First off, let me apologise for my absence. I’ve had a wicked kidney infection that makes sitting at my desk nigh unto impossible. And I really really loathe blogging on my mobile devices. So now that I have six readers left, I guess I get to shriek my opinion at those people.
I found out yesterday that for the last several days there has been this article floating around the author world about authors giving reviews. It’s by Kristen Lamb, and you can google it. I’m not linking it because…wait and see.
I’ve been blogging for nine years now; I’ve been reading blogs for more than a decade. In the early days every blog had a fairly wide reach in that it was possible to draw in folks of varied interest. Dooce was followed by nearly every reader of blogs.
Blogs have now become extremely niche oriented. It started with “Mommy blogs”–bloggers who wrote about their experiences as a mother for other mothers. A lot of those Mommy Bloggers were able to exploit their visibility into cash and prizes and soon much of mommy blogging was a contest to see who could net the most swag. What had once been about finding a voice and a community had transformed into pitching and enriching oneself. That is the iteration of blogging I absolutely despise. It’s self-interest coated in avarice. It’s not a conversation it’s a commercial.
That attitude is at the root of what caused me to pull back from blogging and it’s what causes me to avoid blog affinity groups like the plague. I admit freely that I’m a writer, but I don’t want to be a writer who is always and primarily talking to other writers about my writing. I have a blog to express myself as a person, to engage in conversation with interesting people who challenge me, to exercise my mind against new and different ideas and against new views of old ideas. Sometimes I will–like today–talk about professional writing. But it’s not WHY I have a blog and it’s not what this blog is about.
I’m less than not at all interested in renting space in the echo chamber. That’s why this idea from Kristen Lamb about how “authors should never give less than fully positive reviews to books” is so grating to me. I may publish my book someday. I hope so, but I don’t overdrive my headlights. I’ve always written and told stories for myself; I’ve always read. And that’s how I review books. I don’t review books as a jaded pitchman, always selling, selling, selling myself. There’s still a lot of Lloyd Dobbler in me. I want to connect with people, to be honest with people. I’m direct and upfront; I hate passive-aggressiveness with a passion. If I don’t like something, I’ll say so. (One of the side benefits of years of blogging is that I have learned to say so in a kinder way.)
The vast majority of comments on that other blog are of the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” school of thought. Many of them pat themselves on the back for having such a gracious position in life–and then go on to slag off some author who was just dreadful but weren’t they nice to keep it to themselves? That to me is abhorrent beyond all measure. Because as much as they think they’re being kind, they’re being kind with one face, catty with another. That’s not “nice”. That’s bitchy. Plain and simple. More than that, it’s a selfish attitude that says “my self-interest as an author in this echo chamber of other authors is in my books and my sales of my books.” It isn’t about craft or the love of reading. It’s that Glengarry Glen Ross abomination of Always Be Closing.
I didn’t link to Lamb’s article because I don’t want to be part of the echo chamber. I’m not here to sell my book, I’m here to be honest.