of sorts I am since I do battle with depression on an almost daily basis) and she had sent me that message on a particularly bad day, a day I didn’t have the strength, the will to believe in myself, in my dreams. Anyone reading this can probably guess the many dark directions my life could have taken. She had no right, no justification to say such harsh words. Sure she is entitled to her opinion, and I told her that, but she took into account nothing but her own ideals – probably didn’t even register that I’m a human being with feelings and doubts like anyone else. From her attitude and sense of entitlement, hubris will no doubt be her downfall.
I not overly confident in my writing. However, that’s not to say I’m not confident at all. I’m not perfect, that’s what editors and proofreader’s are for, but I like my writing. I’m horribly scared that when I publish my book, and I am going to publish it, that it will be bashed like no tomorrow. It is a young adult book and those tend to be torn apart so much in today’s age so I’m frightful that my novel will end up and the bottom of the barrel. Nevertheless, I love to write, I like my techniques and I’m confident that at least one person is going to like it, and honestly, that’s all I need. I’m no Rice, or Shakespeare or Brontë, I just read them. All I can hope is that what I’ve read, the techniques I’ve learned from constructive criticism resonate in my writing.
All I ask is that if you are in the writing profession, don’t just bash a person who has obviously made writing their passion, over constructive criticism, help them be better, or else your nothing more than a petty bully who wants to bring someone down to give yourself a high. As a critic, I acknowledge that this may be hard, especially considering that I recently just tore apart a novel that was horrendous on every front, but remember that there is a person who exist, who wants to do this.
No, not every person who wants to write should be given the opportunity to write, but to bully someone, to demean them, is cruel. If you believe someone should not be a writer, than address them, kindly and try to help at first before forcing them to face the hard facts.
Just don’t be a vindictive crone…unless you’re planning on offering proper criticisms. Experience and a sense of entitlement don’t excuse or hide bullying.