Monday, February 09, 2009

Oh, Man. Why'd She Have to Go and Do That?

I know that writers are only human. They have limits, just like the rest of us, and when those limits are pushed, they break. And because of the public nature of their chosen profession, when a writer experiences one of these messy implosions, it is witnessed by many. Complete strangers can then poke their noses into the fray, commenting and inciting and generally stirring up trouble. Pretty soon, a full-blown broohaha has erupted and there's no telling what the aftermath might bring.

This reality sucks, but as they say in the truck driving industry, them's the brakes.

I've remarked before of when I thought a writer reacted poorly to extreme amounts of criticism heaped upon her lastest bit of genius. Now I'm sad to see that one of my all time favorite writers, Suzanne Brockmann, has fallen victim to too much criticism. Because that's the only thing I can imagine would cause her to go so completely out of line.

It seems that too many readers have taken exception to Brockmann's latest, Dark of Night, in which the couple that many had assumed would find their HEA did not, in fact, end up together. (Instead, Sophie and Decker found their happinesses with others.) Many readers who had been following their saga over the course of many books were. not. happy. And as unhappy readers will do, they've launched into five hundred verses of "Your book sucks" in such a way that Brockmann apparently couldn't tune out the noise.

A sidebar: I, myself, had no problem with the way things ended up. I wasn't so invested in these characters that I had any issue with the ultimate pairings that occurred in DON. I had some other issues with DON, but nothing that would cause me to hate on Brockmann publicly.

Anyway, it seems that Brockmann's tolerance for the vocal complaints against DON reached the boiling point at a fairly low temperature, and she shifted into Fangirls Only mode on her message board, banning those who harshed on the book in any way. My thoughts on that - immature, a form of censorship, and an expression of a some level of egotism. BUT - it's her sandbox, and she can play with whomever she wants. I tend to avoid the MBs of writers because I find them very scary places.

Then, however, Brockmann took her frustrations to a more public playground, and now I can't ignore what I perceive is at the best, unprofessionalism and at the worst, behaviour that means I can no longer divorce the writer from the writing.

You can read the post yourself and formulate your own opinions. But what I took away from this, besides a sad realization that Brockmann really doesn't hold her readers in very high esteem (at least those of us who turn to the internet on a regular basis, romance sites specifically), is that she will assign any - ANY - dissatisfaction any person has with any of her writing as nothing less heinous than homophobia.

If you think the heroine acted TSTL? You must hate gay people. If you found the plot full of problems and holes? Closet homophobe. If you didn't think the main couple had any chemistry and were disappointed in how their relationship unfolded? Stupid homophobe. If you got clues out of her stories that led you to think one thing only to find things changed in ways you didn't understand? Stupid, ignorant homophobe.

My affront to this implication is kind of funny given I'm not in any way homophobic. My love for Jules Cassidy is complete, and I've always thought Brockmann a hero for the way she stood up for her son, risked her career by following a path that would turn most romance writers purple with fear, and has never once caved to the haters of the world. I should be able to say to myself that, given that I didn't hate DON and that I'm not anti-gay, her remarks did not apply to me.

Yet, I'm still insulted. Because she's refusing to own her work, warts and all. She's refusing to acknowledge that some people out there might have valid reasons for their disappointment. She's acting like the person who cries racism/sexism/xenophobia for every single problem they have ever experienced in life. She's painting herself as a victim of Evil People With an Ulterior Agenda. Because she now has an Excuse for why people don't like her stuff, she doesn't have to try very hard, does she? It's not her. It's everyone else.

Too, by painting everyone who disagrees with her with the same brush, she's showing herself to be the worst form of hypocrite. She decries those who judge people who are outside the mainstream (i.e., homosexual), yet she'll judge me (and other readers) simply because we disagree with her on some point.
With her remarks, she has shown that she will reduce me from an intelligent person capable of forming thoughts and opinions based on my likes, dislikes, personal experiences, and multiple other factors to someone who is either A Fan or a A Homophobe based on my opinion of her latest book.

Real fair, that.

Now I'm in a quandry. Generally I'm capable of divorcing the writer from his or her writing. I can fully accept that not everyone holds the same beliefs that I do, and that to deny myself a good story because I might not think the same way politically as the writer is kind of stupid.

But in this instance, it's not a matter of different beliefs that gives me pause. Nor is it a matter of me not being able to enjoy the stories Brockmann tells, because this doesn't change the fact that she's a good writer. It's more a matter of not wanting to give my money to someone who will accuse me of homophobia if I fail to love every word that comes out of her word processor.

I have an issue when the writer reaches through the fourth wall and smacks me across the face.

ETA: I have since had time to reread the question/reply post that inspired all of this, and I do need to admit that Brockmann did not say that ALL of those who disliked or had issue with DON are probably homophobes. She did say that some might have issue with the book not because of the character pairing, plot or story issues, etc. but because they have issues with her personal politics. Some, not all. So in essence, my above rant is also in the extreme.

Even so, I do think this entire fiasco has brought out a side of an author that I'd rather have not seen.

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