Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kindness as the Bus Drives By: A Rant

One of the things I love about the running community in my town is its support of the individual efforts of its members. No matter how fast, no matter how slow, we all cheer, coach, encourage, and support each other during training.

When we get to the race, though, we all run our own race. It isn't dirty, It isn't cut throat. But best friends will run harder than they've ever run, other friends will bet to see who wins (this time), and the losers congratulate the winners and we all go out for pancakes afterward.

Granted, this kind of idealistic POV isn't true for every runner in my town. But it's true for the majority.

Okay, writers, what's the deal? Why can't we do this?

When I see writers ripping OTHER writers to shreds on reviews, on critiques, even (goodness!) in person, it makes my gut roil in disgust. Why? It doesn't sell your book any faster. It doesn't make you a better writer. It doesn't make the community see us as a legitimate professional organization. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Throwing others of our community under the bus only threatens to overturn the whole bus, YOU INCLUDED! It's hard enough to get things published as it is with all the negative press that "regular" people are throwing around. When we get the riot act from our own ranks, what does that say about our profession?

A little kindness never hurt anyone. A little extra time to help someone pays off in the end, even if it's only that good feeling that you're not a bully or a grammar nazi. Not everyone you meet is going to know "the basics." If they need, and are willing to accept, a little coaching, do so without criticizing the fact that, "You should have known that." Well, they didn't. So what. Does that make you a god?

The "competition" shouldn't start until the book is on the shelf, and even then, especially then, we should celebrate our competition's winnings. If you don't have anything good to say in a review, then keep your fingers off the keyboard. Your work should speak for itself by its good writing. If you have to rip someone to shreads to get readers to read your book, then it probably isn't written well, anyway.

I have two degrees in English, a certificate to teach English, ten years + of teaching experience in computers and communication arts (and the occasional math class) and I still find myself learning things I didn't know. And making mistakes along the way. Life is about making yourself a better person and making your little corner of the world a better place. So start doing so. And please, please, people: start treating each other with a little more respect.