Watch Your Mouth

(Posted by Jim Winter)

Having a blog is great. In fact, having two this month has been great. I just now have to figure out how I’m going to finish out this month. Thank God it’s only Sunday.

It’s been mentioned by a couple of acquaintances that one must be careful about what one blogs about and whom. There are anonymous blogs out there to be sure, which let some writers vent. However, that does not shield one from the consequences of what one says.

Does that mean censorship? Yes and no.

What it does mean is common sense. Don’t trash your publisher in a public forum. Don’t trash your agent or former agent in a public forum. And for God’s sake, if you take issue with another writer, don’t make it personal.

Best advice I ever had about handling other writers came from SJ Rozan. “Whatever you say, it gets back to them.”

I’ve tried to follow this rule, but a couple of times, I let my temper get the better of me. That in and of itself illustrates my point. Writers as a whole are a screwed up lot, but most of them (even Michael Koryta allegedly. I’ve even seen his ID!) are also adults. So act like one whether you like it or not.

If I got a dispute, I take it to the disputee or I vent to friends if I’m not sure what course of action to take. The world at large doesn’t need to know that one writer rubbed me the wrong way at Bouchercon last year or another got into an email brawl that turned into a three-month cold war. Why not? Because I get along with both writers now. It happens, and even an incorrigible grudge-holder like me has to accept that.

Besides, my former agent has told me enough stories in confidence to show me that you can vent without making it a public spectacle. (No, I will not tell you who she dished on or what happened. These were largely to teach her client about the biz. Too bad said client’s an arrogant hack who hasn’t learned yet.)

There’s plenty to gripe about in this business without trashing other writers or editors who might someday read your manuscript or the agent with the very contacts you need to break out of the pack.

Besides, remember the story about the two writers I had run-ins with. You may be planning to pull a Glen Close and leave a boiled bunny in their kitchen today. Tomorrow, however, you might be asking them to read your manuscript so they can tell you that it’s absolute crap, just like you suspected. And those are just your friends. Imagine what happens when you need a favor from your enemies.

7 Comments on “Watch Your Mouth”

  1. It’s not really Political correctness. It’s more like, I don’t want to get my ass kicked.
    Poitical Correctness is more over-compensation though.

  2. Political correctness has nothing to do with it so much as common courtesy. We tend to be short-term thinkers, which makes shooting one’s mouth off easy. Thinking long-term, however, raises your guard because the guy pissing you off today might be your new best friend tomorrow.

    Besides, if I don’t want someone dictating my agenda, where do I get off dictating someone else’s?

    That’s the bottom line.

  3. political correctness is common courtesy. my god. we’re living under the patriot act, people. being asked to use polite terms when addressing strangers is not a big deal.

  4. Sorry folks – I have to disagree. Common courtesy is social correctness, not political correctness.

    Political correctness is where a small group of people, claiming to speak on behalf of a much larger group, declares that larger group offended by some word or action, and then complains loudly and publicly whenever someone “offends” this group. The fact that some (or even most?) of the group members aren’t offended (or, in many cases, don’t even care) becomes irrelevant.

    I’d give an example, but by definition, it would be politically incorrect, and I don’t want to offend anyone. ;-)

    Hastily noted: sometimes, political correctness can also be social correctness. But they are certainly not equivalent sets…

  5. “I’d give an example, but by definition, it would be politically incorrect, and I don’t want to offend anyone. ;-)”

    Oh, I’ll give you an example, and I don’t care who’s offended as I’m the injured party.

    I have Cherokee blood.

    And I love the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo. It’s smiling, friendly, and inoffensive to me.

    You know what offends me? The bastards outside every Cleveland Indians game protesting. Ever see an Indian in the bunch? You do? When did Native Americans settle in Ireland or Nigeria? That’s right, kids. The people complaining the loudest trace their ancestries back to Europe and Africa. Frankly, I’m more offended by self-righteous blowhards (so you can imagine what I REALLY think of the far right in this country) than I am by a cartoon. Next time, ask me if I’m offended before you protest on my behalf. Otherwise, I reserve the right to spit in your face on the way into the Jake.

  6. Political correctness is using the many to control the thoughts, actions, and speech of the few. One only needs to read 1984 to understand this concept. We are already there. The term “hatecrime” is one example of this. It proves that some animals are more equal (or deserving greater justice) than others. It is not “the patriot act” or “the bush administration” or “imperialism” that is to blame for this. It is we who are to blame.

    We allow this sort of thing to go unchallenged. There is no such thing as a “hatecrime”. The crime is assault, murder, rape, etc. There is crime and punishment. Let the punishment fit the crime not the motivation behind the crime. It is not a crime to dislike a homosexual. It is a crime to assault a person. I heard the term “guncrime” the other day. I suppose I am just going to give up when I hear the term “facecrime” in the media.

    Being asked to use polite terms is fine. Being forced to use polite terms is not. Everyone is worried about being offended. Thicken your skin, but know where the line is. “Thinking long term” is PC politics at its finest. Be brave, bold, and brash. Say the wrong thing once and a while, and when you do, be man enough to admit you were wrong. Notice I didn’t say woman enough. Did I offend any of you? Good. Thicken your skin, it builds character. You don’t have the ability to offend me because I have not given you the power. You can call me anything you like, you can insult my ethnicity, and you can defame my gender, but the minute I turn the table, you play the “victim”. Political Correctness hides in the guise of fairness, but it is absoultely unfair to certain groups of people.

  7. Those certain groups of people need to grow up. Yes, you are allowed to say offensive things. No, you’re not shielded from the consequences. Suck it up.

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