It’s alarming how one less-than-expertly written post can draw a really hurtful comment. In my case, I was attempting in my post about blogs that are being published as books to show the irony of the situation. It’s not that I don’t like blogs (I read a lot of them and have five of my own), but when you consider how many hard-working unheralded fiction authors lose their publishing contracts, don’t get promotional support from their publishers, can’t get reviews in key publications, can’t get their books into bookstores, must do essentially all their own marketing and simply give up out of frustration–well, you can see the irony in a blogger getting a contract, a big book tour (which I’m assuming the publisher paid for) and a Letterman appearance, right? (Seriously, you have to be able to see the irony, don’t you?)
Thing is, even though I started the post off by talking about how hard fiction authors (in general) work to keep their careers going, I threw in an ill-advised sentence. I said that after working at fiction writing since 1995, “I’m much better off than I was, but I’m still not where I’d like to be.”
Well, let me tell you, someone went totally ballistic over this. The comment left was as follows:
“Your completely transparent jealousy of other people’s success is nauseating. [Zoiks! That's one angry bit commenter.]
“While it’s a shame that your career as a ‘crime novelist’ hasn’t really paid off yet, hold on tight, because with your positive attitude and goodwill towards other humans, your karma is through the fucking roof, lady!” [So, basic sarcasm then. Okay.]
Well, as I said, my intent was to show the irony of the situation. And, in point of fact (and believe it or not), I’m not jealous. In fact (also, believe it or not), I’m extremely happy.
When I said “I’m much better off than I was, but I’m still not where I’d like to be,” that wasn’t an expression of dissatisfaction, but an affirmation that, even though I’ve come a long way, I’d like to go farther. I have goals that I’m working toward. And when I get up every morning, it’s with excitement and anticipation of bringing myself closer to my goals–even if it’s only a half-inch.
Besides all that, I have no reason to be jealous, because I’m very lucky. Why? Because in 2004, I had a stroke and was extremely lucky to be treated in time to make a full recovery. However, five months later, my left hand and foot began clenching involuntarily. My neurologist diagnosed my condition as post-stroke dystonia, an affliction for which treatments tend to be hit-or-miss and which currently has no cure.
So why is that lucky? Well, it’s not. Except in the sense that now I feel more compassion for people who are suffering than I once did.
Another reason I feel lucky is that despite the continuous (and I mean non-stop) clenching in my hand, I can still write. This is extremely lucky. Frankly, my health issues have made any setbacks in my writing career seem puny, on the whole.
And things could be much worse, like they are for this poor fellow.
So, to review: 1) I’m not jealous; 2) I’m happy with my career, but have goals I’ve yet to reach; 3) dystonia has made my work more difficult, but not impossible, and made me more compassionate to others’ pain.
Oh, and as for karma points? I’d like to think that my willingness to help other authors with advice would earn me a few.
I go out of my way to link to authors’ Web sites when I blog about them.
I write book reviews (for free), which I publish on my book review blog. (And I do this, in part, to make people aware of authors they might not otherwise have heard about.)
I always answer emails from readers.
I enjoy making personal appearances at book signings and book discussion groups (in fact, I just met a book discussion group recently–we had a great time).
I’ve given away loads of copies of my book (yes, to reviewers, in contests and for promotional purposes–but I had to foot the bill, since I’m (for all intents and purposes) self-published).
I was a volunteer stream tester for the Save Our Streams program in Howard County, MD.
I organized a fundraiser for dystonia. It was motorcycle ride called The Freedom Ride for Dystonia. It was my idea and I spearheaded the organization and promotion of the event (with help from Donna Knipp, the awesome event coordinator at Old Glory Harley-Davidson, and many kind volunteers–including my wonderful husband).
So–can a gal get a few karma points here?
All I’m saying is, the next time you want to go vitriolic on someone’s ass, you might want to stop and think first. Maybe you shouldn’t do it based on one (albeit, poorly articulated) post. Maybe you should actually know something about a person’s “positive attitude and goodwill towards other humans” before you criticize it.
Otherwise, congratulations. You win the prize for the one-and-only (and most singularly) angry comment I’ve ever gotten on any of my five blogs. (And I’ve been doing this sh*t for years.)