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.