"What happens to me is that I seize upon an issue in the news—the issue is the moral/philosophical, political/intellectual equivalent of a cheeseburger with everything on it; but for the duration of my interest in it, all my other interests are consumed by it, and whatever appetites and capacities I may have had for detachment and reflection are suddenly subordinate to this cheeseburger in my life!"--John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
There's a thread over at Absolute Write that could be titled 'Authors Behaving Badly.' I want to look away, but God help me, I can't, I'm drawn to it like a moth to a streetlamp. I read it and follow links to the sordid underbelly of author behavior. In the last couple of weeks, I've seen one author liken bad reviews (from fellow authors only; they seem to be okay coming from readers) to bad behavior that must be 'punished'. He responded to a two-star review of his book (and it was actually pretty positive, for a two-star review) by giving her one star, without even reading her book. We've seen two or more authors band together and form a website designed to unmask so-called gangs of Goodreads bully reviewers who are apparently conspiring to humiliate writers; and, also from the world of Goodreads, there was a meltdown of epic proportions this very weekend, with the author outing himself as seriously unstable at best, and potentially dangerous at worst. In his case, he tried to disguise the real issue—revenge over a relationship gone sour—with a diatribe against book reviewers.
And me? I read it all. I don't have a Goodreads account, yet I waded through GR blog posts and hundreds of comments over two days. I couldn't help myself. Like John Wheelwright in A Prayer for Owen Meany, I found my cheeseburger and couldn't stop eating it.
I don't feel good about this, either for what it says about me (and the hundreds of AW'ers who take an almost-unhealthy pleasure in these meltdowns) or about the authors in question, who respond to any sort of negativity with a stomp reflex. I'm going to try to stay away from it in the future. Really, I am.
While I will try to keep out of those threads (or at least not follow the links all over the blogosphere), I'm not done with this topic. There are a lot of issues to explore wrapped up in this. It's just not firm enough in my mind right now for me to really state where I'm at, except that I really need to stop reading these threads. Only now, I can't--I have some research to do.