The further you journey into the world of literature, the more you become aware of just how ‘bitchy’ so-called armchair critics can be.
To the average avid reader the aforementioned notion doesn’t even enter their minds as they are happily drawn into the story they are reading and the characters that inhabit it.
But, when that reader becomes an author, the literary rules of engagement take on a sinister new aspect. You become the immediate target of mindboggling invective and bile, usually aimed at your work from a group of people on open forums who hide behind avatars and pseudonyms. These people (I use the word ‘people’ here simply because they are fellow human beings) are semi-literate individuals who lock themselves away from the world and reality in their bedrooms.
While I cannot speak for writers in languages other than my own, I firmly believe that we all need to stand shoulder to shoulder defending one another from this constant barrage by these cowards who believe that what they are saying actually matters.
I experienced just such an attack last year when my first novel finally appeared for sale on a major book purchasing online site.
In all innocence I started a ‘reader’s comment thread’ on the site for anyone who had taken the time to buy and read the end product of all my, and my editor’s hard work, simply for feedback.
Oh boy, what a fool I was!
Within a few hours the thread was bombarded with a level of pure hatred and vile comments from those shadowy individuals across the planet. Thankfully my editor came to my rescue and took most of them to task, unfortunately re-directing their vicious attack towards himself.
What really got to me was the fact that none of them had actually bought and read the novel from cover to cover. Instead they had used the free downloadable sample chapter as ammunition for their vicious attack.
Since that unfortunate incident I no longer participate in any kind of ‘public forum’.
I now belong to a writers group set up by my publisher where any criticism about my work, and there is a lot, is constructive, not destructive. Both myself and my publishers learned a bitter lesson from my innocent delving into ‘open forums’.
Is it any wonder that so few authors are willing to participate in any form of public debate of their work, when the literary equivalent of low life muggers are hiding in the shadows of the internet poised to strike?
I think not.