Was it murder--or something serious?
Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Age of Entitlement

I love my readers. I really do. I love talking to readers. I love hearing their stories too: how they were in a relationship like A&J’s or how my books make them laugh or make them cry. How reading my stories can make a hospital waiting room bearable or offer company on a lonely, rainy night.  

I’m a professional writer of commercial fiction. I don’t have any illusions about my role in the greater scheme of things. But if I can provide a few hours of intelligent amusement and entertainment in someone’s busy, stress-filled life, I am content.

And the fact that I can earn a comfortable living doing what I love makes me patient with the occasional rude and intrusive fan. But I have to say, I do see an increase in the number of rude and intrusive online interactions.

That’s not the only reason why I hired a virtual assistant – I hired a virtual assistant mostly because I couldn't BEGIN to keep up with everything – but it is one of the reasons.

Like this letter I got a few months ago:

I've been reading one of your books, which I'm enjoying a lot. Out of curiosity, are you a woman writing under a nom de plume? There is a similarity in your writing to another author I read. I've had the experience before reading m/m fiction written by female authors. The gender doesn't bother me at all, but I prefer it if it's out in the open.

Many thanks from a fan!

Ugh. So offensive on so many levels. I’d say misogynistic creeps like this guy/gal are one of the main reasons I’ve refused to drop the veil.

How is it even remotely your business?

But it’s the smarmy, chummy hey there! Just curious about something personal and private that clearly you don’t want to share but I prefer if it’s out in the open.

Oh! Well, heck, if YOU prefer it…*splutter*

Seriously?

The offensive part is the pretending to be a reader, let alone a fan. I’ve had several fans make the connection to Diana or Colin or Briony  – in fact, so many that I have the bad habit of thinking everyone knows now. And that’s my mistake. But the vague “one of your books” and “another author I read.” It’s a fishing expedition.

Well, people are curious about other people. That’s why People magazine sells millions of copies of what amounts to inane gossip. That’s okay. I understand curiosity.  

But this: m/m fiction written by female authors. The gender doesn't bother me at all

Sure. Except even though it doesn’t matter AT ALL, you really, really, REALLY want to know. So much so that you’re writing a complete stranger and asking personal, clearly private information.

Coz if I’m using a pen name, it's not an accident, right?

I started this journey so long ago – nearly twenty years ago now – with my original point being if you couldn't tell from the work, it obviously wasn’t relevant. Oh, if I were writing memoir or autobiography, if I were online with a fake photo and posting about my struggles or life as a gay man, sure. I could see it might be relevant. But I have said from the start I'm using a pen name and I am not writing my own experiences. I write mystery, fantasy, adventure and category romance. Sometimes with gay characters. Sometimes not. I write genre fiction. How is which restroom I use relevant?

The only people who want – need -- it to be relevant are bigots. They are outraged and insulted at the idea, but this is the truth. They are prejudiced. Biased. And if I won’t give them that crucial piece of the puzzle, they don’t know what to think. They can’t be sure and it makes them crazy. 


And it makes them very angry. Because as much as they try to rationalize it, they know in a dark and moldy corner of their heart, that they are indeed exactly what they hate and resent in others.

But it’s different coz it’s them. And I’m the bad guy.

Yeesh.

I despise them. And yet…I know that it usually isn’t fueled by malevolence. Some of it really is a product of being a reader in the Age of Entitlement. For some readers the books, the stories, aren’t enough. They want a piece of the author too. Attention, acknowledgment, recognition. And honestly, I love interacting with readers. I am happy to recognize and acknowledge readers and the role they play in my life. I have become close friends with many readers. I really do love some of my readers.

But. But in the end all I really owe any reader is the best book that I can write at any given moment. That’s it. That is the sum total. Buy my books or don’t buy them. The books are the only thing for sale.

    


6 comments:

  1. Briony? Are you sure you don't have dissociative identity disorder? ;)

    And thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's always interesting to get a peek inside someone's head. Oh wait, was this DL, JL, Diana, Colin or Briony? I'm so confused. :)

    Faye

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  2. Yeah, let's not start psychoanalyzing each other. Coz I would not be kind. :-)

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  3. Josh Lanyon? Is that you? 'Cause lets be honest, you *have* been masquerading as a gay man for years. And running Jesse Wave to promote yourself too. Do you really think people don't know? Because they do. Everyone does.

    Though I will say, no one actually cares. If an author feels the need to hide for whatever reason, that's their business. It's the sanctimonious blog posts that get on my wick. The ones where the author still believes no one knows what they've been up to and lectures the whole world on why they're right and everyone else is just *mean*.

    Bless your heart, all the way from Texas.

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    1. Actually, if you follow me, you know I have *not* been masquerading as a gay man. I have steadily and consistently declined to answer anything about my gender as it is (and continues to be irrelevant). And if that is not in itself an answer, I don't know what would be.

      Nobody whose opinion I care about cares about such things.

      As for "running" Jessewave's site? LOL No. Absolutely not. I did a column for Wave and that was it.

      "Everybody knows." Right there you make my point. :-D

      Delete
  4. As someone who has known for quite some time who you are, I have to say, the trail of breadcrumbs that you left would make me giggle. It was the world's worst kept secret. The fact is, if you wanted to know, it was easy to know. As far as running Jesswave, I met Wave in Albuquerque at GRL and she was a hoot, but she's definitely not you. I can't imagine you running that huge site, and still having time to write. You write an excellent book, that is all I would ask from you. The fact that I can count you among my friends, well, that's my good fortune.

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    1. Thank you, M.

      I'm going to let you have the last word on this because it's too silly to keep arguing.

      Yes, it has been an "open secret" for years, with many, many readers in both my mainstream and gay audience recognizing my voice. And yes, I did deliberately drop many breadcrumbs along the way.

      I know there will be some who believe using a male pen name was MASQUERADING and nothing I can say will shake their belief, and that's fine. I honestly don't care.

      I DO HOWEVER CARE ABOUT BEING MISTAKEN FOR JESSEWAVE. ;-D

      (with all due respect to Wave.)

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