I have been reading a popular blog. The topic that seems to have lit everyone on fire is the idea that someone invaded an author forum under false pretenses. I don’t want to hash/rehash that topic, but it did occur to me that lots and lots of people are, well, naive.
The idea was that author forums are where authors can go and vent about their publishers, their agents, fan mail, reviewers, etc. Where we all hold hands and sing songs around the campfire, then pinky swear not to divulge a word of what is spoken in our midst.
I belong to the Avon Authors’ Loop because I joined about twelve years ago and it doesn’t bother me to belong. I rarely check the messages, and I have them on web-only so I can go and read everything when I feel like it. I have contributed to the discussion exactly twice, about six years ago, but not since then.
I don’t belong to any other author forums. I did, however, join one that was affiliated with a group of multi-published authors. After one day, I figured out it wasn’t for me and unsubbed.
I’ve said before – and I’m saying it again – that authors/writers are just a cross-section of humanity. We have some nut cases in our group. We have kind people, nice people, not so nice people, brave people, cowardly people, mean people, generous people – in other words, the gamut. Authors/Writers aren’t better people than anyone else. We aren’t special creatures.
It seems to me that forums attract a certain type of person on a regular basis. Someone who is firm and fixed in his/her opinion and all too ready to demonstrate how YOU are wrong. There’s a lot of bullying (and I hesitate to use that word, lately) of the sort that if you aren’t among the majority, then you’re just wrong.
But confidential? Um, no.
I once had someone lift whole pages of conversation from a “confidential” forum to show me how people were bad mouthing me. Um, thank you, but why? Their opinion of me is none of my business. The topic was my stance on piracy. I was against it then and I’m against it now. If you think stealing someone’s intellectual property is okay, then you and I are not going to agree.
Anything you say on the web will remain on the web until the cows come home, turn gray in their stalls, and dry up to dust. Try the Way Back Machine if you want to see things that were “erased”. People talk. If the conversation is juicy enough, they’ll talk a lot.
Before you’re tempted to rant about your agent, editor, a reviewer on the web, take a step back. This goes for if you’re not a writer and tempted to complain about your boss, your work place, or your co-workers on the web. Take out a pad and a pen and write a note. Put it in an envelope and date it for tomorrow. Only after a night’s sleep can you open it. Then, after reading your red hot words, you want to post it somewhere, be my guest. Keep the envelope. It will be handy to timestamp when your career started to disintegrate.