I should have known having Spinetingler Awards would cause me a lot of grief, and I really wish I could say that I don’t care about the criticisms, but I do. And not just for me. The reality is, whenever people start their commentary on who’s worthy and unworthy to be nominated for an award, they not only criticize the decisions of the judges, but they’re criticizing the authors of those works.
So when some loudmouthed asshole with more ego than talent comes along and starts trashing nominees,* I’m getting a bit pissed not just for myself, but for the writers and editors who deserve their nominations.
What ‘noirboy’ fails to grasp is that the award shortlists were compiled off of popular nominations. And because of how tough the short story category proved to be, I ranked the points differently. If an author recommended their own story they got one vote. If someone else recommended the story, it counted for two votes. And yeah, if there were ties, I cut Spinetingler stories first. Sorry, it was just impossible to be impartial.
In other words, Amra's story had to kick some serious ass and have strong public support behind her to get there. And she, like so many others, had no idea.
In other words, the people who made the list had readers recommending them. People liked their stuff. I think the best e-mail I had was from one of those writers, completely shocked that they’d been nominated. And then I saw Chris’s comment on his post, about how he had no idea people were even recommending his story until he saw the nomination list.
Which is a pretty cool feeling for a writer.
Maybe we should all pat poor little noirboy on the head and commend him for having the courage to go online anonymously, with no link to a blog of his own where people can express their dissenting opinions. I mean, it takes a real man to run around trashing people and scurry back under the woodpile like a rat. But I especially love how he seems to think he knows who people are voting for. He seems to be trying to badger other nominees with the threat that he’s campaigning for Charles Ardai’s story to win. Oooohhh. I’m sure everyone else is quaking in their boots. And thanks for the tip-off that if a bunch of Ardai votes start coming in “anonymously” I’ll have to check tracking on the e-mail source to make sure noirboy isn’t trying to rig it.
Like, for fuck’s sakes, you can’t do anything intended to be helpful or supportive without getting pissed all over in the process. I think at age 36 I’ve given up on the dream of getting substantially thicker skin. When people kick me (as someone else did this week about something else) it’s one thing. It may hurt but I can handle it for myself.
But I actually feel some responsibility, as though I set these writers up to be put under attack, because I put them on the ballot. I know – believe me, I know – that’s not the most rational way to think about it, but if it’s a sin to care about how others feel I’m guilty. Every potential nominee I cut from the list in every category was done with a knife in my heart. Some of my own favourite reads from the year didn’t make it.
Here’s my little challenge for the person Steve Allan so appropriately termed fuckhead: Put a name and a face to your assertions. If you really believe it all, if you really stand behind it, get a blog, use your real name, have an e-mail address and maybe your balls will drop. I’d dearly love for there to actually be something there for me to aim at. Otherwise it won’t hurt as much.
To those of you thinking about starting an ezine or running an award or doing anything else of value that’s meant to contribute to the genre you love, bear all this in mind. Think twice. Because people will come at you and try to get the knife in your back far faster than they’ll thank you for what you’re doing. If you’re doing it to be popular, I hate to be the one to break it to you.... Think I’m joking? For every story I accept there are several I reject, and some of those people walk away associating me with their negative feelings about being rejected. I know writers need to learn to deal with it, and I’ve been through it myself, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who can’t wait to have a chance to take a shot at me to get even. Think it buys me favours and gets me positively reviewed? Man, most industry people don't even consider me an author because SC didn't have the "right" publisher, so I have to wait until May, 2008 until I'm "in" - whatever that means. I don't want reviews I don't deserve based on the writing, but the hard thing is that SC wasn't widely reviewed just because of industry prejudices and politics. I'm not even self-published but I've been treated like a leper.
(And hey, when people go on their blog and publicly criticize you and then say they're concerned about you, they're just full of shit. Someone who's concerned e-mails and discusses their concerns with you privately, instead of trying to trash you publicly and then cover over their bad behaviour with glib excuses.)
It’s just a reality of life. You get that kind of bullshit in everything, not just writing. Yes, I suspect a scathing Amazon review to turn up on my book any day now… Because that’s the petty kind of asshole noirboy is. I know it. His own behaviour proves it.
And truly, if noirboy wants to get published, perhaps he should spend more time writing than running around slamming people.
But he can pat himself on the back and feel mighty fucking special because yes, he hurt my feelings and he made me cry. I mean, yes I’m really sick right now and last night couldn’t sleep at all because of the coughing… and I am getting divorced, so maybe I’m a tad more emotional than usual, but still, kudos to you noirboy.
Between noirboy and the other person who did something more personal and private this week, it’s been a banner one for life in the writing business. This is why I sometimes think the authors who only look out for themselves are smarter. You try to do something, genuinely intended to help raise profile for quality work in the genre, to keep talented writers in the game particularly as it gets harder and harder to stay published, and people are only too happy to pile on and tell you to do things differently or that you got the nominations wrong or whatever. (Authors who blurb get criticized for blurbing too much, so they stop, while others will only blurb those from the 'right' publisher or those they're friends with - it's no wonder some people don't have much respect for this industry. Some days, I don't either.)
Well, you’ve got opinions about the awards, noirboy? Start your own fucking ezine and build it up over three years and then start your own awards so you can run it how you want to. It takes nothing but a big mouth and a lot of insensitivity to express a criticism, particularly one based off taste, but it takes a hell of a lot of work to get to the point where writers tell you you’ve helped them get an agent or a publisher.
I’m proud of every nominee on our list. And so glad I don’t have to vote in the short story category, because I loved all the nominees. So to you writers on the list who may have been feeling a bit down because of this, who are you going to listen to? A self-important jackass who uses anonymity to attack people, insulting women, Native Americans and others…
Or me. Sugar and spice personified. ; )
* Follow all the links from here to get the full background if you want to.