Friday, October 3, 2014

My take on all the bullying . . .

If you've been on Facebook lately you've most likely seen quite a bit of bullying going on. Maybe not firsthand but there are plenty of stories going around. A few times now people have asked for my take on it all.

I've tried to avoid it but as it gets worse I can't just push it aside. It can't be ignored. So here it is . . . my take on all of the bullying going on.

Let me start with a story.

About nine years ago I was bullied. Not online but in person. Kids my age hated me. I will never understand why other than I was the new kid, the outsider. Because of their hurtful words, all their jokes, the evil glares, and such I became an over achiever. This didn't help my case because all of the sudden, the adults all loved me.

Things got bad. I was sick of everything in life. I was tired of not having any friends, always being an outsider despite trying so hard to fit in.

In 2007 things changed. At this point I had two real friends. One of which invited me to attend a writer's group for girls my age; taught by her mother along with a few other women. Originally I declined but in the end, I went and that is when I discovered writing.

Writing became my escape. It didn't matter that I had no real friends because I found friends with my characters. I could write for hours on end and often, I did just that. And a couple of years later I attended my first writers conference.

I was out of my element, terrified, alone at a whole conference, and I ran into Shanna - one of the women who taught me to write. She asked how many authors I had spoken to so far. The look on her face when I admitted I hadn't spoken to anyone is unforgettable. She got in my face, looked me dead in the eye, and said "Konstanz, you get out there and you introduce yourself to people. Get your name out there. Talk to people!"

Terrified at the task she gave me, I went to another class. Afterwards I meekly approached the front of the room, introduced myself to the authors who gave the class, and now eight years later I'm still doing that.

Writing saved me in a way nothing else could. Where I was bullied by people my own age, I found friends at this conference filled with people just like me. I knew I found a group of people I could call my friends for life.

One thing I learned above everything else is authors stick up for each other. We help each other. We are there for each other. There is no competition amongst authors because readers will always want more books. Well, it was that way.

Now I can't say the same thing. Yes, readers want more books. So why in the world have we turned it into a competition? Why are authors fighting each other like cats and dogs? What happened to the kindness?

*Paul Genesse taught a panel at one of my first conferences that I will never forget. He talked about how authors help each other. And if you have a published author, he is going to help the author below him - the author getting ready to submit his manuscript to publishers. And the author submitting to publishers is going to in turn, help the author below him, the one still in the editing phase. And the author in the editing phase is going to help the author below him. And it will keep going so that no matter where you are in your writing career there will always be someone to help you.

*This is not word for word. I do not recall Paul's exact words but it was the same idea, the same principle. 

So what happened to that? When I feel like I can't go to a fellow author for help there is something seriously wrong with the author and book world.

The bullying (in every form) needs to stop.

I recently read a blog post calling out a well known author for bullying. Knowing that author personally, I have a hard time believing that the blogger tells the full story. And how often is this happening? How often are authors outed as bullies because people refuse to get all the facts?

I am not saying that authors do not bully. Simply that we should know all the facts before judging, before refusing to buy their work or talk to them. Every one has a story. As someone in the writing community, authors, readers, bloggers, should understand that more than anyone.

Let's quit the accusing game, the blaming game, the "everyone attack this person for saying something we didn't like" game. And let's get back to the supporting each other.

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