Thickening the skin by proxy (more tangential Hugos crap)

Yeah, it’s more tangentially related to the Hugo debacle posting. Feel free to skip.

I think this whole Hugo mess has taught me a great lesson. No, not the political one (although that’s a lesson worth repeating: In life, everything is politics in the end. Everything.). I’m learning just how thick a skin you have to have to be a writer.

Yesterday, one of the nominees for this year’s Hugo, Marko Kloos, declined the nomination. While he disassociated himself with the sides involved as best he could, his real reasoning for backing out was that there would always be questions on his inclusion. While in a normal year you would think all of the Hugo nominees were there (largely) because people read their books and enjoyed them, this year’s allegation of ballot loading (bulk voting for the same set of authors to get them on the ballot, regardless of whether the voter read/enjoyed the work or not) would always leave a stain on his writing reputation. Would he have made the ballot without the boost? Was he actually worthy? With that kind of lingering question in mind, it’s no wonder he backed out slowly.

That’s not the educational part.

What has followed in the comments section has been the most eye opening maelstrom I’ve seen in a while. There are a lot of people that just comment to applaud the decision kindly – “appreciate your integrity” kind of statements. Not taking sides, not all current readers (though I’d love to see how this has impacted his sales this week), but generically pleasant posts. The rest break down into two rough groups. There’s the indignant, “Of course you should have withdrawn” which come off as just pretentious jerks. And then there’s the belligerent, moronic commenters. Not just haters, but self entitled, truly angry people.

Like a fool, I subscribed to the comments on the post. Although I’m not published, have no stake in the outcome, and don’t even really know Kloos that well (I’ve read a little of his blog in the past), I feel like I know what he must be feeling right now as my inbox dings every time a comment is posted. This is the kind of behaviour you know is out there, but is so rarely visible to the average audience member that it gets boxed away as almost anecdotal in the mind. Just because you put your stuff out there, people think they own a part of you. Crazy.

Bah. Fascinating to follow, easy to get sucked into. I should get back to writing, so I too can get some lovely fan mail about how I suck. And Marko, if you stumble on this post – hat tip, chin up, sounds like we don’t agree on a lot, but your first book’s been good so far and I’d be happy to share a table and some Wienerschnitzel with you some time.