August 11th, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April


I had a very good drive from Denver to Amarillo, but the best thing about it was seeing a small group of pronghorn antelope on the incredibly green grass of northeastern New Mexico today.  Bounce, bounce, bounce!

I saw them on a stretch of US 87 where it was not possible to pull over and try for a picture, or even a longer observation, but still.  BOUNCE.
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Sometimes....'s hard to let it go.  Apropos of writers being instructed by incompetent (as in, can't read accurately), ignorant (as in, don't know what they're talking about), arrogant twits.

Women who write military SF with some important female characters are likely to get it from all sides, of course.  Some feminists think no woman should ever write anything approving, or funny, about soldiers and war.  Some other feminists think we should, but the female soldiers should be a) lesbian and b) better than the male soldiers.   Male complainers are likely to find the work infested with girl cooties unless it avoids their particular definition of girl cooties, which usually involve liking fancy anything, relationships, or family issues.   (Interestingly, male complainers will accept as cootie-less the exact same situations and characteristics if written by men:  from all-too-personal observation, I know that David Weber's Honor Harrington can fall in love more than once, have an affair, marry, like fancy things, have emotional storms, read to the children, etc, etc., and still be considered girl-cootie-free.)

Both genders, from time to time, have informed me that I've written something I haven't written, because in their minds, they're convinced someone like me *would*.    "Someone like me" may refer to my gender or my military past or the state where I live or something else they've decided is the determining factor, usually entirely, and always partly, irrelevant.

It doesn't work to instruct them back, give them the facts they managed to miss while reading, the facts they don't know about, for instance, war, the military, the writing game, stuff like that, or gently inform them they're arrogant SOBs who deserve to be smacked upside the head with a clue-by-four.  They don't write letters or send emails to learn anything.  They think they know it all already, including my motivations, my strengths, and my weaknesses.  They're sure I need their expertise, their incredible wisdom and knowledge, their guidance, to become a better writer, more like (shall be nameless, since the list varies with the complainer.)  I don't blame the other writers, whether I think their stuff is all that good or not--their work is being hijacked without their consent.  Probably similar but differently aimed ignoranti are using my work to belabor some other writer, poor soul, who has my sympathy and should understand I'm not the one who thinks mine is better.  (Well...okay...sometimes I DO think mine is better.  Without ego, no writer could survive.  But I never set the dogs on another scribbler.)

But it's hard, you know?   It's hard not to swat these folks.   First off, didn't their mothers teach them any manners?  And if not, and they're such hot-shot military experts, didn't they learn that accurate intel beats sloppy, crappy, inaccurate intel when you're setting up an operation?   Like, maybe, they should learn to read what's actually in the book, and not what they think is in the book because they have a knee-jerk reaction to a word or phrase or even situation?  A story about a soldier, or  about war, is not necessarily glorifying war--or damning it.   All soldiers up to this point are actually born out of a woman's body, and nearly all have families--parent(s), sibling(s), lover(s), maybe a spouse, some children--and since they're human, they also have feelings that may not be what the complainers of any type expect or want to believe.   Lovers aren't always spouses (DUH!)  or of opposite (or the same) sex. 

And writers are not obliged to write to accommodate any complainer's personal quirks.   I don't mind if a reader likes someone else's work better than mine--though it would be polite of them not to say so.  Saying so isn't going to change my writing, just my mood.   I have found other writers less than great without feeling any need to tell them so.    They have a right to write their way and I have a right to buy the book or not.    Be nice if some readers did the same.