Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Among Writers)

Fellow writer/blogger Eve (The Desert Rocks) recently wrote about an unpleasant expeince she'd had at a writers conference. Though I've always enjoyed the conferences myself, I can't say I'm surprised by Eve's experience. Writers have always seemed to me to fall into two groups: those who are unfailingly supportive of each other, and those who are all about themselves. Eve's experience was clearly with the latter.

Some authors, no matter how much success they achieve, are always insecure. They're afraid someone new will come along who will eclipse them--make more money than they do, have better numbers than they do, be more popular than they are--so they snipe at each other. They tear each other down. And they're judgmental. We all make mistakes. They use those mistakes against each other like weapons. Makes me think of that Bible passage about casting stones....

These are the users, the writers who want others to support them, to read their books and their blogs and recommend them to everyone--but give nothing in return. "Buy my  book, give m
e good reviews, tell your friends about me, help me promote my stuff. Just don't expect anything from me in return. I don't have time to read your books, let alone comment on them. And if I take advantage of you, just smile and keep putting out the good word--after all, it's an honor to serve me. Can't you see that?"

The smart writer realizes that success for one is good for all of us. When any author develops a healthy following, people are buying and reading books. Which means they're going to be buying and reading more books. Other writers' books. For those who still want to be traditionally published, remember this: another author's monster success means the publisher has money to invest in new writers. Maybe you.

I've known a few from the Dark Side--one in particular comes to mind. She was smart, funny, fun to be around--but she'd sell her own mother into the white slave trade for a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. She didn't mind using others, including those who were supposedly her friends. A group of writers in Kansas City gave her a most unflattering ego-inspired nickname. Her career took a downward turn--two publishers dropped her. She didn't get the support she would have gotten from the writers community that would have been there, had she not been so self-centered.  

I've been fortunate in that I had a great group of friends during my time in traditional publishing, and I have the best, most supportive writer friends anyone could want now. William, Beth, Donna, Karla, Mike, Mark, Christina, Eve, Shelly, April, Robb, Nicole, Cathy, Kyle (if I've forgotten anyone, I apologize)'s wishing the best for all of you. I will cheer each of your successes as I would cheer for my own!

Now, guys, if you want to have fun at a writers' conference, we should all go together.... 


  1. Norma, sounds like the field of education. I guess wherever human ambition exists, people are cruel. Thanks for sharing a positive perspective and story. Your post encouraged me.

  2. Deifinitely!!! Well done! Support is so key, and you've shown that to me, and to others. I have never been to a writers conference (I'm not sure that they have them around here), but as I told Eve, I believe you're right about going to them with 'friends', think of all the good times you can have later! I love you, Norma! You're the best!

  3. I look forward to the day we can all go to the same writer's conference. Thank you for mentioning me. I consider it a priviledge to know so many fine writers/people and so supportive.
    Too bad other writers don't understand that there is more than enough room for all of us.

  4. Thank you Norma for the lovely post about my harrowing experience. I didn't go alone, but the excited "newbie" I came with left the conference early and stopped writing completely based on the negative comments made about memoirs at the time. On the positive side, I did get to meet others after he left who told me they were insulted and hurt by some of the critique groups and one particular agent's blatant disregard for civility and kindness. One of these new friends is very busy and will be self publishing a book soon. He will be one of my betas.
    I realize writer's are generally introverted folks who probably wouldn't want to be in crowds discussing their "babies", but a writer's conference needs to be organized with a little tender, psychological pampering...because even if the attendees are lame-ass horrible writers they are still paying customers at the event.
    I promise that if I ever attend again, I will make sure some or all of you will come with me and meet me there! Thanks again Norma. I am so happy and honored to call you a friend!

  5. I'm blushing. :-)

    This reminds me of a great saying: "We stand taller with someone on our shoulders."

    My goal is to be successful, but that is so I can use that success to draw attention to the talented authors out there that may not necessarily have gotten the attention they deserve yet. Who cares about material things anyway. Matter is mostly empty space and the pursuit of those things, especially at the expense of others, is just as empty as the atom itself, maybe even more so.

  6. Thanks for posting this. For some it just comes naturally to be supportive of others and it seems I have found that group! Thanks!

  7. I missed that post by Eve. I'll have to check it out! I've heard things like that a lot on WD and I just don't get it. I love the support of other writers (especially if they're more successful than I am), because it's so inspiring. And only other writers/artists can understand what it's like to have that artistic need for expression. It's also very helpful to share resources. And like you said, you have to reciprocate!

  8. Thank you so much for mentioning me, Norma. You've consistently proven to be an inspiration and source of encouragement to other writers. I'm so grateful to be able to count you as a friend.

  9. Thanks to all of you. I'm the lucky one to have all of you.

    I believe very strongly that we should all support each other. Sure, we occasionally encounter one who will try to take advantage, but they're few and far between. They're the ones I won't hesitate to withdraw my support from.

  10. Extremely well said, Norma. I don't really understand the 'me' mentality when it comes to authors, but think you're exactly right in your assessments. I also agree that we should all go to a conference together and show people how to have a good time! :-)

    Also wanted to say thanks for wishing me a happy birthday. Always appreciate it!


  11. Outstanding blog, and very well said, Norma! You've been such a great friend and support. I think a bunch of us at a writer's conference would be a whole lot of fun!

  12. When I was in Boston for a conference, a group of us got a large suite with a kitchenette and a common area. We had a ball there!

  13. Thanks again Norma, for your confident support.


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