Ever So Slightly....Hacked off

Stacked Books

It’s been a pretty busy few weeks and I’ve not had a lot of time to write and if I am honest, I haven’t been feeling a lot like it recently. I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with how people communicate in the digital world. I have noticed over the last few weeks how quick people are to jump to the negative, criticising others, berating people for success and generally being disrespectful.

What happened to being respectful of others? Why do people feel that it’s ok to openly criticise someone whom they have never met? Is it because people feel they can say anything they want from behind a computer, that they don’t have to look a person in the eye when being, in some cases pretty damned rude? Is it because comments can so easily be taken out of context and people quickly jump to the defensive?

I am at a loss as to why people seem happy to be so negative all the time. If someone is successful it seems they have to face a barrage of criticism from the internet experts who sit behind their computers, feeling it appropriate to condemn someone for doing well. Why can’t we look at people’s success, say well done, even be happy for them and if we don’t agree with something, look for the lesson we can learn from it.

To give you an example, as someone who is trying to write more, I am engaged in a number of forums for aspiring writers. Over the past few weeks I have witnessed a number of groups berating E.L. James for her success with Grey and the 50 Shades trilogy. There has been a lot of negativity aimed at her writing, her success and her general existence as a writer and I for one find it difficult to stomach.

There are a number of people who condemn her writing, the genre and the overall success of the books in general and why is this? Ok, so she is no Charles Dickens, but so what, why does she need to be? Her books have engaged millions in a way that most writers would surely aspire to do. Does it really matter if she hasn’t written a literary masterpiece? Absolutely not! Why does something have to be technically perfect for someone to be considered a success? Frankly, I have read some of the literary masters and I was bored to tears!

I am a fan of the trilogy and have read the new book Grey, I have read them all more than once and probably will again. Why? Because I enjoyed the story she told, the strong characters she created and I became invested in the story, genuinely enjoying what she had written. Did I read the book from a technical perspective? No. Did I read with a critical eye? No. Did I enjoy the book, like millions of others? Yes. In fact I read the trilogy in 3 days, I couldn’t put it down.

However, if I were to say this openly in a writing forum, I would probably be shot down in flames, as there seems to be a large number of people in the writing community that feel very strongly about the books and the way they were written. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am all for an honest debate about something, however what I object to is the way that people get personal, make judgements and are downright rude. Why can’t we look at the success of people and learn something from it?

I am no expert on this subject, however what E.L. James has done is engage millions of people the world over with a story that spoke to them in some way. It has created a reaction, both good and bad, got people speaking about writing, helped other writers of this genre gain success and created a brand for herself. Could she improve her writing technically, of course, but what writer couldn’t? I admire her success and strive to think a little differently about the way I write my novel as a result. My aim is to create a story that genuinely engages my readers, that has them reading to the end of the book and looking for more. That is the lesson I have learned from E.L. James and I thank her for that. I also hope she continues to write more in the Grey series, in fact I look forward to her next book.

To anyone who is reading this I would like to say one thing. At the end of every message or comment is a person. More than likely a person who is already very critical of what they do, fearful of their work being out in the world and probably hurt by the negativity thrown their way. All I ask is that people try to think a little before they comment, think about how your words can impact the person receiving them, be respectful in your comments and be constructive with your criticism.

There is enough negativity in the world, maybe if we could change our perspective a little, be a little nicer to one another and not be quite so quick to judge, have a little more thought in what we put out there, the world would be a slightly better place to be.

And sometimes, as my mother used to say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

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