Are You a Writer-in-Waiting?

sb10067155f-001A little while ago, I was having a conversation with a colleague about my writing. I found myself trying to describe what I was before I made the decision to go the indie route. And the term that came to me was “writing-in-waiting”. At the time, it was just something I came up with in an attempt to be cheeky. But it actually summed up what my problem was for all the years that I toiled away in anonymity.

And truth be told, it applies to a whole lot of aspiring writers I’ve talked to over the years. What do you call yourself when you’re a writer who has a manuscript, but is stuck in the “what do I do now” phase? These are not the same people have an idea in their head and are undecided on what to do about it. Those people are “aspiring writers”, people who haven’t made the big leap yet.

novels“Writer’s-in-waiting”, on the other hand, describes the people who have taken that leap, put the pen to paper and given their idea life, but aren’t sure what to do next.  I do believe every independent writer has gone through this phase at one point or another. Somehow, the concept of publishing your own works just doesn’t come naturally. We all still believe that there’s a publisher out there who will give us our “big break”.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The cash advance, the contract, the royalties, and all kinds of promotion and publicity. But alas, this is a very hard thing to come by, and it seems to be getting harder all the time. Lucky for us, the very things that are making it harder to get a publishing deal are also providing us with the tool to publish, promote and publicize ourselves.

But I digress. Does this description, a “writer-in-waiting” describe you? If so, the good news is that there are plenty of people who’ve taken that next step and can let you know how and where to make it. And even though there is no such thing as a “big break” anymore, or at least a very slim chance of one, there’s plenty of opportunity for people with an idea and the will to take it public.

When Trolls Get Really Nasty

trollIn my life, I’ve gotten into many heated debates. The majority were intelligent, but some were painfully stupid. In the former case, many were face to face, civil, and almost always resulted in some kind of resolution. In the latter, they all took place over the internet, were quite pointless, and generally resulted in me losing that much more faith in the human race.

Might sound harsh, but consider this most recent example. Over at Goodreads, I joined with a number of people in debating the merits of the Ender’s Game boycott. Without getting into the details too much, let me just say that these people and I were of the same mind and we successfully and intelligently debated against numerous people who’s point of view ran contrary to our own.

troll3Then came along a man named… let’s call him Igor! Igor began by debating with us and telling us we didn’t know what we were talking about, even though we routinely backed up what we said with direct quotations and citations. After awhile, i chose to call him on his unwillingness or inability to acknowledge what we were saying, and that’s when things got personal.

This coincided with him engaging in name-calling to a number of people in the thread. His words of choice were stupid, dishonest, trolls, and the like. For this, we called him petty, childish, and hypocritical, since he routinely would make insults in one breath and then claim we were the bad guys in the next. In no time at all, he chose to get really personal, and started attacking me on my author’s page.

troll6Yes, as if insulting my colleagues and I in an open forum was not enough, he chose to begin rating every book I’ve listed on Goodreads with one star. He even started a shelf especially for them, entitled “Sci-fi authors who hate science.” Naturally, we all wondered just how stupid he was, seeing as how any review can be flagged for abuse, much like posts.

At this point, I cut the lines of communication, but he continued to rail on in the forum against everyone. And when my colleagues all came to my defense, good people that they are, he claimed he was merely criticizing my books because of scientific inaccuracies he saw in them. Naturally, everyone called BS on that and told him he was just doing it out of spite.

troll2Not only was it abundantly clear he hadn’t read a single book in my list, the reviews were all made within a day of his opening salvo of insults. Nevertheless, he kept coming back to the forum claiming that he was a scientist and that he’s taking a stand on ethics, and even claimed my attempts to have his reviews flagged was some kind of censorship.

At this point, I just have to wonder, who does this? What kind of person decides to get back at a person who’s debating them by giving their work terrible ratings? What kind of person then has the nads to show their face again and make incredibly transparent excuses for doing it? What kind of person persists in claiming they are somehow the victim when they are the one constantly on the offensive?

troll4But of course, Goodread’s moderators have been slow to respond. Apparently, this individual has flagged every member of our group as well for abuse, and seems to think he’s in the right and will be vindicated. Worse yet, we know for a fact he trolled by the profiles of the other members in the group. But since they do not have original material posted there, he had nothing to work with.

An upside to this spiteful episode is that it made my colleagues in the group realize I was a writer. Somehow, it just never came up, and my friends were not one to troll my profile looking for something to use against me. Now, however, they’ve all taken an interest, and one was even sure to start reading my books and gave them all very high ratings (5 stars each!)

Facebook Reece ElliottBreaking my communications embargo just long enough to thank him, I let Igor know that his little explosion of pettiness actually did me good. I was also sure to let him know that as soon as his trollish one-star reviews were removed, I shall have several five star reviews to take it place. I hoped he could appreciate the irony, or at least incredibly foolish. That will be our last communication, as I have no interest in indulging this individual further.

One thing is for sure, though – Goodreads needs to seriously consider its terms of use! It’s getting like YouTube over there, with the people at the shallowest end of the gene pool setting the tone and ruining it for the rest of us. Wasn’t it supposed to be a site dedicated to literature and intellectual pursuits? Yeah, and they said that the internet would bring the world together and create a “Global Village”. Look how that turned out!

In the meantime, if you’ve got any interesting troll stories you want to share, please feel free to share them. Nothing beats the misanthropic blues like knowing that there are other people out there who can’t stand pettiness, stupidity, and general jackassery, the very stuff that trolls are made of. And in the meantime, remember…