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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Go ahead, be wrong

Recently, this notion of being wrong has really been on the forefront of my mind.

Everyone, it seems has an opinion and likewise, it seems, everyone's opinion is the right one. Right?

If you don't agree, well, then you must be an idiot. Right? Right?  {insert eyeroll here}

An amazing book blogger and fellow Twitter fiend, Kara was recently attacked for her opinion and review of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse V. Now, while the situation that unfolded is neither original nor entirely surprising, it's got me thinking...

Why do we want to influence others in order to prove ourselves right? What if *gasp* we're wrong?

There's a fascinating video on this subject, which I would encourage everyone to watch. (Thus, it's here!) It talks so much about the values of being wrong and why, in the end, we're better people for it.

The gentleman who slammed Kara for her review was, in my humble opinion, really just attention seeking. It happens. But on his blog, he raised an interesting question... does an artist (in his case an indie-author) need to be nice in order to sell their books?

In a word. No.

I am a firm believer that each person needs to be true to themselves and their inner voice. If his is being harsh and abrasive-- at times, alienating people, many who may have otherwise read his stuff... well, that's his prerogative. Others will surely take the place of those he's lost. And that's okay.

He also posed the question: Should an artist be viewed separately from their art?

I, personally, don't know that they should. There are many stories who's authors I adore. People I aspire to be like. Does this man not look at Vonnegut as someone to aspire to be? How then, is that separating the art and the artist?

Art is the expression of the artist. It always comes from somewhere inside them or it wouldn't be believable.

It wouldn't be worth experiencing


Anonymous said...

hmmm this is a tough one.

I think if criticism is done with pure intent and remains focused on the discussion at-hand then that is a good thing. However, too often people loose sight of the discussion and end up attacking the person with conscious viciousness which is never okay imho.

We don't all have to agree but we need to be able to discuss like human beings with a brain and not 2-yo in the sandbox fighting over the yellow shovel.

Carissa Elg said...

You know, when a comment of criticism leaves being constructive to go into the realm of an Ad Hominem attack, there's a problem. Why people can't understand each other's differences of opinion is beyond me. Just because the opinion differs, it doesn't make the person an idiot or stupid. You know?

It's much easier to build momentum for yourself by building bridges than tearing them down. At the very least, it lasts longer. ;)

Anonymous said...

I actually divorce the work from the artist who produced it to some extent, to look at it for its own merits.

Artists are people too, and often times people do things they shouldn't; but that has no bearing on their art. Just because, say, a singer is an abusive husband doesn't mean his art itself isn't any good.

I have a friend who, if he finds out something bad about an artist, can no longer partake of the art. He says it ruins the work for him, so he tries to avoid finding out anything about the artists he enjoys. I personally find that stance kind of silly, because the art stands alone. Anything about the artist themselves is merely back story.

In general though an artist should be kind, but then I think everyone should be kind so that shouldn't be much of a surprise. There is a time and a place for being caustic, but it definitely falls into a limited scope of a person's life.

So there is my two cents, haha

Carissa Elg said...

You make a great point sp33deeohsix.

I'm not saying the art should be rendered inadequate just because the artist is a horrible person. Sometimes, the art is there way of trying to express something that otherwise has no voice. Typically, people lash out the most because they feel they themselves are misunderstood. Often times, even by themselves.

But their art is always related, even if only subconsciously.

That being said, there's something to say about experience. As far as personal experiences go, I'm not likely to purchase this person's books any time soon. Why? Because I'd rather support people who support others, rather than tear them down. It's just who I am. {shrugs}

Kara_Malinczak said...

If it had just been a criticism of my review or a differing opinion, I would have commented, disagreed, and moved on. Instead, I was called a moron, asked to never review books again, especially his, and was told all my credibility had been lost. He then went on to write a blog post about how much I sucked at life and should never touch a book again, like ever. It went above and beyond constructive criticism. And I hope he gets hit by a bus on his way to work. He has ruined my day, given me a migraine and rated all of his own books 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon. Who has lost all credibility again? He is an awful person, completely unhappy, and I predict that he will continue to behave in this manner as soon as he finds his next target. I will not be bullied. Not now, not ever.

Lae said...

I have to disagree with the being nice part. I'm sure it helps quite a lot if you're nice as an indie author. I don't mean pretend nice and pour sugar from your lips - fake is fake, and it gets noticed it's fake. But I think, that if the person is ill behaved and insulting towards others, it doesn't really encourage reading their books, or wanting to help them spread the word about them.

When you're popular and sell thousand books a day, that's when you can be mean if you want to, since it probably won't affect your sales, but as a starting self-pub author? Wouldn't recommend it.

There's different kind of mean and nice of course. And you don't have to be something you're not, just keep it to yourself, if you're about to insult people. Choose what you let out.

Carissa Elg said...

Kara, I agree that he's been awful, but you can't let him have the power to ruin your day. You're an amazing person and book blogger. If you compare your books on Goodreads, you aren't even in the same realm. (Not to say that you couldn't read the stuff he does and vice versa, just that you don't now) Don't sink to his level, either. Sometimes, passive resistance is better. The non-reaction can and will diffuse a situation like this. The flare up is exactly what he wants.

Lae, I'm not saying you *shouldn't* be nice. I'm saying you don't *have* to be nice. There's a difference there. I completely agree 100% that you're going to go further if you build bridges and support others. That sort of support, though, takes time. What this guy wanted was a quick bump in his blog ratings. You know?

It's extremely important that we self assess and see if the person other perceive as us, jives with our own inner compass. If not, I think there's a problem. ;)

TL Jeffcoat said...

Some people should not read their reviews if they can't handle criticism. Honestly, how could anyone reading a book be attacked for their interpretation of it? If the writer feels the reader didn't understand or grasp the content the way the writer intended, then it's the writer's fault for not conveying the message clearly.

As far as being nice or separating myself from my work? Won't happen. I am an artist of words and my work is a projection of me. Even the sick and twisted. Lucky me I'm actually a really nice guy.

KendallGrey said...

If the author in question knew anything about Kurt Vonnegut and aspired to be like him, he would never have attacked Kara in the first place. Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed humanist, and he *truly* was. He cared about the human condition, and "preached" love for your fellow man. I believe he was one of the awesomest people ever to live and write.

Aside from that, I agree with your point about writers creating an "identity" for themselves. If you want to come off as an asshole, be an asshole. But, if you want people to *like* you and buy your books, that might not be the best course of action. I'm kind of turned off by writers, actors, and musicians who turn out to be jerks in real life. Doesn't necessarily mean I won't buy their stuff any more, but sometimes I think twice before I do.

I believe everyone has a right to his/her opinion. Share it if you like, but don't ram it down everyone else's throat. I'm all for having debates, as long as they are civil, and those involved can respectfully agree to disagree.

Great post, Carissa. It really got me thinking!

Anita said...

What a great post! You are so right. The thing is, the author has to stay true to their voice as a writer, as well as their personal voice.

No doubt his books have harsh and abrasive elements that are woven in by his personality; in which case, staying true to himself while promoting his book will draw the ideal audience for his work and chase away the ones who would've found it offensive anyway.

So by being true to who you are, you're surrounding yourself with the kinds of people who will GET your writing. Rather brilliant thinking, if you ask me. Kudos to him, and to you for addressing this subject!

Carissa Elg said...

Great responses, guys! This is just a fascinating thing, isn't it?

lormandela said...

Hi Carissa,

Great post! I struggle with enduring criticism, myself, but try to be gracious about it (at least in public, haha). We've all had to learn, at one point or another I suppose, that not everyone gives and/or takes personal suggestions the same. At least, we can all choose who we like and who we don't, huh? :o)

Anyway, I've left you a little something on my blog! I hope you enjoy it!!! Here's the link:

Thanks for your thought-provoking posts! I can't wait to read more!!!