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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TROLLS, WITHOUT FEEDING THEM?

I GREW UP BEING TOLD that if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. I think the original message came from the Disney film, Bambi. My mother used to remind me of Thumper's words often. This post is an awkward one to write, because it's true what they say - you shouldn't feed the trolls, and I may be feeding them. Any mention of them tends to bring them out from their moldy, flesh-encrusted caves, because they smell blood.

I blame the internet and bad parenting. I may be as guilty of bad parenting as the rest. Our society has devolved into a morass of rudeness protected by anonymity. Anybody can bash anybody and get away with it. I wish there was some way to change that. This is my attempt.

Trolls are cowards and bullies. At heart, most of them are unhappy people, frustrated and insecure; they find power and satisfaction in bashing others because they think they can attack with impunity. If you're wondering, yes, I've recently seen some bad reviews for The Tattooed Seer. They sat like little bombs, waiting for me to discover them so they might explode in my face. But here's the thing - in spite of my initial shock and distress, I feel sorry for the people who penned them. I know they stem from a need to lash out. Deep down, these people suffer from their own senses of inability, so they make attempts to cut others down to their size.

It's one thing to pen a thoughtful review. It's another to trash a book because it's not your favorite genre, or because you've read the second book of a trilogy and it makes no sense because you haven't read the first. I'll also add, if you don't like a novel, why scan through the whole thing, unless it's to find fault? If I don't like a book, I set it down and stop reading. I make better use of my time. It also crosses my mind that potentially, these reviews stem from disgruntled writers I may have rejected from the On Spec slush pile. I will never know for sure. But it's a hell of a way to get back at me, if not pretty transparent.

Anyway, as Lorina Stephens, my publisher, tells me, I'm not the only writer who has ever received the odd bad review. Everyone from Joseph Boyden (The Orenda) to Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses) has received them, so I am hardly alone. And sometimes, it's the bad ones that generate more interest than the good.

I can only hope readers with any intelligence will see those reviews for what they are - ill thought-out attempts to make somebody who feels small and frustrated feel powerful. If I get any troll-mail as a result of this post, I don't intend to post it. Suzenyms remains a Troll-Free Zone.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:25 PM

    I think you've spent too much time as an editor and forgot how much rejection sucks.

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  2. I'm allowing your comment 'Anonymous' because it is only borderline insulting and trollish. I can assure you, I have not forgotten how much rejection sucks. I still have the odd short story rejected when it doesn't quite fit what the editors had in mind for an anthology, for example. It keeps me humble.

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