It’s time again. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and time for another offering to Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (#IWSG). Here’s where we share and encourage each other, as we write about our fears and weaknesses, discuss our failures and triumphs, and offer words of encouragement to others out there who struggle like we do. Sometimes, we use it to vent our frustrations with the things that devil writers’ lives. If you’d like to be a part of this group, check out the link above.
This month, I’d like to briefly address the know-it-alls, bullies, and trolls out there who seem to have a mission of making everyone else’s lives as miserable as I imagine there are. We’ve all encountered them. They’re the ‘expert’ at the gym who just has to show you how to properly exercise, despite only being a member for a week longer than you, or the ‘helpful’ person at the golf course who feels an obligation to critique the golf swing of a total stranger. If you’re a writer, you’re particularly vulnerable to this type of person, and even though I used three labels at the beginning of this paragraph, that was just for literary effect. In fact, these are just bullies; people who never outgrew the urge to pull the wings off flies.
Where can you encounter them as a writer? I’ve mentioned them a few times in previous blogs. They’re the reviewers who pan your work in the most strident of terms, or who slam you as a writer without showing any evidence that they’ve ever really read it. They’re like the reviewer who slammed a book because she felt the regional dialect of a couple of the characters insulted them; ignoring the fact that in that particular passage, this is precisely what the author was aiming for—for the specific characters, not a particular group. If, like me, you write book review—and I read a lot, so why not—you’re still likely, no you’re sure, to encounter this type. There are those who will attack you because they don’t like the rating you gave something they liked or hated, because your rating betrays a particular political or social leaning they find offensive, etc.
They’re out there, and the Internet has increased their reach. They can now pull the wings off flies from across the globe, and do it anonymously. So, how do you handle them? It’s not easy. No one likes to repeatedly turn the other cheek. Especially when it’s being verbally slapped. But, Mark Twain said it well – “Never argue with stupid people. They will only bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience.