Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thoughts on online personalities, writers and blogs

I love to read other people's blogs and am aware that mine is probably of little interest to anyone other than me and a few close friends who wonder why I don't call anymore. I admire those whose blog themes have intellectually wide appeal; discussions of poetry, music, art and contemporary events and I enjoy following the comments of others on their blogs. I have actually acquired one whole comment in the last three months--from a friend of my husband. That's okay--I'm not keeping this particular blog for any higher purpose than to journal through my own writing process and send those thoughts off into the ethernet in the least intrusive way possible. If someone stumbles on to my thoughts and finds them appealing, that's great, but I don't expect rave reviews.

Among the blogs I follow is one by a sci-fi writer from Australia named Simon Haynes (the author of the Hal the Spacejock series). He seems to be such a decent sort (happily married with kids), is very generous with writing and publication advice, offers very good in-the-trenches type thoughts, and is extremely funny. I can leave his books laying around without worrying about whether one of my kids pick them up; they are squeaky clean. He never fails to respond to writing and publishing related questions and treats everyone with the same friendly deference. He has a growing readership the UK and in the US and I hope that he will some day find his way to the states for a book signing. I would be tempted to fly to where ever he's signing them just to meet him and his family.

On the other hand--without naming names--I've followed the bloggings of a best selling American writer for two or three years now, own all his books until recently and have even been a member of his discussion forum. Another extremely funny, talented man. He too used to be quick to offer writing advice (I even keep one of his quotes on hand) though he seems reluctant to discuss publication. He is also an outspoken liberal and has a foul mouth, but that didn't put me off. I don't have to agree with someone to like them. However, I do have to respect them. I think a lot can be determined about a man's character from the way he treats the people he disagrees with and this man demonstrates a huge weakness in this area. My theory is that a dangerous combination of his increasing fame and the clear adoration of the fans who agree with everything he says, have given him the impression that he lives above the rules that govern the behavior of the rest of us. However, until recently I was still prone to give him the benefit of the doubt. His work is that good and I am just that much a die-hard fan.

On his blog, in the comments, I caught a discussion between him and a fan about his upcoming tour. The fan made disappointed noises about his not coming to their state. He proceeded to insult the population of all "red" states (of which this fan was a member) and how he wouldn't go to them anymore. Must be nice to have so many fans that you can throw away huge portions of the country like that--not just by not coming, but by calling them names. Hint: Those of us in the red states (aka fly-over country) read more than just the Bible. I will no longer support his writing, nor will I recommend his work to anyone else. I will not even bother to give his books away, but put them in a box until I'm ready to throw them out (reflexively difficult for me).

Note: I just went back to his blog to reread exactly what he said and was amused to find that he deleted all of his own comments. It looks like this is because the publisher created a second tour later on in 2007 that will include the section of the country he insulted. In any case, short of a public apology on his part, the damage has been done as far as I'm concerned.

Some day I hope to sell a book or two. I firmly believe Trouble_Waters will be the first of these and no I haven't thought this about anything I've written so far. Should I be fortunate enough to attain any acclaim, I hope that that what I've said about Simon (a part from being funny--which I'm not) can be said about me as well.

Meanwhile, back to actually writing the damn thing . . .


Simon Haynes said...

Thanks for the kind words, Mary. I guess once you attract a big audience you're able to influence or insult thousands with a few taps on the keyboard. It must be easy to step onto a soapbox in that case.
I still think it's all about the books, though. Authors aren't movie stars or politicians, and you don't even have to know what they look like to enjoy their work. Maybe I've got things the wrong way round, but I'm trying to sell my books rather than little bits of myself.

Simon Haynes said...

I forgot to mention - if you want to get more blog visitors and comments I recommend the Absolute Write blog chain (they're up to number 8 now)

And you should also join the blogroll here:

Mary O. Paddock said...

Hello Simon. And thank you for stopping by. It was an unexpected surprise. I guess it was a good thing I wasn't sharing my view of the president, big business and the shrinking middle class tonight. :)

I was in one of AW's early blog chains (I was still using the Myspace blog then). It was lots of fun. Joining the blogroll is a good idea. I'll add my name a little later.