Friday, 9 March 2012

Lest They Cease to Interest Us...

There are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us. ~F.H. Bradley, Aphorisms

I'd hesitated to ever write on this subject, to ever voice my feelings. Why? What could EVER lock the lips of the outspoken C. Zampa?


I've been silenced by fear, rendered dumb by it.

But when I came across the above quotation, the 'nature' of the beast I'd feared became clear to me and I suddenly recognized it for what it was: a very small, very meaningless, very sad monster. Not even a monster, but more like that Wizard behind the screen. An illusion of power that really is just...well, a being hiding behind a screen.

Recently I witnessed a storm of cyclone proportions in the literary world. I cannot even tell you how it started, as I---as usual---walked into the middle of the unsettled waters after they'd been stirred to tidal wave strength. But by the time I DID venture into the surf, it had become what appeared to be a lynch mob, out to hang an author.

The mob grew to horrific proportions, being egged on by what seemed a small handful who led the chants to kill, kill, kill, begging for blood, blood, blood. A literal cyber crucifixion took place. A blatant attempt to ruin, to slaughter.

I won't even say what the crowd's accusations were. To me, since it was not grounded by fact but by bitter whispers that grew into roars of meanness, I walked away.

Even so, coward that I am, I lay low, hoping those searchlights of hatred never find me lurking in the shadows. What if I displease this angry horde? What if I say something---even accidentally---to draw their wrath? Will MY book be next? Will they crucify ME?

There it is. Fear. And I'm ashamed to admit it. I'm embarrassed to confess I would choose not to voice my disapproval for mob mentatlity due to fear of retaliation, for terror that my own book might be targeted, that I as an author would be the next victim. I regret the fear that my own success would be somehow impeded was greater than my couarge to stand up to the cruelty, to say I do not like it, that is wrong.

It IS wrong. It's bullying. And I suspect the same voices at the front lines of the terror brigades are surely the very same who unite in anger over bullying in schools, yet do not realize they are just as bad.

Voices that hold court in such demeaning form go beyond the bounds of the critic. Alice Duer Miller said, If it's very painful for you to criticize your friends - you're safe in doing it.  But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that's the time to hold your tongue. 

Truer words.

And their power---their ability to generate fear---in my eyes anyway, is lessened by the fact that they indeed conduct themselves so in order to shock, to draw attention, to insure a consistent crowd. And if the curious minds who feed their insatiable need for attention at the expense of their peers---for it IS their own peers they target---ever walked away, bored with the high-octane snark? Would the cruelty wither and die?

Unfortunately, I don't suspect to see that happen any time soon. So, in the meantime, I'll cling to this thought by Andre Gide, There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. 

And, sure, I'll remain in fear that because I've spoken---oh, hell, it would take even less to spark bitter minds---they will set their sights on me.

And I'll write. Knowing my voice of dissent will surely draw them like the scent of blood to a vampire or raw meat to a hungry lion, I'll still write.

Others who stood in such arenas have survived. Proof that the animosity only has a brief moment to wail before the rubber-neckers get bored and walk away, waiting for the next uproar.

And while I continue to write and while I probably continue to cower, I'll pray every night to keep my heart in its rightful place and I truly will keep that golden rule, to do unto my peers as I would have them do unto me.

In the dictionary, the word for this rule is: RESPECT.


Unknown said...

I keep hearing innuendo of this kind of thing and will confess that I have no idea what or who you are referring to, but will thank you for your time to put this out to us. Authors are humans and jealousy is one of the ugliest traits we have. Add to that a pinch of honest admiration for another's talent but minus the maturity to deal with in a healthy way and BAM I suppose, you have the recipe for the type of conflict you describe. Best of luck with your writing and staying in general above the fray.

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

It's the safety in numbers mentality, the one that insists on hiding inside the crowd for fear of being outed or pointed at or otherwise left to stand alone. When what is right takes second place to what it easy and convenient. In the land of It Doesn'T Really Concern Me.

Too many are not willing to stand up for what they believe in because of fear. But the strongest fear is that which is created in ones own mind - the reality is usually far below what is imagined.

Like the thing underneath your bed which grows to fearful proportions and paralyzes you with fright until you screw up your courage and turn on the light - and realize there was nothing really there.

Very thoughtful post, Carol.

I think your first quote explains why some celebrities do the crazy things they do, even self-destructive actions, because it keeps them in the spotlight and remembered. Even unto death.

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Liz, you hit the nail on the head! It is exactly the recipe, I think.

C. Zampa said...

Amen, Julie, amen!

Tom Webb said...

The last sentence is what it is all about - respect. For the writer, or whoever is being accused, as a human being.

Bullying is nothing but a lack of respect for the dignity of a person. By reducing them to a something, the bully is able to make us feel less than. And that is WRONG.

Sometimes it's wise to speak up, and sometimes it's not. That's a choice that's up to each person.

I know for myself, if you are speaking of what I think you are, I made the choice and I lived with it. And would do it again.

Carol, you are a doll, and I applaud your strength in taking a stand.



by Sarah Lee said...

I'm with you 110%, sis! I got tired of bullies years ago and have sided against them to support underdogs many, many times. I understand how you feel because people are ridiculously unfair, prejudice and judgmental. They feel safe when they're ganged together against one, but when that one gains supporters, it's strange to see how they begin to backpedal.

Blog on, sister! You rock!

nicebutnaughty73 said...

Carol, I have no idea what's going on, but I admire you for writing about it and putting it out there. I sincerely hope the author you spoke about is okay and can come out of this a stronger person. (((hugs)))

Fenraven said...

I know the storm you speak of, and I did speak out on my blogs. I didn't even think about what it could mean to me, because, well, I have a big mouth and strong opinions and I refuse to stifle in a world sometimes gone mad.

Only later did it occur to me that I might be damaging my future earnings as a writer. That thought gave me pause, and I enjoyed several moments of exquisite terror...and then I moved on. What you said is correct. They were bullying one author and then widening their net to include a publisher.

In cases like this, perspective helps. It was only a few screaming voices, and while the squeaky wheel does get attention, it is soon forgotten as the abrasive thing it is.

I will always speak out on such things, because that is my nature. Fear will just have to take a back seat to sanity and reason.

Erastes said...

I've been a victim of a much smaller hate campaign, but it was difficult to weather - the easiest way to do (although it was actually difficult) was to stay out of it, say nothing and let the wankers and detractors say what they will. I knew that they would find another victim in no time at all, and I was right.

Hopefully, few people will remember the hateful things that were said about my gender, my sexual orientation, my belief in either, my motivations, the inside of my head blah blah blah. By remaining professional myself I could at least rise above the baying of the wolves and behave in a more mature manner.

My skin at least has toughened considerably since all the wank, and although I've learned some lessons they were lessons I'd rather have not learned. People just like to join in the lynching, I've found--specially when it's easy to be anonymous and hateful.

sue laybourn said...

Carol, I'm with you 100% There was more than one occasion when I wanted to speak out over this latest witch hunt but, like you, I was afraid to say anything in case I was put on the blacklist.

This was the second time in a matter of months that it happened. It really p'eed me off more than I can articulate. The entitlement mentality of some and the outright hypocrisy of others just left me gobsmacked.

But, as you say, what's needed is respect, regardless of what someone may think. There are some things that are best left unsaid for the sake of our profession and our genre. Being a writer shouldn't mean you're fair game for haters and resentful wannabes.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, McTom. It's an 'always' thing. Always a new author's neck on the guillotine.

And by their own peers. Sheesh.

Love you, my sweets.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, sweet sis. Yep, that ol' safety in numbers.
Age old thing, and I'm like you. Just get so tired of it.
These are adults who are doing this, not grade school children.

Love you, my sis.

C. Zampa said...

Nice-n-Naughty, I think most authors who've weathered this kind of lynching DO come out stronger. And we're all targets.

(((Hugs))) to you, too.

C. Zampa said...

It's my nature, too, Fenraven. I wouldn't demean myself to add to the swirling comment gallery, but looking down at it was just pitiful and left such a lasting brand on my mind. To never sink to that level.

C. Zampa said...

Erastes, I am SO sorry you've expeienced this as well.

But you're a shining example of one who survived, was strong.

Thank you for sharing.

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Sue L., I know what you mean. I forever just watched. But this last bout just broke my heart. Maybe the straw that broke the camel's back, as ALL this sort of attacking breaks my heart.
Finally you see how much of it is without any foundation. Just hatred and jealousy.

I kept to myself, too, because of the genre. But, then the genre untilmately and ironically, was the reason to speak. LOL.

Fenraven said...

@C Zampa

It's why I posted to my blog instead of joining in the conversation (if one could call it that) more deeply, but then, on GR, they posted a screen shot of my blog and started to tear me to pieces.

I learned one thing from this: not to lower myself to their level, no matter how pissed off they make me. That particular group mentality will never listen to reason and will always find a way to skewer you. They get off on hurting others. Best to ignore.

However, I will continue to speak out on my blog whenever I am moved to do so. That's my forum and I'll say what I like there.

Jessica Skye Davies said...

Hey... you said something about vampires smelling blood. Weren't you just copying offa... um... about a hundred different vampire stories!

I'm hoping these people are made to look as foolish as they are.

Serena Yates said...

Bravo!!! And Amen!!! And thank you for your honesty and courage.

C. Zampa said...

LMAO!!! Jessica, that just made my day! Thank you, thank you so much! ((hugs)))

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Serena. Not so much courage as just my Irish is up. LOL...
Thank you so much!

Amy Lane said...

It's never easy to speak up, honey. You did fine.

Bailey said...

I admire your courage and your clear-eyed assessment of the recent unpleasantness. The folks who accused and bayed for blood remind me of certain people I've know in my life. Mention a film, a book, or anything else that's popular/successful, and they'll find a way to deride it. It's as if they think that belittling or attacking others makes them cool/superior. You're quite right, in my opinion, to label them bullies. I'd like to thank you for letting your voice be heard in spite of the fear that you might be next.

Laura said...

Interestingly enough, I did make a public comment to a late-to-the-party accuser, who admittedly had nothing on which to base his opinion. He had also recently undergone a smilier mob event, yet he added his fuel to the fire, without evidence.

I pointed out his poor behavior and how disappointed I was in him. It was disappointing to realize my respect had been misplaced. Almost as soon as my comment hit his posting, he deleted the thread. Unfortunately, he just went somewhere helse to hold court with his minions.

I suppose it's just a coincidence that I am now suddenly receiving many 'ratings' from new 'friends' on a certain review site...

I don't like bullies, or bullying behavior. In the past 6 months I've seen many examples of the mm writing community acting like sharks and feeding on their own.

That makes me sad. I have been a lifelong reader, and I can tell you the best way to convince me to buy more books, is to give me a good book to read in the first place. Because when I finish a great read, I'm going to go look for another. And then another.

What will convince me to walk away from a book? Petty behavior on the part of an author.

I prefer to be a cheerleader, and I can say I'm genuinely happy for the success of each of my friends and fellow authors. There is room on the shelf for all of us.

Standing beside you Carol,

L.M. Brown said...

Very well said. I don't know what storm you are referring to. The last one I witnessed was a couple of months ago (I think) now and has thankfully died down a little.

I spoke out about the online witch hunt (though not as eloquently as you - my only quotation was from Thumper the rabbit's mother ;-)

I wondered if there would be repercussions for me further down the line. So far there have been none that I know about.

Kellie Kamryn said...

It takes a strong person to walk away from mob mentality. Good for you for speaking your mind. When we all stand up to the demon of fear, the world will be a brighter place.

DawnsReadingNook said...

Beautiful post Carol. You go girl and know I stand behind you 110%. I know what witch hunt you are talking about and made one comment on GR...ended up being yelled at which made me laugh. If they thought I was going to back down, they had another thing coming. I don't regret telling them they are like 12 yo school girls acting like their best friend stole their boyfriend. in fact I laughed when they started in on me or I should say one member did, and I put it frommy mind, shouted my support to said author and told another he lost my respect and my $$ on his books after the stuff he said and did at that time. As a reader, I decide where my money goes when I buy books and the number one issue that torpedos any book sale from me is authors turning on authors, acting like they did in those instances and in that moment you lose me as a fan, as a reader of your books and I will boycott you till doomsday. There are many other wonderful authors who write beautiful stories that I can spend my hard earned $$ on. So off the soapbox now *sheepish grin* Sorry Carol for the long winded post

Karenna Colcroft said...

Very thoughtful and courageous post, Carol. I think I know the firestorm you're talking about, and it was unfortunate that all of a sudden it became a mob mentality thing.

N.J. Nielsen/ Saddington said...

Honestly Carol, I think most of us feel the same way - I don't understand all the bruhah - in my mind if you don't like it, or have a problem with it then just don't read it, but there is no need to drag everyone else into their way of thinking. Mainly when people carry on like that it makes me go and buy the book just to see what the big fuss is and nine times out of ten I absolutely love what I have read.

I think people need to actually take the time to see the whole picture before going off half cocked. So thank you for this insightful post.

C. Zampa said...

Laura, well said! So many good points you made, I can't list. But how funny that one who suffered at the hands of a lynching would turn right around and do so to others. When they knew very well just how devastating it was. Shame on them.

Thank you for sharing, my friend.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Amy. It sure isn't easy.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Bailey.
You're right. Can't people who do this realize that it DOES reek of resentment?
And what do they EVER gain from it? Nothing.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, LM. It always does die down, doesn't it? And leaves nothing purposeful or constructive in its wake.
Only good thing? It seems to make the victims stronger. It rarely ruins them, so look how much energy the 'mouths' waste.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Kellie. Standing up is so hard. But, damn, it gives those who are weak so much power to let them keep us in fear.

I've been so surprised, during the various incidents of these kinds over the past year, to see just how afraid people truly are of being potential victims.

C. Zampa said...

Aw, thank you, Dawn. I know you're not one to sit back and just listen to such.
And thank you, sweetie, for your support.

C. Zampa said...

Thanks, Karenna.
I've seen it happen a lot lately, some more violent than others.
And that's just does seem, like you say, to happen so suddenly.
Before you know it, someone is on a cross and being tortured. These are PEOPLE this happens to. Grrr...

C. Zampa said...

Amen, Norma!
There might be one among the lynching who does know some facts, but then others join in and start egging it on, and they remind me of little Igors (is that the little toadie in the monster movies?), rubbing their hands and chanting, 'Yes, master' to the cauldron stirrers.

S.Lira said...

Lovely post Carol. You are spot on. I'm usually a person that speaks my mind too but as you say, we have to be concerned about retaliation. So silly that this cyber bullying is going on. I'm tired of people acting like children. We have to set the example as adults. No kind of bullying is okay

Unknown said...

Great post Carol. Too many people are willing to bash others. The mob mentality sucks. People need to learn to lay off each other and respect each other.

B Snow said...

I need to be braver about this kind of thing, but I'm always a day or three behind, so I feel too uninformed to voice an opinion, even if I were brave enough to do it.

I had a friend on livejournal who was the victim of fandom wank over something she wrote IN HER OWN JOURNAL. She had to set it to private after the nasty reactions she got, including threats. Other people joined in just because they heard about the brouhaha and felt the need to weigh in when it really didn't involve them in any way.

I guess it's due to the internet's anonymity, but does it also have something to do with the amount of drama young people seem to have in their lives? I have young friends and they can go so ballistic over things that roll off my back now and might have done even when I was their age. They get so worked up. Is it the flip-side of enthusiasm -- if you can love so, so much, you can also hate so, so much?

Anyway, good post. Good to keep in mind the golden rule of respect.

Sue Brown said...

Hey Carol,

You are polite and a lady as ever. No name-calling, just an honest assessment of their behaviour.

These people enjoy creating a storm in the teacup. It is their raison d'etre. Unfortunately for those caught in the crosshairs, they wonder if the whole world is against them.

You know the good thing that comes out of this? You know who the slugs are, and who are the gems. There are authors and other so-called professionals I won't bother with the time of day, and others that have shown themselves to be wonderful people.

I have the same fear, and the same worry of hurting my career. I also have the same buying power as all readers. It all balances out.

You stand tall, gorgeous lady.

C. Zampa said...

Amen, BL!

C. Zampa said...

You're right, Sarah.
It's so easy to do...fear of not fitting in, I guess.
The only way, I suppose, they ever realize what they've done is the bashers suddenly become bashees. Because it always DOES make full circle and you'd think they remembered that.

C. Zampa said...

B. Snow, what a good thought. Why can't they love as much as they hate? Why, it takes no energy at all in loving, but bitterness on the other hand depletes precious energy. Wastes so much time.

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Sue B., your points are SO right-on.
And it does for sure separate the slugs from the gems, doesn't it?
And, oh, yes, thanks for reminding us...WE have buying power as much as anyone else does. Oh, thank you, thank you. We sure do!

Perpetua said...

You are such a true lady Carol as always! You express your thoughts so beautifully. I think i know of the storm to which you refer(it'd sad to say that I could be wrong!) and I did actually comment at the start of this on someone's GR review just to say that I was not bothered by it one way or the other. However I relised that it wasn't just banter between friends and the review quickly turned into....something else! I find myself a little sick and tired of this 'mob mentality' that I seem to keep running into in this genre.

I have started to withdraw a lot in the last few months simply because I am to outspoken and I find sometimes it's better to say nothing at all!

C. Zampa said...

I'm too outspoken, too, Perpetua, and it's the hardest thing in the world to stifle my feelings. And I did for some time. But just could not anymore.

And you know, you are such a vital force in the community...always such a bright presence. So I am sorry that this sort of junk would has gotten bad and vicious enough to cause you to withdraw.

The world needs to see more of smiles such as yours and less of the hissing and clawing.


Belinda M. said...

Carol, there is one cardinal rule in surviving this community: Do. Not. Engage. Taking them on as a group is impossible.

Like me, many other writers have said this over and over, and yet I keep seeing authors throw themselves onto the bonfire of the bloggers and "that" site, adding fuel to the fire of their self-rightous bad-assery. Don't do it. Don't go there. I finally left one of my author's loops because when a few of us who have been around the block a few times say that, we are universally ignored. I get tired of watching authors throw themselves against the wall over something so mean, petty and ultimately small and ugly. When we do that, we give them validity.

Our community tends to have an explosive temperment and a short memory. We leap from issue to issue, from one cause to another. I've been baited and attacked by these same people. I ignored it and it pretty much went away when the next scandal came along.

You can't have a war if no one comes.

But damn, it's hard and it hurts.
I don't go to those blogs, they do little to elevate and I'm not going to give them my traffic for their counter. Plus, I get tired of biting my tongue all the time! I don't worry about checking my reviews and ratings at GR. My career doesn't hinge on them. Besides, that's a site for readers. When I encounter one of those people elsewhere, especially one of those who've tried to tear me down, I'm pleasant. Reminds them that under the pen name, I'm human.

Just do your job. Keep writing. Interact with your readers and peers but when something happens, don't engage. Write to the person who happens to be the victim of the day and offer your support privately. Keep chatting with them on FB and on loops. I'm not saying ignore it, I'm saying that we should rise above it and normalize kindness, professionalism and good manners.

When it happened to me, few people were aware because I didn't take the bait. But those who were aware made it better by simply giving me a virtual pat on the back. Those who participated in the ugliness...all four of them...well, I know who they are. Even the one who eventually erased her comment. LOL!

Time wounds all heels.

C. Zampa said...

Thanks for you thoughts, Belinda.

I feel comfortable in believing I didn't attempt to engage anyone by blogging my feelings.

And I've never commented on their blogs. And, truthfully, there is not just one blog or site I've even addressed, and no person. I was not part of the melee that took place a while back. It was only one of many. Too many to count.

We all have to do what our hearts tell us. And speaking my heart on this issue was not directed at anyone in particular or to defend anyone.

And I don't imagine myself as a warrior against such childishness. Because it IS too childish to put on armor and fight. I refuse to waste the energy for an undying entity. LOL...

I've said how I feel, and I'm content to have gotten it out of my system, to make my one and only stand.

And I DO agree with you, now that I've unburdened myself, I intend to do nothing but write.

And I also 100% agree with you in 'do not engage'. Commenting and arguing such minds is futile. I'd rather, as you say, write.

Again, thanks for visiting and thank you for your thoughts.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Shish, I missed something, and that's because I've been stuck painting the inside of our house. I have the painted hair and swollen fingers to prove it. Did you know that an onion sawed in half gets rid of paint smell? The house now reeks of onions.

Bullying is disgusting. I used to get beat up regularly when I was a kid for sticking up for those getting beaten. I grew up on a farm. It was actually reverse psychology on my part. I loved the fear I could instill in these girls when I caught them picking on one of the little guys. Didn't even have to be a friend, just a possible victim.

I was about 15 when I realized what I was doing. I came across 3 girls picking on this little thing from grade eight. I can't explain exactly what happened, except my rage scared the hell out of me. And the complete fear in the eyes of those 3 stopped me dead in my tracks. In a flash I saw what I was, a monster in disguise.

What's really bizarre is the entire metamorphosis prepared me for the rearing of 5 very rambunctious sons. In our neighbourhood, I was known as the "Calm Mrs. B"

Great post, Carol. Sorry I'm late. I had to turn off the computer while we were painting the dining room. Yes, I suffered greatly. LOL

C. Zampa said...

Oh...Joylene!! Hey!!

That is so interesting about you and the bullies. Your heart was in the right place, though, in protect mode for those who couldn't defend themselves.

Glad you got the painting done! Now rest and..well..write!! LOL..