This will be a work in progress, but this is the first and absolute right:
1) A writer does not have to have the same politics, tastes, mood, religion, prejudices, ideas, sexuality, likes, or dislikes as you. If you don’t agree with any of that, stop reading altogether because you don’t deserve any books at all and probably don’t understand anything that you’ve been reading.
What made me do this post is the latest in snipery from readers who think a writer owes them something other than the work they’ve read and/or bought.
I don’t see this kind of crap brought up with film directors, movie stars, musicians, or most other professions.
Somehow readers believe that they make writers.
I’ve got news for all of you. We writers write whether we have readers or not.
If you want to read us — and even pay us for that — we’re grateful.
But that’s all we “owe” you. Period.
The specific inspiration for this post — the latest in a long line of inspiration going back several years now — is this Amazon message board thread.
One writer does a post. Another writer deems it insulting somehow.
And the pile-on begins.
Guess what? People — writer people — are going to differ from you in many, many ways. Just like any other human being you encounter in the course of your day. What makes you think that just because you’ve read a writer’s work you somehow “own” that person or even “know” that person?
Do you get this weird idea after seeing a movie? A TV program? Hearing a song? Exchanging pleasantries with a next door neighbor?
I’ve got news for you. You don’t even know yourself all that well.
I’d tell you to go read Philip K. Dick’s The Electric Ant, which illustrates how little we can know about ourselves, but I don’t think most people would even understand the point he makes in that story. Because if most people did — specifically those people who think they are smart because they buy books and profess to read them — I wouldn’t be seeing the sniping and childishness I’ve witnessed again and again with readers’ attitudes towards writers.
I’ve seen people complain, for example, about the beliefs of writer Orson Scott Card. That’s too damned bad for you. He’s entitled to believe whatever the hell he wants. It’s irrelevant to his work, which I will continue to buy and read, even though we seem to have very little in common beside the fact he does work I like and will continue to support.
This is supposed to be America, not some sort of dictatorial state where everyone is supposed to agree with everyone else on every single matter big and small.
If a Belief Checklist determines whose books you will purchase, here’s another newsflash for you: You will be left with very little to read.
Any writer with any backbone would tell any reader who pries into their private life to go to hell — to put it mildly. And if a writer expresses an opinion that readers disagree with, those readers can still go hell. The writer has done his job: writing.
If you want to boycott people because they’re not like you, you open a Pandora’s Box that is inevitably going to come after you. Look around you today. At how careful you have to be in your own workplace about expressing an opinion. See how fast the wrong string of words can get you called down to Human Resources for some “re-training.”
Is that the kind of world you really want to live in?
If it is, then why the hell are you reading books, which are supposed to be the place for the free and open expression of ideas and opinions? Why read at all?
All you are entitled to out of any writer is their work.