February 26, 2014

How I let drama get the best of me: Lynn Shepherd vs. JK Rowling

***Note I wrote this yesterday and only decided to publish it today.***

As I started to write this, I wondered if I’d ever even post it or if it’d just sit in draft-form, or if it’d get deleted altogether just because I REALLY hate drama. But this is something that I seriously need to vent about. Whether it’s publicly or to myself, but I’ve got to get this all out in writing.

This rant is about Lynn Shepherd’s article on Huffington Post UK, titled “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” I’m not going to leave a link because it’s easy enough to find.

First off, I absolutely cannot stand drama. Especially when that drama is initiated in a negative way because it brings out the worst in people. Me included. It’s the very reason I’ve stayed away from watching social media feeds, but this one was too hard to avoid as it’s something I’m very passionate about.

Second, I want to talk about how I reacted. When I first read the post Sunday night it really bothered me, so much so that I sent a text to a friend about it, and I’m pretty sure I also woke my mom up to talk about it. And then the next morning it started to absolutely consume me. I became extremely angry and I didn’t know where to release this anger. Of course, since this anger was consuming me, the worst thing for me to do was follow it on twitter. BAD MINDY!

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot lately about how words can be uplifting and inspiring, but also how words can also be poison to a person. And the person speaking the poison might not even know that their words are poison to someone else. Well Lynn’s words were poison to me and I’ll explain why later, but I want to first talk about what I did wrong after reading Lynn’s post.

I first tried multiple times (without success) to post a comment on her post. But because the post was getting so much attention (I think!), it didn’t work for me. So the next morning I went searching for her, and, lo and behold, she has published books and they are in the same genre that JK Rowling is now marketing in. This all started to make sense now! Jealousy got the best of Lynn Shepherd. And anger then got the best of me as I then decided to give Lynn my 2 cents-worth on twitter by saying, ”I'm sorry @Lynn_Shepherd that envy of JK Rowlings success consumes your life, but u destroyed ur own by bashing people that read her books” and, “@Lynn_Shepherd didn't you ever stop to think that maybe JK Rowling only introduced her fans to your genre?” Lynn spoke her opinion in her post, so I didn’t (and still don’t) think those tweets were inappropriate. I let her know my thoughts, but I guess that wasn’t enough to cure the poison in me and make me feel better. So, while the poison was still boiling my blood, I was thinking that if it’s okay for Lynn to talk crap about books she knows nothing about, it would also be okay for me to review her books on Amazon and Goodreads (without reading them) and give them all one star in my reviews. And, in my mind, I thought it was deserved. I was thinking, “She attacks, I’ll attack back.” But a few hours later I realized that rating her books one star on Amazon was absolutely wrong because I’ve never condoned that kind of behavior before so why would I now? So, let me say again that I hate when I react so badly. I usually give myself enough time to realize that those evil thoughts are wrong and that I shouldn’t act on them. I haven’t, and don’t ever intend to, read her books, so I don’t think it’s right of me to rate something I’ve never read, even if I’m still upset with her actions. So I immediately went in and deleted my reviews on Amazon. I still wanted to leave my 2 cents-worth on Goodreads, but at the time, I didn’t realize that I could just clear out my rating and still leave my comments about her books without deleting and starting over. But this morning, I was still thinking about my actions, and decided that if I couldn’t remove my one star ratings of Lynn’s books on Goodreads, then I’m just going to delete them off my Goodreads feed altogether. Luckily I discovered that there is a way to just clear out an already starred rating without having to delete it, so that’s what I did.

After all that drama, for most of the day I’ve been able to pretty much let it go and haven’t allowed the words from her post to consume my entire day like they did yesterday. That is . . . until I then saw some tweets from people who were upset, saying that Lynn was being bullied by all the people who were responding to her article! I did see a blog post about someone not agreeing with the one star rating on Amazon, and that’s fine, that’s their opinion and it’s valid. At that point I had already decided that my prior actions were immature (and I figured that out on my own), but I don’t think that anything I’ve seen written or posted about Lynn would be considered bullying. I mean, if you (Lynn) behave badly in public and insult other people (JK Rowling’s fans) then you better expect to be criticized right back, even if the backlash is immature. That is partially why I’m not beating myself up over my own behavior. I corrected my own bad behavior…and I’m sorry that I had one star reviews about Lynn’s books out on Amazon for about 3 hours (and on Goodreads for probably about 18 hours.) I feel bad about what I did, and I certainly won’t do it again. And I didn’t even need someone to tell me that it was wrong. I decided that on my own. However, I do think that Lynn Shepherd’s post was in a sense like one of those bullies who goes around pushing people, but never expects to be pushed back. But those kinds of bullies SHOULD expect to get punched back; especially, if they happen to push around someone who has done a lot of good for a lot of people. And they for sure better expect a lot of backlash from a lot of those people.

There were a lot of ways that Lynn could have written that post without being so insulting, petty and jealous and still get her point across. She could actually even have acknowledged her own envy brought about by a successful author changing writing genres and still being successful, and she wouldn’t have gotten this much backlash. But, then, she also wouldn’t have gotten this amount of attention. But the problem was that Lynn was rude. And she wasn’t just saying rude words to an author that she thinks will probably never see the article, she also insulted JK Rowling’s adult fans. I was disgusted! She said something that offended me personally. And then she was extremely rude to THE ONLY author that I would probably act like an extremely crazy fangirl over. Now, if Lynn had crazy people truly bullying her by stalking her over her Huffington Post article, then I’d be concerned. But that’s not happening. Instead, Lynn put herself in a very public forum, insulted a huge number of people, and got a negative reaction. So she better expect some reasonable internet backlash. It’s kind of (but I know not quite) like insulting a race of people . . . if you do that, you better expect a BIG backlash from that race. It’s understandable.

Now I want to discuss why I was so easily offended by Lynn’s article. It was primarily this paragraph:

“I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I've never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there's so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds. But, then again, any reading is better than no reading, right? But The Casual Vacancy changed all that.”

Who are you, Lynn, to say that Harry Potter is not stimulating, especially when you haven’t read them? I myself had not been a big reader before I read Harry Potter because, as a child, I hugely struggled with reading and comprehension. And guess what? When I read Harry Potter in my early 20s I became a lover of reading. “Yes Lynn, I was one of those grown-ups reading Harry Potter, and I’m not going to go into why adults love Harry Potter because there are enough adults that actually have read them to understand why.” And then after I discovered my love of reading through Harry Potter, I experimented by trying other books. I actually became quite fond of V.C. Andrews at that time, but there was no huge attachment like I had with the Harry Potter world. Harry Potter changed my life completely! I was one of those people that was showing up for the midnight release of the newest HP book, and I’d read the new release within 1-2 days after getting it. But it still took me almost 10 years after that before I found the right kind of books that would hold my interest. But I now read 50-100 books a year! And guess what Lynn? I primarily support new authors, much more so than already successful authors! But still, to this day, I have not had any book blow me away nearly as much as the Harry Potter world did. And not just me! I remember when I was first reading HP that a woman told me that her two AUTISTIC boys would only ever show interest in Harry Potter books. That is purely amazing! Why would you EVER ask someone with that kind of writing skill to stop writing?

OK! This post has become WAY too long, but I think I’ve gotten my point across. I’ll just end by saying that I feel really bad for Lynn’s publisher, publicist and anyone else she has taken down, affected and/or hurt over that ridiculous article. I sure hope Lynn sees why her article was hurtful.


Julie@My5monkeys said...

HUGS and t totally can relate to drama and words sticking with you. Yes I was an adult reading Harry Potter too. ((((( HUGS))))))

Jaime said...

AMEN!!! And hugs!!!

Fiktshun said...

I had no idea all this was going on with you the other day. And I'm so glad you decided to share it here on the blog.

It's so easy to get caught up in emotion and throw all maturity levels to the wind. Especially when you feel as if someone you respect/like/love is attacked.

I never read The Huff Po because it's no more than a gossip-mongering rag these days. It thrives on the drama it stirs up. And this is a prime example. They didn't have to publish this piece. But I can only imagine the pageviews they got for posting this anti-JKR article.

I hadn't been following this drama, and I didn't read the article in full. I got bored after the first two sentences because it reeked of sour grapes and just wasn't worth my time. While I'm not the same level of fan you are for this author, being attacked for their celebrity and being put down by someone who claims (and I don't buy it) that they never read the books or saw the films, is sad for its level of desperation.

I'm so sorry it hurt you. And that this "author"'s vitriol in attacking readers hurt, too. These arrogant elitists who judge anyone who opts to pick up a book, no matter what type, versus turn on reality TV or some other mindless spoon-fed nonsense make me ill.

I hope that this post helped you to get this out of your system. It's not good when someone else poisons you and brings you to anger. Whether it's because they don't think about the consequences of their actions or they just don't care, it's not right.

I'm glad you stood up for an author you love. I'm also glad you were able to calm down and post about it to vent versus going back and rating her books on Amazon and GR.

While I haven't heard of this person's writing and don't plan to look up her books, I doubt she's the literary genius whose works adult readers should be reading.

Here's to a better today and tomorrow! Sorry for the comment vomit. Go you!

Michelle said...

First off I guarantee she wrote that article because it would get attention. People love to write inflammatory articles with headlines that make people angry just to get more hits. Second that paragraph that you highlighted highly highly offends me too. I am an adult that primarily reads only YA. Does that mean I'm stupid or something because I am more entertained by YA books than adult books?? That I am somehow less smart than people who read adult books because YA books couldn't possibly be as stimulating?? That's f-d up!!!

Unknown said...

dude you are angry! But I was too. My son is currently reading HP books now and as soon as he got home from school, I shared this w/ him & my sister who is a fan also.

I also wanted to do a blog post but at the same time I decided against it because to do so would just add attention to this Lynn person. On a happier note, I'm so proud of my other idol, Anne Rice, coming to JK Rowling's defense.

Lynn just invited a clusterfuck of shit in her world by doing this. I'm sure her books will suffer because of her desire to become a sensation. Her much wanted shelf space just went kaput because regardless if you're a fan or not, the number of people who condone negativity far outweighs those who are all love and light.

Unknown said...

I get your anger. I wrote about it too-- I wasn't upset, but I thought I had to speak up against what was wrong.

Here's my post:

Anonymous said...

Hey Mindy!

I had no idea this was going on. I try hard, like you, to stay out of the politics and just enjoy the reading. But, I guess when someone takes a hit at J.K. Rowling I feel like the gloves need to come off, so I can understand what you're going through. I have to agree that the most disturbing thing she said was that she has no clue why adults read Harry Potter and that it's a shame they do. That baffles me. I've read since I was a child, but i've introduced many adults to the series (including my siblings), and they loved it. Sorry, that we're young at heart. But, it's not even that. I take University course that study the novels. We analyze the context, wording, and plot, and there is a lot that can be learned about and from the novels. The metaphors in there are extremely awesome.
I guess it's shaming to her to judge what someone can and cannot read and at what age, especially without having read the series herself.
Really all her statement is is an close-minded and jealous point of view, whose being upstaged by a writer that can write well in all categories.
Props to you for venting on a topic that would make all HP lovers and even just children's literature and YA literature enthusiast upset.

Donna said...

I had quite a bit to say about that absurd article too. I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about it since I believe that this is EXACTLY what Shepherd was hoping would happen. How many people had never even heard of her or her books before she linked her name to Rowling's through that post. She is likely LOVING all of the drama and debate that this has created since it has brought her a ton of unearned and undeserved attention. Especially the ones who think she's being bullied and will go buy her books because they feel bad for her. It's cheap and pathetic. I'll never touch her books.

irene said...

Im glad you blogged about this, this article is really offending!!! I am also a grown up who reads a lot of YA. What's wrong with that, and judging author because she made it is just one word: JEALOUSY!

If here goal with this post was to market here book, she has chosen a very bad marketing strategy because she has offended a LOT of people with this post. After reading this I made sure I didn't have any of her books on any of my shelves or devices. I don't allow trolling, so she on my black list now! I will surely never read her books (they are not even books I would read anyways, not my genre). But this is not the first backlash at JK Rowling. After Casual Vacancy came out, there was one negative article after another. Some were as bad as this one.

So yeah I support you in this, totally agreeing with you!

Irene @ Ice Queen's Bookshelf

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