There’s been a lot of buzz in the writing community this week about a situation that turned ugly in a very public fashion.
I’m staying out of the fight mostly because authors like Myra McEntire and Kirsten Hubbard already said it better than I could.
For those of you outside the writing community (or those who missed the showdown because you were doing something productive like laundering your belly-button lint) here’s the quick rundown:
Agent receives query, responds with professional rejection, author responds in an ass-hat manner, agent posts author’s ass-hat rant on blog with author’s full name, author responds with further ass-hat comments, agent holds Twitter contest inviting participants to publicly mock author.
I’m not going to jump on my soapbox and say who behaved more stupidly – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Suffice it to say, we all do dumb things. What alarms me is the fact that nearly every stupid act you might commit these days has strong potential to become horribly, painfully public.
It wasn’t so long ago you could perform a bonehead maneuver and truly believe only your closest friends would know.
When I was in high school, I used to do a trick that involved smearing my hand with rubber cement and lighting it on fire.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Since I’d done it dozens of times without incident, I was honestly surprised one day when I couldn’t get the flames out. I ended up in the hospital with second and third degree burns.
Sympathy was in short supply – I had, after all, deliberately set myself on fire.
To top it off, I had the pleasure of learning that I’m violently allergic to codeine – a discovery made when my parents found me running around the living room throwing up and kicking walls while hallucinating I was in a house of mirrors.
A proud moment all around.
I had no problem then or now admitting that I had done something stupid. At the same time, I had the comfort of knowing my college application packets wouldn’t include a write-up of the event. My future job interviews did not have screenings of the video footage, and I was not forced to add it to my agent queries.
I also have the benefit of being a humor writer. As such, one of my favorite targets for mockery is myself. I’ll gladly blog about getting caught having fake car sex or dropping gristle in a stranger’s purse. I’m happy to tweet about the dog licking my armpit or hitting myself in the head with the car door.
I don’t mind you laughing at me. I encourage it.
But that’s the difference. I ask for it. I’m choosing to post my embarrassing moments for everyone with an internet connection to enjoy.
Not everyone asks for it.
Just something to think about before you hit the “post” button on that video of your co-worker break-dancing topless to Neil Diamond at the company Christmas party.