I’m not one to post about controversial stuff. I avoid religion and political topics for the most part. But there’s something that’s been really bugging me today.
There was a post over on ScienceFiction.com about an interview with Tracy Hickman at AnomalyCon. I’m sure it wasn’t purposeful, but the piece made Tracy appear to be whining about the old days and how tough it was now to make a living. The context of the quotes were missing vital information to understand what he was discussing. Again, I don’t believe it was purposeful, but it did portray Tracy in a negative light.
The story was picked up by the Passive Guy. With the usual non-confrontational style he uses, he just posted it for commenting. Some of those comments, however, made me a tad upset. Joe Konrath also posted a blog about it, and he was also quite rational, including noting in the comments that there was most likely missing context, as posted by Betsy and I.
Some folks were rude, some were dismissive of Tracy’s decades of work and success, and some didn’t even know who he was, but they felt it important that their opinion of the old dinosaur bitching about how it was ages ago was worth posting.
In all, it was the standard Internet reaction… <sarcasm> “Hey, we can pick on this person because whatever this website over here said must be the complete and utter truth.” </sarcasm>
In this case, they’re being negative without full information to someone who is, through and through, a genuinely nice man who goes out of his way to teach, help, mentor, and guide folks who ask. Anyone, no matter if they’re self-pubbed, traditionally pubbed, getting into gaming, etc. He’s been through the trenches with his wife and occasional co-author, Laura, and they’re always available to answer questions or point someone in the right direction.
Tracy Hickman deserves not only respect, but at least a modicum of the benefit of a doubt when it comes to quotes taken out of their original context. His interview, conducted by the brilliant Betsy Dornbusch, went through some of his work and through how words can impact the reader. He told a story, which I’ve heard several times but which still has an impact, where a wounded combat veteran met him on a military base. It’s a very personal story for Tracy, and one that left many folks in the audience with watery eyes.
Tracy also went through some of his writing advice for authors. He lets folks know about things without sugar-coating it. He made sure that the audience knew that it’s a never-ending battle to be noticed…to be read by the folks who still buy books. Even he struggles to get stuff out there. He’s done self-pub, traditional, and even kickstarted a new gaming system, Sojourner Tales. He’s constantly working and innovating, and he even says he struggles in this economic environment. It’s not an easy job, writing for a living.
Was it a whine-fest? Not at all. He doesn’t pull punches when people ask questions. He did say he is concerned about the decline in bookstores, which I agree with. I own two Kindles, a Nook, and a Kobo. I purchased three books just today — purchased, not found in the freebie bin. I read almost daily from my ebook reader, but I still personally prefer reading in dead tree format, either paperback or hardcover. Again, personal preference. Your tastes may vary, and I respect that.
So, I would ask folks to not always jump to conclusions from a random post. There’s always…ALWAYS…more to the story. If someone posted something negative about you, wouldn’t you hope folks would give you the benefit of a doubt and not post unflattering things? If I read something about you, and I didn’t know you personally, I would refrain from posting negative stuff because I know you have your side to the story. Quotes are relayed all the time without their context. In my opinion, people start off with some respect from me built-in. Whether it goes up or down depends on them…not a third party relaying their opinion of something that happened somewhere.
Of course, your opinion may vary. And I respect that.