Yesterday, I posted about the 25-year-old virgin, who turned out to be a fraud. Coincidentally enough. But last night, I was watching Law & Order SVU and (spoiler if you haven’t seen it) in it a teenage girl goes off her medication because she listens to a rock star who says that psychiatrists are poisoning people’s minds with unnecessary drugs.
It was interesting. It was one of those shows where, to me, everyone was a bit of a victim. And, in discovering that the virgin story was a fraud, it got me thinking the frequency with which people get exposed. Some author writes a book and calls it non-fiction and it turns out to be fabricated lies. People get jobs with phony credentials. Just yesterday, Trace blogged about sincerity and how hard it is to believe anyone you see on tv as being for real.
And it is.
I had an interesting conversation with someone not too long ago. They told me they checked all their email to track where it came from, to validate the source. On the face of it, I bet some of you are thinking that’s extreme, but sometimes, I do it too. I get an email from someone I really admire and I’m thinking, Is this a joke?
It’s sad. I struggle with this all the time, on all levels of relationships, because I genuinely want to like people. I want to trust people. And my inclination is to ‘like everyone’ until I find out they aren’t a good person, but then I’m hurt.
Some people might think I’m being bossy and critical to say it, but I genuinely worry about people dispensing bad advice on the internet and blogs. Since I’ve been active in the blogging community, I’ve seen some crazy things. Miss Snark fans will likely remember the post in –December, was it?- that talked about the guy telling writers to make up writing credits so agents and publishers would take them seriously. (If someone has the link, I’d love it – couldn’t find it this morning.) And that’s just one example. I can think of dozens of sites where some self-appointed guru is holding court, dispensing their peals of wisdom and when you check them out, they have no writing credits to their name.
And some of their advice is bad advice. Trust me, as someone who worked in journalism and studied in the field, some of the posts I’ve read have made me want to scream.
I see the bi-product of this all the time. People refusing to comply with submission guidelines for Spinetingler. Authors trying to sneak past reviews they’ve written of their own book…
And I’ll stop there, because I have this whole post on editing that one day, I’ll be brave enough to put up, but not today. I’m at risk of anything I say about Spinetingler editing being internalized by a specific writer or person, when I would bet substantial cash none of the people I’d be thinking of read my blog, particularly since no one example is a sole person and some of them were journalism colleagues. But still, someone will take it personally and think I’m bashing them.
Plus, my editor does read my blog. Ohhh, maybe I should get that post up before I get editing notes so she doesn’t think I’m talking about her. Hmmm, I’d better consider that!
There’s a saying I read a long time ago, at the bottom of a Daily Bread devotional, that said: An open mind is a good thing, like an open window. But you put a screen on it to keep the bugs out.
Although I wasn’t endorsing the 25-year-old virgin and his plight, and didn’t even link to the website, I still feel a bit bad to have given this fake any more publicity than he was already getting. I’m glad he’s been exposed, but one thing I noticed when I was looking at one of the news sources online I read regularly – they’d pulled down all the articles about this guy.
So, the progression of the revelation of the truth wasn’t acceptable, perhaps because they had egg on their face? Now, instead, it’s like his sins have been washed away, at least by that press.
Which just reinforces my skepticism, my fear that we indulge frauds and by sweeping them under the carpet and poo-pooing it, we leave the door open for more to come along and lead others astray.
I can’t stress this enough. Double-check your sources. If you get advice anywhere – from me, from JA Konrath, from Miss Snark, from anyone – it never hurts to get a second opinion.
Interestingly enough, watching the kittens growing has reinforced something about this to me. When they’re born, their ears are folded down, so they aren’t able to hear all that well. Over the past few days, the ears have started to perk up, Russel even looked at me when I called him.
And it’s made me think about how often it is that the ‘babies’ are the most adamant that they know it all. It’s made me, again, afraid of disregarding advice from anyone generous enough to give it to me. The few people who’ve read Suspicious Circstances and been generous enough to give feedback, I’m reading through it all and trying so hard to keep an open mind.
Because if I claimed to know it all and to have mastered everything about writing, I’d be proving myself a liar.
One of the books I’m most looking forward to reading in 2007 is the debut by Brett Battles, tentatively titled Hung out to Die. JB Thompson has done a fantastic interview with Brett, and you can learn more about him here.
In light of what I’ve been blogging about today, part of this is a bit disturbing.
And I’m not ignoring you guys this morning – I’m off to a meeting and look forward to responding to any comments when I get home.
What colour should your blog be?
Your Blog Should Be Purple
You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything.
You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey.
You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.