Shit-Flingers Gonna Shit-Fling

I’m tired today. I made the mistake of remarking on being happy that people who read a certain YA series were writing their own books and fics now–and telling me about it–and for some reason that set off an avalanche of hatemail. Apparently I am not allowed to be happy that people found some value in my work.

This is absolutely exhausting. Especially when added to exploitative corporations, entitled ebook thieves, and so-called “reviewers” who hound me to produce more work so they can snitch-tag me about how much they despise it. Some days I bloody well wonder why I do this, any of this. I mean, I’ll never stop writing…but publishing?

That’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

I know I should focus on the positive, and many days I do. I’ve built a lot of guardrails and habits into my day to cut down on the chance of shit-flingers deciding I look like an easy target. But apparently remarking out loud that the stress of writing a certain series was worth it, that I’m happy for the people who found it worthwhile, is Too Much and I must be punished roundly for it. The funny thing is, most of this crop of shit-flingers seem upset over things I had literally no control over, publisher decisions I was not allowed to say “no” to. And if they’re not upset over that, they’re upset that a series with a teenage narrator has bad choices, questionable behavior, and messy growing-up themes; they claim to be furious that the main character wasn’t a little ball of sweetness, light, and perfection.

Of course, had she been, they’d be mad because “she’s privileged” or “she’s a Mary Sue.” And if she made good choices it wouldn’t be a series about growing up, not to mention it would’ve stunk of bullshit to such a degree no reasonable reader would want to come near it. And, for the record, if I hadn’t fought so hard and pushed back against other questionable publisher impulses so much, the entire thing would’ve been reduced to irredeemable pap these same people would despise as well.

There is no winning with people addicted to the emotional jolt of outrage. They will never be happy with anything; they will find reasons to be shitty, and to shit all over everyone else’s joy. If there isn’t something awful in a book they will contort their reading of the text, putting pretzels to shame, until they somehow make something awful, then blame the author and try to whip up a resultant internet mob. Bad-faith “interpretations” and flaming are their preferred source of oxygen, and you can recognize them handily by the fact that they literally never have a good thing to say. (Unless it’s about their own work, if they can take enough time away from their outrage manufacturing to actually finish a piece.) It’s all doom, gloom, and how-dare-you, no breaks and no time off for good behavior.

No book or series is perfect, of course. And the vast majority of reviewers, readers, editors, and netizens are good people. Unfortunately, bad apples poison everything in the barrel, and are just one more shitty, toxic reason to find some other career. The bad-faith actors are loud, and get a lot of attention. Sometimes, due to the law of averages, they even manage to point their ire at a fellow bad-faith actor.

I’m never quite sure how to feel about that.

Some days it’s tiring, especially when one’s inbox fills up with shit-flinging. I try to focus on the bulk of my usual mail, which is far more pleasant; I keep access to my life carefully gated. And I remind myself, over and over again, “I can block and set up filters, this is just a small part of the correspondence I receive. I can walk away. Nasty people have to sit in their indignation-filled nappies 24/7; I can be glad I’m not them.”

Theirs must be a terrible way to live, after all. I can pity it, while not letting the poison reach me. I know this is just a temporary tiredness, I’ll feel better soon, and the shit-flingers will find something else to toss their ordure at. It’s like the weather–rains on the just and the unjust alike, and all that.

But dear gods, sometimes it wears on one, especially when I’m apparently not even allowed to let a lot of very kind people know I’m overjoyed that they’re creating their own books and fics and art. I suppose I should have known better and braced myself for that particular flood, since any sign of joy is like blood in the water for that certain proportion of folks, but oh well.

The dog requires his walkies, and there’s work to do. I suppose I’d best quit complaining and get to it. I don’t write for the shit-flingers, and it’s best to remember that.

See you around.