I do love to read and although I’m not keeping up in the reviewing department I have been catching up on the stack of books sitting beside my chair. As an author I have a great appreciation for readers. I am delighted when people are interested in my books. As a reader I am not a good friend to authors.
Perhaps it’s the introvert in me that makes me resistant to reaching out to the authors I admire. I am well over the shyness I had as a child. I’ve worked with the public. I can talk to anyone if I have to. I’m just not inclined to reach out first, even with my good friends.
I had the opportunity this weekend to be an author in public. My writer’s group hosted a book fair. I went and had a good time. One of the other women in the group offered to share a table with me. That made stepping away for a little break a lot easier. It also encouraged me to have some conversation. In that context, talking to other authors is interesting and easy.
I did a reading which was well attended. I got a lot of questions both curious and contentious. I find it amusing when people think I’m against them and try to challenge me. I’ve come to a place in my life where I can stand pretty comfortably in my truth and not get defensive. I have a calling. I write from a point of view. If you need me to have further credentials then I’m not your gal.
Some of the most delightful people I talked to were clearly extraverts. I love getting caught up in that kind of energy and carried along for a short bit. One of the women I spoke with writes about and advocates for women recovering from the sex trafficking industry. I have no exposure or experience outside of the news so I was truly interested in hearing her story.
At the table next to us was an author who writes mysteries. That’s not a genre I’m particularly attracted to as a reader. It was fun to eavesdrop on her conversations as she sold her books and to talk to her as well. I am intrigued and might have to check out her series.
There was a great variety of styles, genre’s, topics represented at the fair. I managed to leave without buying a book, but it was really hard. I have a few on my list for later, once I get to the bottom of my reading pile.
I realize that the more I write the more likely I am to attract trolls. You know, those gruff insulting comments that really don’t have anything to do with what you’ve actually posted. The kind of comments that promote a world view or an agenda that is so opposite of the point you want to make that you wonder why (or if) they even bothered to actually read the post.
I don’t mind “allowing” commentary that’s critical when it is thoughtful, to the point and not loaded with derogatory, demeaning or threatening remarks. I have let through several comments that question my intention or direction. I pretty much let anyone who has commented continue to do so without a filter, but reserve the right to screen new posters. I filter, but pretty lightly. I do have a much heavier “filter” on older posts than I might on current ones.
I find it incredible when someone who has never posted suddenly sends a “how could you be so horrible” comment about a blog post that’s over a month old. What did they do? Go scanning through all the posts looking for something to get pissed about? Not worth my time and energy and not worth adding, at that late date, to the commentary. Although I do recognize new readers will sometimes look through back posts, especially if something catches their eye, the conversation has mostly moved on. On the other hand I always appreciate someone commenting just to let me know they’ve looked and what they thought. I read all the comments.
I do appreciate WordPress for their spam screen. They do a pretty good job of cutting out the viagra ads and the please send money contingent. Occasionally though I still find a reasonable comment in my spam file. Somebody who clearly read the post and is maybe not quite as glib, or as accurate a typist, as they might like to be. Not everything that looks like a troll is a troll.
I try not to be a troll myself when I post on other people’s blogs. My dear internet friends and fellow bloggers, the ones I read regularly, don’t deserve trolls any more than I think I do. But I know that sometimes when I zip off a comment before coffee or on the run I can be a little careless with my phrasing. A comment that I think is just a funny tease could be offensive. I can be a little short and seem judgmental. I can mean to cheer someone on and instead come off critical and negative.
Luckily those bloggers I read and comment on regularly have enough sense to ask, “What did you actually mean by that?” The advantage of regular reading and commenting is that you do get a feel for where the other person is coming from. It makes it easier to allow for the possibility of a misunderstanding. My blogging comrades have heard enough from me to guess that I probably didn’t mean to be gruff.
It’s harder with that first comment to spot where the controversy originated. Is it in the mind of the poster, or is it how I’m reading the comment? Did the poster misread the blog or is there really something there in that nasty comment that is worth examining? As welcome as the praise and encouragement may be it is often the critiques that we learn from.
The blog is such a varied and personal media that it really doesn’t warrant directed and demeaning criticism. Someone can have a different point of view. There should be room for discussion and expansion. But when someone is writing about “this is the way I see and experience the world” there really isn’t anything to argue about. What they write is the way they see and experience the world. It might be different than the way I see it, which makes for an interesting line of comments, but where is the argument? Can’t we both be right given our perspectives? Can we at least have a discussion rather than reverting to being trolls?