There’s been something picking at my mind for a couple of years now. It’s dragging me down and, worse, making it difficult to write. Here’s the sequence of events that caused it and my reaction to it.
I was working with another author on a trilogy of vampire books set in Europe at the time of George III. Her name is Celina Summers.
The project wasn’t easy for me. I’d never worked on anything that big before and big things make me nervous. Enough so that my depression started to manifest so for a short time I wasn’t contributing project as well as I could.
But I got restarted on my meds, the depression cleared up and I got back to work.
But I was also enjoying the project quite a bit. It was challenging both my imagination and skill.
Now Ms. Summers and myself both hang out at the Absolute Write forums, and we both participate in the Politics and Current Events sub forum there. Our political views are quite different but it’s a free country. She has the right to hold her views and I believed she thought I had the right to mine.
I was very, very wrong about that.
One day I posted this. Now let me make it very clear. I like capitalism. It’s the best economic system we humans have come up with yet. However I don’t believe capitalism, the economic system, cares much for democracy, the political system. It’s far more comfortable with advanced authoritarian systems that are not opposed to capitalism. I know many people disagree with me but I have the right to believe that and the right to say so.
Which is why it was such a shock to receive this e-mail from Ms. Summers.
* * * *
You need to remember that everything you say online can and will come back to haunt you. When you complain about how the writing of a book is going, I know about it. When you inform the world that due to ‘circumstances with other people’ the book release is delayed, potential customers see it and assume we haven’t done our job. When you bust forth with anti-US sentiments on a political section of a writer’s board, those posts show up on Google AND IT TURNS PEOPLE OFF FROM BUYING THE GODDAMN BOOK.
Look, I personally don’t give a rat’s ass what your political opinions are–you can just keep them away from me and we’ll be fine. But, when your behavior starts to affect my pocketbook it really pisses me off. As far as that goes, you can argue to your heart’s content if you just support you contentions with reliable sources–not op eds or Wikipedia. But above all, you have to treat people with a modicum of respect and the way you’re behaving at AW is not respectful. When I start getting PMs and comments about my writing partner’s behavior, things have gotten a little out of hand. AW is a strong customer pool of mine and you’re pissing all over it. Use the helpful sections, the writing sections. Play in Office party. Post in P&CE with good source material and a more respectful tone. And for God’s sake, stop stomping all over the customer base. Whether you like it or not, the majority of book buyers are American and there’s nothing you can do to piss them off quicker than to equate them to fascists or spout off bullshit about slavery being the high point of capitalism.
* * * *
As you can see Ms. Summers decided that she had the power to tell me what I could and couldn’t say on-line. If she had a problem with what I said she should have dealt with it there, with the same guidelines she laid out for me. Instead she lays down the law about how I can and cannot act.
The only reason I could think of that she could get away with doing that is that she believed the power of our professional relationship and friendship (We had been friends up to this point) could let her get away with that. Also was the sotto voce threat that she would go to our publisher and kill the project. She’d bring up ‘my behavior’, meaning my saying things she disagrees with, and then ‘my behavior’ would be spread around and kill my writing career. All because she doesn’t like what I say and has no trouble using any power she has over me to get me to STFU.
I loathe bullies and that’s what she did, bully me.
I tried to explain to her how I felt in an IM conversation, but she wasn’t having any of it. She even made it clear she felt no obligation to stop posting her political ideas on-line because apparently hers wouldn’t cause the problems mine did. Her were right and wouldn’t make anyone angry. Picture me rolling my eyes here.
I stayed with the project but my heart wasn’t in it. I left after the second book was finished. I no longer trusted Ms. Summers and you can’t work with someone you don’t trust. I’m sure she was relieved to see me go.
I’ve found it very difficult to write since. Quite simply Ms. Summers fucked me up but good.
Why? Because this is very typical of how things go in my life. People always ‘move the goal posts.’ Here I thought creating a book is all about writing but now I find out it’s about propriety; proper talk and proper beliefs and proper behavior. And I’m afraid propriety is not something I’m good at. I never have been and I never will be. I’m the propriety equivalent of dyslexic. My mind just simply cannot comprehend the subject. It makes no sense to me.
So I have trouble writing these days. I’m too sure that I’ll step over some line somewhere that I’m not even aware of and then I’ll be back to square one with any hope of a career. I keep thinking “Why bother? I’ll be judged on the things I’m not good at rather than the things I am good at.”
It’s really tough to do anything when you believe that ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you do. It’s going to end in failure.