Now that I have my own web page, I think I will start saying things I feel strongly about. I know some of my posts will rub people the wrong way, but perhaps the times I have bitten my tongue are starting to wear thin on me. I have allowed myself to be a punching bag because I have feared reprisal in the form of losing book sales (which, as I have shared, is how I make a living and support my family). Recently I realized that I have weathered the storms that come with every new release (that is when the hatred spews in the greatest volume). Over the past four and a half years since I came home, I have formed some strong bonds with people who have taken the time to actually get to know the REAL me. So, maybe it is time to stop just ignoring things that get under my skin. I can bare my soul to you, right?
With that said…
We live life with filters in place that allow us to usually see ourselves as “good” or decent. In a conflict, we are just standing up for ourselves or acting in a way that is justified in response to how we are treated. Those filters make it easy for us to point fingers at others or feel good by putting ne’er-do-wells in their proper place
What if we had our actions our on display for the casual observer to see? I am a firm believer in there being two sides to every argument. It is also possible for both sides to be right AND wrong. How often has a friend, loved one, colleague, or family member come to you with a story of how they have been wronged? If you know BOTH parties, that can put you in quite a pickle. If you know only one, then it is very easy to take sides. The question is…are you backing the right horse, or are you enabling somebody’s bad behavior?
Case in point. I was working for an unnamed author as an editor. (NO, I will not name names, please do not ask.) I had been approached by that person, and we struck a deal. Later, this person was attacked on social media for doing business with me. I gave the person an easy out, saying that my mud did not belong on their shoes and I was okay with it.
I remained a fan of this writer and was okay with the situation. When the next book came out, I grabbed it and was cringing by the first page. I contacted the person and pointed out some very basic errors and suggested the writer perhaps find another editor, this one was not doing a very good job. (NO, I am not saying that I am perfect…far from it. However, I do feel I am above average.) It just so happened that this writer and I were at a convention when we had this conversation. I was asked to return as an editor and we both agreed that it did not have to be made public, for me, it was simply a source of income (plus I got to read some really cool books before they were available to the public).
As many of you know, I recently had a trailer made for my DEAD series, I put out the word for writers I admire as well as some of my fans to perhaps offer a blurb that would go on the trailer. The responses I got were wonderful. Three writers I am a HUGE fan of were included in the trailer (Eli Constant, Rhonda Hopkins, and Claire Riley). I approached the writer I work for as an editor and heard nothing for quite a while, the response I got was:
“Hey Todd, Listen man I am truly sorry for taking so long to respond. I had to do some soul searching here. I admit when I first got your request for a blurb I was a little taken aback. We kind of have this secret relationship and I felt like the line was being crossed. Then I sat back and I was like ‘holy shit I’m an asshole’. It really was an eye opening feeling to realize just how big a douche I’ve been, I’ve been using your skill and talent and giving you none of the credit. I’m not proud of my actions, it was just easier I guess, you give a great product at a great price and this way my boat doesn’t get rocked. Todd I can’t do that anymore it rings hollow in my psyche to show one face to the world but yet not be that man. I have no hard feelings for you and I hope that you feel the same way towards me but as of now I would like to move on. I sincerely thank you for all of your hard work.”
There are two sides to this story, you see this person’s, and then there is mine. Mine was, people who hate me are not going to watch the trailer. The trailer might be a treat for my lovers of the DEAD series, but it is really about bringing in new readers. A few words credited to this writer would likely never be realized by that core group who dislike me so much as they would certainly not be checking out my promo.
If I was watching this on screen…would I be the jerk who put this person in an uncomfortable spot? Or, would I be seen as the “booty call” editor who is good enough behind closed doors, but certainly not somebody to be seen with in public?
I will say that I am pretty much on my own when it comes to promotion. The “Big Zombie Author” book tours don’t include me because some people promise to quit if I am included. Certain blogs won’t feature anything that mentions my name. I am not “skipping” these events, I am simply being excluded. I would jump at the opportunities, but the last one ended with the organizer almost in tears as they said they were being harassed and threatened. I made it very clear to that individual that I was withdrawing and that they should not feel bad. Since then, I have just done this on my own. Hell, one author even had to remove the cover blurb I gave (I was asked and gladly offered) when they were given a ration of grief.
I get it, people have a conception about what they think they know. The interesting fact is that I have always been open to meeting people in public and answering their direct questions while looking them in the eye. To date, every one of the people who have spoken with me in person have come away a supporter. This person re-hired me after a face-to-face meeting because of what they heard when they asked direct questions and got to look me in the eye during my answers. Of course I was fired again after the whole trailer thing…
The point I am making is that every story has two sides. Many of us go off half-cocked when we hear something negative. My experience has taught me to understand that there is always another side. I can easily paint myself as a victim, but am I really? Or am I the villain?
It may be very hard, but the next time you are caught in the middle…try to take a step back and see things from BOTH points of view. Hell, step back from your own actions and put yourself at the receiving end. It might not be pretty, but if you teach yourself to accept that there is a bigger picture and you are only seeing a fraction of it, it may keep you from stepping on a landmine. Remember, there are always two sides to a story. You usually only have (at most) half the information. Is that the standard that YOU are prepared to be judged by?
ADMISSION: I am aware that even this post will be seen through a filter. There will be some who see it as wallowing in self-pity and others who see it as a very pointed editorial on rushing to judgement. I am okay with both verdicts. Recently I have been asked to participate in podcasts and even a possible upcoming book blog tour. I have gotten tired of warning people away, but, by the same token, I am also tired of being “un-invited” after the organizer gets a bunch of grief. I am saying for the record that I will participate if asked, but be prepared for the “I just thought you should know…” messages which I find funny since I have been as transparent as any person could be (much more so than damn near anybody else, I can bet). What do your REALLY know about that person you are a fan of and love to read? For that matter, what do you REALLY know about me? My wife has a saying, “Before you hate the monster, meet the monster.” But, I guess it is just easier to spew hate and point a finger.