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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Artistic Freedom vs. Crowdsourcing, Censorship, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

by Anne R. Allen

Ruth and I often get requests to censor our posts when a word or link or piece of news has offended somebody. We usually comply. We don't want a minor distraction to interfere with our purpose—which is to share information about the writing business in a straightforward, lighthearted, encouraging way.

But the complaints are getting more frequent, and we're beginning to feel a little battered.

I'm not talking about our helpful readers who point out typos, errors and broken links—we're sincerely grateful for that kind of help, and we never pretend to be infallible. Keep it up. We really appreciate our watchdogs!

But I'm kind of scared by the number of permanently "offended" groups who think their needs trump all others. They seem to believe that one offended person—whether or not an offense has actually been committed—is more important than our creative freedom, or indeed, the creative freedom of the entire artistic community.

I fear we're moving to a sort of neo-Darwinism: survival of the whiniest.

Self-pity and self-righteous rage have become the drugs of choice in the Internet age. (And both ends of the political spectrum use them to maintain government gridlock and fill their coffers.)

This week I had to remind myself that self-righteousness doesn't make a person actually right. And self-pity is a bully's most potent weapon. Most abusers feel sorry for themselves.

Our complainers come from all points of the sociopolitical spectrum, and they contact us by email, Tweet, DM, G+, FB, etc. but they all have one thing in common: they advocate censorship.

But personally, I'm not a fan of censorship and I feel the need to take a stand. This post is probably going to lose us a few readers and I'm sorry about that.

But enough is enough.

It's not as if this blog is particularly edgy or pushes a political or religious agenda. (Ruth and I have never discussed our political or religious affiliations, even with each other.) But we think we (and our guests) have a right to our own unique voices.

Unfortunately, a handful of people find reasons to object to pretty much everything we  do:

  • We've had complaints from people outraged by our use of humor and irony, because individuals with certain brain configurations can only understand words on a literal level. (These complainers would be blissfully happy in China, where recently the use of puns and wordplay has been banned in journalism.) 
  • They also don't want us to link to blogs that use vulgar language or don't support a particular sociopolitical or religious belief system. (We will include warnings in the future.)
  • Some people think we shouldn't be allowed to give advice to those who want to publish traditionally. 
  • Others think we shouldn't write about self-publishing. 
  • Some argue we shouldn't talk about publishing at all, since not all writers care to be published.
  • Some don't want us to list writing contests that charge a fee or include magazines whose submissions are competitive. (I do vet the contests and only list ones that seem to be a good deal.) 
  • People complain because the heroine of my comic mysteries uses things like hairspray and a well-placed stiletto heel (and excruciatingly good manners) to battle the bad guys. They say "she sets women back 1000 years," because she doesn't behave like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a dress. (Which I agree would be hilarious, but it's not my story.)
  • Some object to the fact that I have LGBTQ characters in my books. Others say they're not LGBTQ enough.
  • We've also been asked to change the wording of posts or eliminate paragraphs because of some personal meaning or power the complainers have assigned to those words. 
  • I've been called "ageist" for saying we Boomers have more trouble dealing with technology than Millennials who were born into it. (This is where actual Boomers are totally ROTFL.)
  • I got complaints when I compared gangs of online bullies to the Taliban—from people who believe that criticizing the Taliban is an insult to Muslims. (Of course the complainers are the ones insulting Muslims. That's like saying dissing the Charles Manson Family is an insult to Americans.)

It struck me recently that a lot of these complaints are examples of something called The Dunning-Kruger Effect. Dunning and Kruger are scientists at Cornell University who proved that people who are the most confident and vocal are generally the most ignorant and incompetent.

In other words, the loudest complaints usually come from the least-informed people.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being uninformed. We were all born uninformed. But some of us are more open to absorbing information as we move along in life.

Yes, of course we need guardians and watchdogs and whistleblowers. The Internet can feel like the wild west and people who work to keep the general discourse respectful are doing everybody a favor. But there are others who go way beyond this. They want everything censored to reflect their own world view...even if that view is not based on facts or infringes on the personal freedom of others.

Does Censorship Improve a Community?

As far as I know, America's morals weren't improved by banning Lady Chatterley's Lover; teen angst wasn't eradicated by banning Catcher in the Rye; and Islam didn't get a PR boost from the psychopaths who slaughtered the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo and murdered a free speech advocate in Denmark.

Here's a list of the most commonly banned books in the US. From The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it looks like a reading list for a basic course in American literature.

Yes, people should be allowed to choose what they put in front of their eyeballs. I thoroughly dislike ultra-violent books and movies. I lasted about 45 minutes into Game of Thrones before I wanted to throw up. But do I think George R. R. Martin should be banned? Of course not! I think he's probably a genius.

I don't know of any instance in which censorship and suppression of the arts has made a society safer, more prosperous, and/or content.

I get it. Art is scary. Art is messy. Art is diverse...and its diversity may not fit into your sociopolitical comfort zone. But consider the alternative.

Do you really want to be like those thugs from ISIS who destroyed the 2500 year-old artifacts in the Mosul museum?

Physician, Heal Thyself

The Political Correctness Police have always seemed pretty silly to me, even when I agree with their intentions. Usually the people most in need of  political correction are the ones trying to "correct" others.

I remember a time—at the height of the 1970s women's movement—when a male friend turned on me in fury for calling his 3-year-old "a bright little girl".

"She's not a girl, she's a woman!" said he. "The word 'girl' is insulting."

I told him no, the word "girl" is not insulting unless you believe that being a girl is a bad thing.

This was the same era when a boyfriend ordered me not to wear a bra because otherwise people might think he wasn't a feminist. He wouldn't appear in public with me if I wore anything to support my 36 C chest.

My health and comfort didn't matter. His ego did. Talk about unclear on the concept. (No, the relationship didn't last.) 

Most religions and philosophies teach a version of what the Gospels say about how it's better to ignore the dust mote in your neighbor's eye and deal with the big old log in  your own eye. I think the world would be a better place if more people—religious or not—could get their brains around that.

Humor vs. Censorship: Which is More Effective?

I think the original Saturday Night Live did more to raise awareness of gender bias when Dan Aykroyd used the opener, "Jane, you ignorant slut" than anybody who wants to ban the words slut, broad, chippie, hussy, minx, ho, tart, skank, bimbo, tramp, floozie, demimondiane, streetwalker, hussy, trollop, doxy, bawd, jade, harlot, strumpet, and all their disrespectful cousins. (Did I forget any?)

Making fun of people who use words to hurt takes away the power of those words. But burying the words under taboos makes them stronger.

I used to be upset when people called me fat. Now I own it. I quit smoking and slowly became a fat lady, in spite of strict diet and exercise. (The high-carb "low-fat" diet may be the greatest cause of obesity every invented.) But I'm strong and healthy and I've outlived most of my skinny boyfriends. If you have trouble with fat people, you can stay out of my way. And if you're skinny, you do NOT tell me what I can call myself.

Dealing with insults can be like a game of whack-a-mole. Get rid of one and a nastier one will pop up somewhere else. What we need to change is not the way other people talk, but the way we think about ourselves.

I believe the great Richard Pryor gave a stronger message about dignity for all races in his iconic 1975 Saturday Night Live sketch when he delivered the line "dead honky" than all the censorship in the world.

I believe humor, not censorship, is the more powerful weapon for change. And laughter has been proved to be good medicine.

Censorship in the Age of CrowdSourcing

But the Internet age has brought a whole new kind of censorship. As Kathleen Parker said in her column this week, we now must obey a collective "Twitter Conscience."

She asked "will our uber-sensitivity eventually render us humorless robots uttering pre-approved giblets of meaningless verbiage?"

It has already started. Technology has liberated us in many ways, but it also invites the general public to provide input for creative work and shape that work according to their own opinions, tastes, prejudices, and level of (in)competence.

This can be through "enhanced ebooks" that allow a reader to contact an author directly through the reading device. (This is supposed to be coming soon. Maybe it already has. I still have a second generation Kindle, so I'm behind the curve on this.) 

They also do it with comments on blogs, news stories, forums and in customer reviews.

There are also communities created for the purpose of giving feedback. These communities, like Wattpad, Readwave, Readership and many others, allow writers to post work as they write it and get immediate feedback.

These communities seem good for newer writers who don't have an in-person critique group, and I've recommended them.

But veteran publishing industry journalist Porter Anderson wrote a warning about these writing communities recently at Thought Catalog, and his piece struck a chord with me.

He asks "if it takes a village to write your book, is it your book?"

Some people take to these sites and enjoy using them for critique, and that's great. For writers who are able to cherry-pick useful comments, and don't feel forced to make changes by the crowd (or the most vocal members of the crowd), it's an inexpensive way to learn to write, and I still endorse them.

But I fear all this has created a sense of entitlement in the general public, who now think they have the right to change and mold the work of professional artists to their own tastes and world view.

And of course the Dunning-Kruger Effect people are the most likely to feel that entitlement.

So there are two things to consider here:

1) Do We Really Want Our Art to be Created by Consensus?

What immediately pleases the most number of people is not necessarily the best or even the highest-earning work over time. Yes, of course we have examples of authors like Shakespeare and Dickens who created great art that instantly appealed to the masses, but they are exceptions, not the rule.

How many people remember the bestselling novel of 1903, Lady Rose's Daughter by Mary Augusta Ward? Books that were also published in 1903, but didn't sell so well were: The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, The Ambassadors by Henry James, and The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

Nathan Bransford had a great post on the subject last year.  He provided a list of bestsellers of the last century or so. It seems the bestselling novel for 1933 AND '34 was something called Anthony Adverse, by Hervey Allen, and in 1972 through '73 the bestseller was Richard Bach's immortal Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (What? You don't have a copy on your nightstand?)

How many people are still reading Lloyd C. Douglas or James Gould Cozzens, sales-toppers of mid-20th century America?

These authors were popular at a particular time, but they didn't prove to be more popular in the long run than slower-selling authors who were more innovative or had individual vision.

In other words: instant mass appeal doesn't mean long-term success.

And remember Fox cancelled Firefly after only 11 episodes because it "didn't have an audience". Yeah.

2) Almost all Innovative Art is Initially Rejected.

Here's the thing: our most popular art was generally disliked by the public when it first appeared.

Everybody hated the Sound of Music when it came out. It got terrible reviews everywhere.

Thornton Wilder's Our Town—the most-produced play in U.S. history—was initially hated so much the audience walked out on opening night.

Edouard Manet's paintings were considered ridiculous by his peers.

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath was universally panned, banned and burned  across the U.S., even in Steinbeck's own hometown.

In a crowdsourced, market- and consensus-dominated world, we might squelch the Thornton Wilders, Manets, and Steinbecks...and end up with nothing but Sharknado #27, paintings of big-eyed kids, and Fifty Shades of Boring.

Right now, we are living in a golden era of television. From Breaking Bad to Downton Abbey to Orange is the New Black and How to Get Away with Murder, we have amazing art being made for the small screen. And what makes these shows so brilliant?

Because of the smaller audience of cable TV and streaming services, the writer-creator has been allowed more artistic control. Writers like Vince Gilligan, Julian Fellows, Jenji Kohan and Shonda Rhimes are bankable, star-power names because their shows reflect their own unique artistic vision.

Do we really want to give those up for endless reruns of  Real Housewives Dancing with the Biggest Loser?

Your Loudest Critic May be the Least Competent.

Being offended has become a competitive sport in many areas of the Internet. You can see whine-offs happening on book review sites, forums, and comment threads everywhere.

  • "I'm so offended that this book has no gender-neutral green Albanian squirrels!" 
  • "Where are the Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/ Mormon/Baha'i gender-neutral green Albanian squirrels?" 
  • "Not one gender-neutral green Albanian squirrel in this novel has a gluten sensitivity!" 
  • "How dare this author write about gender-neutral green Albanian squirrels when ze is a gender-neutral blue Albanian squirrel?!" 
  • These gender-neutral green Albanian squirrels have no moral character. They copulate like vermin. 
  • This story is cruel and heartless to people who suffer from musiphobia, the fear of rodents.
  • "The word 'squirrel' is an insult to the rodent community. People use the word 'squirrely' to mean mentally deranged. Your use of this word is is hurtful. From now on, call them 'agile, tree-dwelling rodents with bushy tails'!"

There is no way to please people like this. And now I realize I've been wrong to try.

Why? Because they LOVE being offended. It's what they live for.

In trying to please them, I've been robbing them of their source of joy.

I was being cruel and heartless.

Ruth and I don't want to water down our posts for a handful of readers. We average about 90-100K hits a month. There's no way that every post can appeal to every single one of those people.

If you have something different to say, please chime in with a comment. We welcome respectful discussion. (But if it's bullying or spammy or contains ad hominem attacks, we'll delete.)

It's our blog and we reserve the right to express opinions, keep discussion civil, and occasionally laugh at ourselves.

My advice to all of our readers is to do the same: follow your own muse, no matter where it takes you. Listen to criticism, but don't let yourself be bullied by it.

The world needs unique voices!

And most of all: don't censor yourself because a few complainers high on self-righteous rage think the world should revolve around their personal belief system or unresolved psychological issues.

I've written before about how taking too much advice from beta readers or a critique group can lead to some pretty awful writing.

But when I wrote that piece last summer, I hadn't yet learned about the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I didn't take into account that, although it may seem as if the whole group wants you to do this or that, the negative critique may only come from one or two confident, but less-than-informed persons.

The wiser readers may be afraid to speak up. That's the Dunning-Kruger Effect, too: The more you know, the more you're likely to hesitate or question yourself.

Learn the basics, listen to criticism, then follow your instincts and ignore the noisy incompetents. It's your work. Don't let anybody bully you out of your right to follow your own artistic path.

Some people think there is only one path: right in back of them, with your lips firmly attached to their behinds.

Those people do not matter. Your art does.

What about you, Scriveners? Do you prefer that your book reflect your own vision, or that of a group or community? Do you think humor is dangerous? Do you think people should be allowed to decide what to call themselves even if somebody disapproves? How much input should other people have in an artist's work? Have you felt pressured to censor your work? How did you react? Do you have an attack of the vapors when you hear the word "strumpet"?



from March 1st to March 4th! 

"Anne R. Allen’s book of short stories explores womanhood in all seasons. I’ve read this book twice and get something new to appreciate each time. It is the kind of book one returns to periodically, just to revisit characters and stories like old friends that help clarify ages and stages of life and the changing world. Her poems are timely, tying stories together with theme, grace, and humor.",,,Mary J. Caffrey

a short book of short stories


Humorous portraits of rebellious women at various stages of their lives. From aging Betty Jo, who feels so invisible she contemplates robbing a bank, to neglected 10-year-old Maude, who turns to a fantasy Elvis for the love she's denied by her patrician family, to a bloodthirsty, Valley-Girl version of Madam Defarge, these women—young and old—are all rebelling against the stereotypes and traditional roles that hold them back. Which is, of course, why Grandma bought that car…

Narrated by C.S. Perryess and Claire Vogel


The Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, Managed by Australian Book Review. Entry fee $20 (AUS). First prize of $5000 and supplementary prizes of $2000 and $1000. Stories must be 2000-5000 words. Deadline May 1st.

Writer's Digest Writing Compeition. This is their biggie. First prize is $5000 plus your photo on the cover of Writer's Digest. Entry fees are a little pricey at $25 for a story, $15 for a poem but there are lots of big prizes. Categories for many genres of fiction, Creative nonfic, essays, screenplays, and poetry. Early Bird deadline May 4th.

The Vestal Review is looking for FLASH FICTION. Submissions are accepted February-May for the Vestal Review, the oldest journal devoted exclusively to flash fiction. 500 words or less. Humor is a plus. Pays $$ plus copies.

CANADIANS! The Kobo First Book Contest is for you! Did you publish your first book in 2014? Do you have a Canadian passport? You could win $10,000! Literary Fiction, Genre Fiction and Non-Fiction categories. Winners will be announced in June. Deadline March 31.

Chronicle Books Great Tumblr Book Search Do you have a Tumblr blog you think would make a good book? Here's the contest for you! Categories are ART, FOOD & DRINK and HUMOR. Deadline March 2nd. 

Looking for a cover designer? A fantastic new designer has just opened up shop. His name is  Daniel Steiminger  His designs are fabulous and really original. Reasonable prices. Grab him before he's booked solid.

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Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The squirrel related comments were hysterical - and sadly, they happen so often. There are no pleasing those people. And there are words and phrases we're afraid to use for fear someone is going to slam us. (And crap, minx is bad? I just used it last week. Oh well.)
If you try to please everyone, you'll please no one. Just do your thing!

March 1, 2015 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

The real problem is that a lot of the newbie writers do take complaints about content like that seriously. There are some writers who will indie publish a book, then rush back to revise to answer a one star review. It's fear, plain and simple. Fear of not being perfect, of being rejected.

Writing -- and any art really -- is the hardest thing because you throw yourself out into public view and not everyone is going to like it. If you're looking for validation, it's blow to the ego. It makes it really easy to hear the negative comments from the people who like to complain as a call for action when it really shouldn't be.

The reason the wiser writers tend not to speak up is because they often get shot down by the group think. Everyone hears things so many times that it becomes true even when it isn't. One of the things that drives me crazy is when I visit a blog where there's writing advice and everyone cheerleads in the comments.

It's like no one can think and dissent, and that gives the complainers more of a voice because they stand out. And people start to question if they're right because they're only the dissenters.

Unfortunately, what also happens when you get those cheerleading type posts, the people who would disagree in discussion for legitimate reasons tend not to post because the post author often blows them off. There's at least one blog like that where if you don't agree, the blog post author will tell you it works for everyone and the problem must be you, not that there's a different way of doing something. That feeds the same problem over and over.

March 1, 2015 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Ann Bennett said...

All I can say is this is such a neutral blog with some very honest advice for writers. No I am not going to follow all of it. I would like to see me remember it all first. But you give all the novices a step up. So many predators want to make money off of people's desires.
You are right about censorship. You cannot limit your artistic statements to the lowest common denominator which is money. That has been written. It is called, "Fifty Shades of Gray" at the moment. I had to get that little jab in. I was bored reading the synopsis of the book.
Really, just thanks for all you have written. It has truly helped me define what I am doing. I have felt a times that writing was a ridiculous thing I had started. I mean shouldn't I have started out better than I did. I now know it doesn't matter. I write for myself. One day, I may publish or may not.

March 1, 2015 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--I had fun with those squirrels. LOL. A lot of those are taken from real reviews, Yeah, Ricky Nelson said it best "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself."

March 1, 2015 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I get myself in trouble with my humor all the time. My deadpan delivery plus talking about things nobody else knows about makes others think I'm making fun of them, mad at them, what have you. I've tried to disclaimer, with "if you're confused about whether I'm being mean, then I'm just trying to be funny", but that only goes so far. So no, I don't dig consensus opinions. And humor is interpretive, always has been and always will be. It didn't occur to me so many people would take so much time to make "I'm offended, change that!" comments but I guess that's another facet of my occasional disconnect from the rest of the population.

In short, write on! Banning books or topics improves nothing and indeed (in my opinion) detracts.

March 1, 2015 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Heather Kelly said...

Your blog. Your words. People have a lot of balls to tell you otherwise--which is what they are telling you if they ask you to change stuff. Not that the goal is to make someone angry, but if you aren't, then you probably aren't saying anything of substance at all. Thanks for being a part of my supportive writing community!!

March 1, 2015 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger The Hostess with the Mostest said...

You missed trull.

March 1, 2015 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--Everything you say here is true. I hate seeing newbies treating one-star comments as valid critique. I just read the reviews of one of my favorite authors and somebody who has no idea what comedy is gave it a one star and about 6 other humor-impaired people chimed in. If she were a newbie instead of a bestselling author, she might take that garbage to heart. Luckily her fans ignore that stuff.

Groupthink can be dangerous in any field. There are many blogs where I don't comment either, because I know I'll be jumped on. That's why we like people to speak up in the comments here, and we respect differing opinions. There really is no such thing as "one size fits all."

It may be that the most important part of learning to be a professional writer is learning what to ignore. All great art is hated by somebody. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, as always!

March 1, 2015 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ann--Thanks for the kudos. It means a lot. We really do try to help newer writers avoid pitfalls that can cost time and money.

And we all feel ridiculous. I'm just at the point in my WIP when I'm thinking "this will never come together! What was I thinking?" But it I have faith in my muse. I'm sure when you're ready for the world to see your work, you'll know. :-)

March 1, 2015 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jennifer--Humorists have a very hard time in this new crowd-sourced world. That's because humor is subjective. What's funny to one group of people will not be funny to another. Nothing is funny to everybody. As I mentioned in my comment to Linda, I see reviews of the best comic writers publishing today and there are always furious one-stars saying the story isn't "realistic" and the characters aren't "admirable".

I want to scream at them "if it were different, it wouldn't be funny!"

Comedy writers are all Rodney Dangerfields. We get no respect. But we need them. Keep up the funny stuff! Laughter is the best medicine!

March 1, 2015 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Heather--We certainly never intend to anger anybody (Except maybe bogus agents and publishing scammers)

Yeah, I figure I should be able to write what I want on my blog and they can write what they want on theirs. It would seem fair. But not everybody wants fair. They want control.

We're glad you're part of our blog community!

March 1, 2015 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Hostess--I didn't even know that word for strumpet! I had to look it up. What a cool Scrabble word! Merriam Webster says it's a Middle English word that comes from the Old French "troller", meaning to hunt.

See, people, this blog does have redeeming social importance. It may get you some Scrabble points!


March 1, 2015 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger pat said...

I remember back when you wrote that twitter was like a high school lunchroom. It's still the most accurate thing I've ever read about the platform.

March 1, 2015 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Tracey Meredith said...

Due to your interesting and entertaining blog, I was forced to read the whole lot in one go, and now my roast potatoes have burned. I am appalled that you obviously haven't considered those of us in the UK who are cooking tea at the moment. Please be more considerate in the future and ensure your blog reaches me and my fellow Brits after tea. Those potatoes don't grow on tree, you know!..?

March 1, 2015 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Ann Best said...

Wonderful post, Anne. I'm against censorship. I'm all for agency, that is, the right to choose. You're never going to please everyone with your writing....neither am I....there is always someone who will be offended, or angry, or hateful, sometimes right in your own family. And if I don't like a site on the Internet, I just check out of it....someone else might like it, so they stay. Same with reading books...you don't like it, close it and go to something else. As for humor...yes, we need it. Do we ever need it. But good humor is difficult to do.

I think we need to look inward more than we do, and stop pointing fingers at others with whom we might disagree. I just heard something I like: Wisdom is the beginning of seeing yourself clearly.

As for critiques of our writing...unless it IS a group effort, then we as the individual writer in the end decide what we want to leave in, what we want to take out. If it's sincere criticism...well, we still make that final decision.

I say, just keep doing what you want on your blog. You (and Ruth) have posted some marvelous information and pieces of wisdom. I've never been offended by anything you've written.

March 1, 2015 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—What you said badly needed to be said. Thank you! These loathsome behaviors and the effects on those who are subjected to them whether IRL or on the internet are devastating. Over-the-top rage, bullying, censorious and controlling behavior verge into sociopathic, narcissistic, borderline territories.

Those indulging in such conduct are ALWAYS right. Everyone else is ALWAYS wrong. No one else matters and no one else counts. Self-righteous and self-pitying, they destroy and demonize, leaving a landscape of toxic waste in their trail.

Did you know that when Jackson Pollack’s work was first shown, he was referred to as “Jack The Dripper?” His canvases elicited venomous fury because they represented radical departure from what at the time was considered “art.”

March 1, 2015 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ann--Thanks! You make a good point about looking inward. I think people would rather wrap themselves in emotional bubble wrap than develop the inner strength to endure being offended. But there is always going to be something offensive out there, so we need to learn to deal.

With critiques, even if we're open to suggestions, we need to be able to dismiss what doesn't fit with our own artistic vision, even if a bunch of people disagree.

March 1, 2015 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Pat--Ha! All of social media is a lot like going back to high school. Which is why we really need to use it in moderation!

March 1, 2015 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tracy--ROTFL! I love English humor. Your comment is a perfect example. It's funny on multiple levels and oh-so-dry. Thanks!

March 1, 2015 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--We've endured a lot of it, and you've let me censor your work and that of our guests, but it was just getting absurd. I realized I was letting myself be bullied.

Jackson Pollack is another great example of an artist who met terrible resistance. If we lived in a 100% crowdsourced world, we'd have nothing but Thomas Kinkade wannabes on every wall.

March 1, 2015 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Judith said...

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! Lifting my glass high for you, Anne R. Allen. So happy to see sanity on the Internets.

March 1, 2015 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Judith--Thanks for the huzzahs! Sanity does seem to be an archaic concept to a lot of people, doesn't it?

March 1, 2015 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Bravo Anne. I'm raising my hand as a mix of the good and bad all over this post. I revere freedom of speech and the arts. I rise to the bait in argument VERY easily. I want everyone to be happy (and especially to be happy with me). I see nothing wrong with a good argument- and bizarre but true, I can take offence and not take it personally at the same time. I go in a funk for two days, talking to myself, and I nevah (well, hardly evah) think I'm wrong. We're SUPPOSED to argue things out, who should be permanently angry to learn they were wrong? School- it's what's for your brain's dinner.
But if I did think there were people who had no right to comment, or write as they do, you'd be WAYYYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy down at the end of the line. What an encouraging advocate you and Ruth have been for newbies, for indies, for lack-of-confidence-ies, for all of us.
I saw one such instance of the kind of treatment you were referring to in this post, over on that other social network, and you didn't have to get angry. I was all rolling up my sleeves and ready to jump ugly for you. Another mixed-up trait I have.

March 1, 2015 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Brava to freedom of speech. Thanks for an important post. Nobody wants to live in a world that supports the "survival of the whiniest"

March 1, 2015 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Will--Some people love to argue and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact some of them get paid a lot to do so. They're called lawyers. :-) The kind of people I'm talking about don't so much argue as order. No discussion allowed.

I don't know which one of the objections you've seen. I get them on FB and Twitter and G+ and in forums. Goodreads was so bad I dropped out of all my groups and don't go there anymore.

I do try not to show anger. I hope I didn't do it in the instance you saw. I think it's better to ignore and move on. It would have been sweet of you to "jump ugly" on our behalf, but that's usually what these people want. Then they can get their self-righteous rage fix.

March 1, 2015 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--I am getting tired of the whiners. They seem to be everywhere. There is no such thing as an offense-free world. They need to learn to lighten up and enjoy the good things.

March 1, 2015 at 12:30 PM  
OpenID 1writeway.com said...

"I fear we're moving to a sort of neo-Darwinism: survival of the whiniest." One of many great lines in this post. And you are so spot-on about Firefly (sigh ... I miss that show). To think that your blog has been subjected to such criticism surprised me at first. It's a writing blog! It's about writing! How can anyone be offended by a writing blog? Okay, there are people who live to complain and who live to get a rise out of others. They are difficult to ignore, but when what they ask for is ridiculous, then ignore them you must.

I recently joined Wattpad although I haven't posted any writing on it yet. (Can I have more hours in the day, please?!) I understand the danger of letting one's work be reduced to something that would appeal to the lowest common denominator of reader. But there is something appealing about having an online writing group, especially for an introvert like myself.

March 1, 2015 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Cyndi Pauwels said...

What a wonderfully on-target post! Bravo!

Sharing far and wide -

March 1, 2015 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Nancy Adams said...

A fellow librarian has a T-shirt that proudly says "In my library, there is something to offend everyone." Kudos for taking on this issue! (And I LOVE the squirrels.)

March 1, 2015 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

1writeway--I found Firefly while channel surfing. My jaw dropped when I realized what I was watching...on network TV! So brilliant. I re-watch it on Netflix, but there could have been so much more if they'd given it a chance. It would probably still be running if it had been on SyFy in the first place.

I sure hear you about these pesky 24 hr days. I'm on Wattpad and have lots of followers and have never once had time to post.

I agree that online writing groups can be a boon, which is why I continue to promote them. But people need to wear their emotional armor.

March 1, 2015 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Cyndi--Thanks for sharing!

March 1, 2015 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nancy--I need one of those tee-shirts!

March 1, 2015 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Maria D'Marco said...

oh goodness! thank you!! Some very sad things have happened in my life recently and when I reached the point in your post about Dan and Jane, I literally fell off my couch! I had forgotten about those glorious sketches -- so so wonderful!

The vast sea of Big Babies (a much much larger 'generation' than us Boomers) is disturbing in its intensity of purpose and nearly obscene lust for anonymous power. They exist in a stifling mentality that surely can only stunt creativity and squelch progressive thoughts.

I was taught that if I believed in certain things, I should be prepared to stand behind my convictions - in person - in the streets - in town hall meetings - and in face2face discussions. I was taught to listen first, absorb the information, and then determine if I agreed or rejected that information. Regardless of the outcome, the information was part of my growth and evolution as a person.

I don't think the whiners have a sense of humor. I just don't see any evidence of it. Personally, I'm concerned by the appearance that they operate solely within a state of fear.

Anyway, thanks for the laugh -- and keep an eye on the horizon for clouds of dust -- whiners spook easily and can stampede in a lemming-like frenzy...

March 1, 2015 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Catie Rhodes said...

Hysterically funny and true! Earlier today (on Facebook) that quote about "becoming real" from THE VELVETEEN RABBIT was making the rounds. If you don't know the one I mean, it ends with "But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." Something (that felt suspiciously like a great truth) hit me. Here it is: Part of being "Real" is learning to recognize the People Who Don't Understand™ for what they are and to give them the exact amount of attention they deserve--which is absolutely, positively none. The reason to ignore them is there's no point in wasting energy on them. They don't *want* to understand. As you so aptly put it, their ecstasy comes from whining.

March 1, 2015 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Hi, Anne, replied earlier but somehow lost my comment. One of your very best posts. Loved it. Brought to mind one of my fav playwrights, Henrik Ibsen, and how many of his later and some of his greater works like Ghosts, received horrendous reviews and walkouts. How dare he question society's mores and morals? Great stuff here. Keep it up. Paul

March 1, 2015 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Suzie Quint said...

I applaud you taking a stand. Yes, the perpetually offended are looking to slap everyone into line--the line they define. It's an arrogance that needs to be resisted, and I'm glad you've decided not to let them bully you.

March 1, 2015 at 1:13 PM  
OpenID fornow said...

One detail you didn't mention was that popularity attracts the loud voices. Their confidence seeks an audience. That's not what you want to give them. But it does mean you have to spend the time screening comments, emails, etc. It's the simple consequence of popularity. And that means you're doing something very right. ;-)

Unrestricted venting is a bit of a disease, really. No constraints to moderate it. Places like Youtube are full of the indignant and they're now trying to figure out how to control it. I've seen a few forums shut down because they couldn't manage the agendas of a few people. The loud confident voices unfortunately attract followers. One site I know where they tried to squelch it after the fact, the loud set up another site, where the forum plots how to attack the original site.

What happened to having a life??

March 1, 2015 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Well done, Anne, and I think your decision is the only way to go. Lots of things in this world offend me. In response, I walk away. I don't try to force the offending person to change to accommodate me. But a lot of people seem to miss this point and think if they don't like it you shouldn't say or do it. Like the people who fight against gay marriage. Against gay marriage? Fine. Your prerogative. Don't marry someone of the same sex. There ends the part of the world you control. (And I think control is a key word here.) Barry Eisler once said to me, "For some, high dudgeon is its own reward." Truer words were never spoken. Good for you for speaking your mind and drawing your line in the sand.

March 1, 2015 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Maureen C. Berry said...

Hi Anne and Ruth,

This is my first comment here. I am a recent subscriber to your site. As a result of not being around for very long, I haven't read any offensive remarks, nor have I been offended. I have seen plenty of what you refer on other sites when you say your commenters are offended and have no problem telling you their opinion.

This topic of sensitivity is out of control and not reserved to online as you are aware. What strikes me as absurd is if someone doesn't like what they are reading on your site, or any other site, it only takes one click to move on to something else!

I find your posts highly informative, funny, and timely. I love that you call yourself fat, and aren't afraid to stand up for yourself and your beliefs.

Lastly, thanks for the free books! I look forward to more of whatever you want to share.

March 1, 2015 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Political correctness is a threat to America, for we have freedom and in the PC world we do not have the freedom to think for ourselves, we must think alike. I loathe PC and believe people who are easily offended have deep emotional problems. I can not believe there are school boards who ban Huckleberry Finn as a racist book. They neither understand racism nor how to read a book. It is sad. Thank you for your article

March 1, 2015 at 1:43 PM  
OpenID sallyember.com said...

More like middle school/junior high; but, yes. Very much so.

March 1, 2015 at 1:45 PM  
OpenID sallyember.com said...

My favorite part: "I fear we're moving to a sort of neo-Darwinism: survival of the whiniest." Priceless.
Personally, I don't give a F what most people think or write about anything at all; I've been a feminist activist since the age of 3 and now I'm 60. I've earned that right. I've been wearing purple for DECADES (who would wait to be "old" to do that?) and disregarding idiotic remarks for much longer. Life is too short to give even one moment's thought or response to any ill-intentioned commentary.

Great post! My advice? Care less and write more.
Best to you!

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

March 1, 2015 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Maria--I agree that this problem seems to divide partly along generational lines. Boomers grew up fighting FOR liberation and freedom of expression, and we value the power humor has to do good as well as entertain.

Which means we're flummoxed by the younger, pro-censorship, anti-humor crowd. I fear we may be losing, since they see us as a bunch of useless old people. But honestly, they need to have more fun or they're going to turn the world into a more miserable place than they found it.

March 1, 2015 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Catie--Thanks! This post needed a quote from the Velveteen Rabbit! In a way none of us are "real" on the Internet, so we have to work to bring IRL values to it and be understanding and not hide behind anonymity.

March 1, 2015 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mindprinter. So sorry Blogger ate your comment! I'm glad you liked the post. Yes! Ibsen is another example of a "non-crowd-pleaser" who has managed to be very popular for a lot longer than his crowd-pleasing peers.

March 1, 2015 at 1:59 PM  
OpenID sallyember.com said...

Just to clarify: Calling something or someone "PC" and then denigrating our opinions is akin to calling someone a "Feminazi" for being an activist for equal rights, a la Rush Limbaugh and his crew. To those I say: shut up. You're insultingly moronic.

Political Correctness is NOT what you seem to think it is, nor is holding people accountable for appropriate language, concepts and anti-bias behavior and laws something NOT to support.

When being PC became "wrong" is somehow just at the time that CONSERVATIVES and REACTIONARIES took over the conversation by purchasing most of the USA media airwaves. Consider that.

Do you really want to be anti-PC? That means YOU are in favor of: racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ethnocentrism, ableism, unequal rights for women, unequal pay for women, and laws that support this outrageous nonsense. Ponder that.

Instead of being cavalierly dismissive of all activists who ask/demand that people not use derogatory language, look more carefully at who is being appropriately respectful of and demanding that respect from others in their requests and complaints vs. who is an ego-ridden and/or ignorant idiot (Anne's father of the three-year-old and her boyfriend, e.g., as she pointed out, were idiots, NOT in the least actually "PC.").

You really want to be on the right side of history on this one, Believe me.

Best to you,

Sally Ember, Ed.D. PC and PROUD OF IT

March 1, 2015 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Suzie--Normally I don't sweat the small stuff and let the whiners have their way, But true bullies figure if they can push you over once, they'll come back for more. Can't let that happen.

March 1, 2015 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

fornow--You're right on all of it. Bestsellers always get the nastiest reviews. Lots of fearful people would rather knock down successful people than seek their own success.

It's sad when this happens in forums and blogs. I've stopped visiting some blogs because a few loud, uninformed people make all the noise.

And you're right that banishing the nasties can backfire. That gives them a common enemy to unite against. And, as you say, these are usually sad people with nothing else to do..

March 1, 2015 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Catherine--Thanks for stopping by! I know that you and a number of other hugely successful authors have been victims of swarms of nasty reviews by some lunatic fringe group. It can make a mess of your Amazon or social media platform.

And Barry Eisler's quote carries a powerful truth. High Dudgeon is not only a reward. It's a drug. These people are high on their own rage..

We shouldn't let them bully us any more than we would take orders from some drunk on the street.

March 1, 2015 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Maureen--Thanks for taking the time to comment. I know we have lots of happy readers who don't comment, but we appreciate you too.

You're right that this is not simply an online problem. It permeates all aspects of our lives. We have some very small tails wagging some very big dogs.

I hope you enjoy the book!

March 1, 2015 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Terry--I have to agree with you that "PC" is a term that has been hijacked by extremists and incompetents (like the boyfriend who wouldn't let me wear a bra.)

I believe the best way for people be treated with more dignity is not by controlling or bullying the general public. There are better ways to raise awareness (humor and art being powerful weapons) We can help children battle bullies and prejudice in a healthy way, not become bullies themselves.

I agree that "politically correct" has become synonymous with a certain type of bullying that doesn't help anybody.

March 1, 2015 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sally--I guess part of what prompted me to write this post is I'm desperately trying to finish my WIP, which is all about character assassination and bullying. (From Richard III to the contemporary Twitter Fail) and it was distracting me from being able to write more. :-) Thanks for your encouragement!

March 1, 2015 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Joanne Lowery said...

What a magnificent Manifesto. Makes me want to memorize it, print it on an arm band and wear it every time I sit in the pilot seat of my writing chair. Along with my valkyrie hat with the wings.

March 1, 2015 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's a comment from Judythe Guarnera, who sent it by email.

Of course you know this, but censoring it to conform to someone else’s socio-religious-political beliefs, it would no longer be your blog, your voice and it is your blog. I belong to a group of women who meet once a month and discuss topics, often current news or beliefs, and we came across some interesting articles from scientific journals that talk about tipping point, etc. It suggests that studies show that people with rigid beliefs find it impossible to hear arguments that clash with those beliefs. They get more and more angry each time those beliefs are challenged. The agitation they experience comes from the cognitive dissonance they are experiencing over the clash. The tipping point comes when they have become so uncomfortable with the dissonance and then something bad happens and they are able to discard their belief.

One example, which I will summarize is about a woman who feared having her child immunized because of current rhetoric in her group. Then her second child, also not immunized died at the age of three months. Several other things had happened to add to her agitation, she reached her tipping point and became a crusader for immunization; also recognizing, not only that it was important for her child, but accepting her responisiblity to keep safe children who for health reasons could not be immunized.

So, my friend, my advice to you is not to defend your position, but just keep putting it out there so it adds to the agitation of the counter-believes and helps them to reach their tipping point.

Food for thought.


March 1, 2015 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Joanne-- Yes! I need one of those hats! We need Valkyrie writing hats. Somebody needs to start making them. I didn't really think of this as a Manifesto. Maybe it would be a real manifesto if I had the hat. :-)

March 1, 2015 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger BloggerJoe said...

I've often found that when someone says, "I find that offensive" or "That offends me" what they really mean is "I don't like/agree with it." People are free to dislike my words. People are free to disagree with my words. People are even free to take offense at my words. People are not free to tell me what to say or to write. If they have a differing viewpoint, they are free to write anything they like to show that.

March 1, 2015 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Stephen del Mar said...

Best post ever. I've really enjoyed your blog. Please don't let the idiots win and start to self-censor. I'd hate to live in a world where I agreed with everything I read/watch and I'm never challenged or "offended." Thanks for the time you put into to this.

March 1, 2015 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Judythe--Thanks for the insightful comment. You're right that some people cannot be reasoned with. All you can do is ignore them.

I discovered that by unsubscribing to all the political email I got, I stopped feeling so angry and ready to jump on everybody who disagreed with a "party line." I started seeing things from different angles and realized how the other side was being manipulated too. Most of us are happier in the center, but there's lots of money to be made by pushing people into the angry fringes. Alas.

March 1, 2015 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Maria D'Marco said...

I have said for years that an 'army' of women over 50 could rule the world...thinking, of course, of all the women I'd known for years, who were now moving into their 'fives' and 'sixes', that had always been fighters for rights, happiness, and life freedoms - especially freedom of speech!

March 1, 2015 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

BloggerJoe--Good insight. "I'm offended" often means "I disagree". But it carries with it the sense of entitlement to control other's opinions. It's that entitlement that is the problem.

March 1, 2015 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Stephen--I'm so glad it's resonating with people. And you're right. How boring to live in a world where you never heard anything you disliked or disagreed with. And how can we live in a world where nobody is ever offended? It''s like trying to create a world where nobody poops.

March 1, 2015 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Yowza! Major thunderstorm here. We never have thunderstorms. So if I disappear, it's just a power outage!

March 1, 2015 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger LG O'Connor said...

Great post, Anne. I have several of your posts printed and on my desk, which says a lot since I live mostly paperless. If people spent more time helping others (like you and Ruth do in this blog) and spreading good karma (instead of creating bad) than being unjustly offended, maybe they'd be less miserable and live longer, happier lives. I had to chuckle when I saw the comment about someone being offended because you promoted contests with fees. Huh? Shaking my head over here. Blue gluten-free squirrels indeed. Glad I'm free and live in America.

March 1, 2015 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger PeggyB said...

Wow, Anne, you covered it all. This was an awesome post. I have "friends" who are so negative that today they will argue that the sky is yellow because you said blue, and next week if you say hey, the sky is sometimes yellow, they get frothing at the mouth because IT'S BLUE!!!! I avoid them, and don't answer. It makes ME feel better because I know that argument doesn't work, and it makes THEM feel worse because I won't argue.
Thank you, thank you, for this post!

March 1, 2015 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Deb Atwood said...

Oh, my! I had no idea you were so bombarded by would-be censors. How dreary. I enjoyed reading the article on the incompetence factor. And that led me to an article on the Ig Nobel Prizes. What a fun way to while away a Sunday afternoon! And I so remember Johnathan Livingston Seagull...

March 1, 2015 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

LG--I'm honored that you commit some of my posts to treeware :-) Yeah, you know it's easier to help than to hinder. And it's more fun. Yeah. there's a whole culture of "everything should be free" that's hard to deal with. No, no it's GREEN gluten free squirrels. Now you've gone and offended the blue squirrel community. LOL.

March 1, 2015 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Peggy--That's the way Petruchio drove Kate crazy in Taming of the Shrew! "I say it is the moon. No it is the sun!" Shakespeare knew that stuff was abusive. People who love to argue just to make other people feel bad are to be avoided at all cost.

March 1, 2015 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Deb--I love the IgNobel prizes! Dunning-Kruger explains a whole lot of human behavior. And yes, I had a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

March 1, 2015 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's another emailed comment. I think Blogger must be especially cranky today.

This is from Krystina Kellingly:

I've only just found your blog and now, almost immediately, you go and post something I pretty much need to write my own blog in answer to. However, I'm going to control myself (I hope).

Firstly, I'd very much like to thank you for taking the time and trouble to share the things you've probably spent hours discovering. Secondly, thank you for interesting, helpful, amusing posts.

I agree with you that it's those less informed individuals who always shout loudest - not for nothing is the old saying 'empty barrels make the most noise'. And, I'm maybe a bit peculiar anyways because it's my strange idea that you write to tell your story. So, if that story doesn't happen to need a purple furred ferret with cross-dressing tendencies then, you know, you don't put him in there.

Also have to agree that listening to criticism just for the sake of criticism is a bad idea. A long time ago I decided to do an MA in creative writing, I already had a first class degree in it and the university tutors had genuinely liked my writing. The tutor running the MA did not. Her first comment was 'Well, it's the sort of thing that makes a best seller but you'll have to do better to get an MA.’ How I wish I had had the courage to tell her to stick her MA and that I'd rather have a best seller, thanks. Instead I did my best to become a literary writer and I believe that directly caused me to lose my opportunity with a visiting publisher who said, although the novel was obviously the product of a phenomenal writing brain, he couldn't quite get behind it. I understand that, because, neither could I in its literary incarnation. The result of my year of constant demoralization – I was the only commercial fiction writer amongst a crowd of literary writers – was that I was unable to write at all for ten years. I've just restarted and I'm being told by my old agent that my heroine is not feisty enough. This time I'm going to stick with my gut and with my story.

Please keep right on expressing your opinions on everything - if I disagree - no worries, I've finally learned to think for myself.

Krystina Kellingley

March 1, 2015 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Krystina--I can't tell you how many MA and MFA students have had the same experience. I now tell people, if you write commercial fiction, even if your work is on the literary side, like Margaret Atwood, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Anne Tyler, or Nick Hornby, don't go for an academic degree. The MFA world and the publishing world are in different galaxies. An MFA teaches you to teach, not to write. It's a great way to prepare yourself for academia, but not to be a professional writer.

How sad that you paid money for a "year of constant demoralization." and then had your muse completely stifled.

I wish you the very best of luck now that you're following your own path. I know you'll make it!

March 1, 2015 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger dolorah said...

"It's our blog and we reserve the right to express opinions"

That's the spirit Ladies! I heartfully agree. I've enjoyed nearly all your posts. Sometimes I click away because the subject doesn't interest me, but I have never been offended. I happen to like diversity. And as you say, can't please everyone, all the time, so why try. Be your informative, ironic, zany, articulate selves; and wear those stilettos while writing it all. I do believe those "whiniest" people are the first and most vindictive internet bullies and shamers.

Some people need to grow up.

March 1, 2015 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Judith Mercado said...

Please don't do anything differently than you've always done because what you've always done is brilliant.

March 1, 2015 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dolorah--Thanks so much. I think you're right that a lot of this behavior comes from childishness. People who think they deserve to be kept in a safe, womb-like environment forever. Life isn't always easy and it's certainly not always fair. We need to learn to be resilient. We also need to protect those weaker than us with kindness, instead of attacking everything we don't understand or can't control.

March 1, 2015 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Judith--Thanks so much! You've been with this blog pretty much from day one, and I really appreciate that.

March 1, 2015 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger John Pearce said...

Put this in TextExpander: "It's my blog. Piss off."

March 1, 2015 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Walt Socha said...

You may find John Cleese's version of The Dunning-Kruger Effect to be of interest:


March 1, 2015 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

Anne, I am sure that you and Ruth can see by the comments that you have hit a vital nerve.

Okay ... this might be why I will not engage diatribes ... and we all know it is the major reason we got Politically Incorrect ... which eventually changed its name ... and was also sent to the "safety" of paid cable networks. I guess if you pay to listen to Bill ... it's okay that he can intelligently insult stuff like you are talking about here.

My knee-jerk (and I emphasis the word "jerk") reaction is that there is no way ... none in the known universe ... that anyone can please everyone all the time ... so you might as well insult some of them some of the time and be content to gain approval from a few most of the time.

I love that we still have the ability to not like each other. And I think you and Ruth should not censor a single post, paragraph, sentence, word of one single letter of the alphabet. With 26 of them to string together in whatever configuration you design, we all have the choice to NOT READ them.

We can still not post a comment, or block a subscription to a blog. We can still delete and unfriend. We can not buy that book, not watch that movie, and turn off the radio or TV with one click.

Don't blame or censor something you already choose to read. Hey, if you guys want to be retro-hippie-rebels or right-wingnuts ... good for you. If I don't like your flavor of the day, I'll pass.

The topic of censorship has been visited and revisited for decades and no doubt it will continue.

So ... do your thing ... have fun and keep us smiling and informed of whatever you damn well please. If someone doesn't like it ... they can flock off :)

March 1, 2015 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

John--Actually, being an Old Hippie Californian, I prefer the "f" word. :-) Thanks!

March 1, 2015 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Walt--ROTFL! This is brilliant. I should have known that David Dunning would be a friend of John Cleese! Thanks for this. I know the link doesn't come out live in Blogger, but anybody who wants to cut and paste--this is funny and under a minute. Way worth watching!

March 1, 2015 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

WHAT? I'm blown away that some people have been offended by your blog! It's one of the most useful, entertaining blogs out there. I only subscribe to a few blogs, and yours is one of them. I know that I can read informative posts with humor on Sundays (or sometimes later in week, if I'm too busy to check it out on Sunday). Bring on the sarcasm. I love it.

To be honest, I comment each time, but don't read the other comments ahead of me. So I was completely unaware that this was an issue on your blog.

Please keep doing what you're doing. No need to worry about the rest of us. I absolutely appreciate your wit and wisdom.

March 1, 2015 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

This post is brilliant. Always, your columns are worth reading, Anne, but this one is exceptional. Not only do you lift the veil on a serious issue, but you do it in a way that is thoughtful and civilized. Never strident.

When you write comedy, you learn early that any comedy you write - even the most good-natured - will offend somebody somewhere. It's troubling for gals like us who just want to bring a smile to people's faces and lift their spirits with humour.

Thanks for your honesty and courage. I'm going to rescue a few Albanian green squirrels now, before they become extinct.

March 1, 2015 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence--I loved Bill Maher when he WAS politically incorrect. But when he started dissing fat people and those of us who may have faith that there might be something in the universe more powerful than humans...then I had a problem. Close-minded doctrine crept in there. I love his humor and still watch him when there's a free HBO weekend, but I think the left can be as insensitive and dictatorial as the right (and there are oblivious people in the center as well) when they don't allow for diversity--ALL diversity--not just the kind that makes people feel smug and cozy.

We like to keep our minds all the way open. That's what our generation has always been about. Let's hope our heirs can keep that openness happening.

March 1, 2015 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--Thanks. Actually, our commenters almost never complain. We get the complaints from other venues. Mostly if somebody shares our posts on other platforms. Our readers and subscribers are wonderfully supportive. Thanks for letting us know you appreciate our humor as well as our writing tips.

March 1, 2015 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melodie--I have to admit this post was partly prompted by some clueless reviews of your books--and those of all my favorite authors--as well as the pile-up of anti-humor comments we've been getting.

It's amazing to me how many people simply HATE comedy. They not only don't get humor, but they hate the fact it exists. What sad, sad, little lives they must lead. I realize some people have brain disorders that don't allow them to get whimsy and irony and nuance, but why do they want to rob other people of that kind of pleasure?

The green Albanian gender-neutral squirrels need you. They deserve your support! They may not be quite as endangered as comic writers, but they need help.

March 1, 2015 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Blogger strikes again. Here's another great comment that didn't come through, so he sent it to me in email: from Ron Eckert:

Anne & Ruth:

Think this is the first time I've posted although I've been reading
your blog for some time (usually the e-mailed version). However, what
you wrote today hit on one of my pet peeves: people not taking
responsibility for their own actions.

I'm not quite old enough to be a Boomer and not young enough to be
GenX...sort of in that transition generation. Grew up as computer
technology started infiltrating our lives. However, I have noticed a
distinct difference between my age group and younger generations.

As a DVM who has completed a residency, I taught students in the
professional veterinary program. One of the things I (and others)
noticed was the growing need of younger students to be spoon-fed
everything. I had a number of complaints about screwing up 4.0 GPAs
with the grade I gave for my rotation. An 'A' was reserved for
students who did an exceptional job on the rotation. "I'm never going
to touch a horse again" does not qualify as an excuse not to do
exceptional work. Besides, the Real World has a way of ignoring

Their problem was that they didn't take responsibility for their own
education and expected me to hand feed them everything they needed to
know. Not happening. The same goes for the a**h***es who try to get
books banned from public/school libraries, usually with the argument
"I don't want my child to have access to these books". My response:
The library is not your babysitter. Pay attention to what your own
children are reading and let me decide what is right for my children
to read.

In the Age of the Internet, there is a HUGE amount of information
available to and from BILLIONS of people. Face it. You are going to be
offended. Live with it. You DO NOT have the Right to not be offended.
And you definitely DO NOT have the Right to be a bully just because
you don't like something. Grow up and move on to something that you
don't find offensive.

Anne & Ruth: you have the ultimate power over these self-appointed
censors/bullies (let's flat out say it, because that's what they are).
Use the DELETE key. Don't reply. Don't do anything to appease them.
All that does is give them power over you.

I, for one, enjoy this blog. If I'm not interested in a particular
post, I just skip over it.

Keep on with doing it your way,

Ron Erkert

March 1, 2015 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dr. Ron--Thanks much for the thoughtful comment. Unfortunately, this is a problem my generation--and our children--seem to have created: this idea that people can have their souls wrapped in bubble pack and never have to experience anything challenging or "offensive" that would allow them to learn something.

Humans learn by our mistakes, If we aren't allowed to make mistakes and have unpleasant experiences, we live all our lives in some synthetic womb, never learning anything at all. People end up living their lives as virtual embryos, never really being born. What a waste!

March 1, 2015 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Jami Gold said...

Holy cow! I've been reading your blog for a *long* time, and I can't think of anything that could be offensive. But as you said, some people just live to be offended.

And too often lately--and my beloved social media has only made this worse--those offended people choose not just to AVOID whatever offends them, but they set out to DESTROY whatever offends them. That need to destroy IS like censorship because they're trying to prevent anyone else from encountering the "offensive" material and making the decision for themselves. I wish I had an answer for you (or any of us).

Here's to those people finding a new hobby. :/ So sorry that you're having to deal with this. *hugs*

March 1, 2015 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Aggie Cowboy said...

Anne: I wouldn't entirely blame the parents.The world we grew up in was disappearing by the late 1970's and gone by the 1990's. With the exponential growth of computer tech, the whole of the planet is at our fingertips. The status quo of the small, local community in which we grew up is gone. As a species, we were abruptly kicked out of our comfort zone. And we weren't, as a whole, ready for it. Some of us have learned to adapt, others have not. But, as Darwin predicted and evolutionary biologists have proven, the members of the species who are best able to adapt to the new environment will survive...the whiners will manage to hang on for a while then adapt or go extinct.

Ron Erkert

March 1, 2015 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jami--Thanks much for stopping by. You were one of our most popular guest posters last year!

But every time you offer great free advice, somebody objects. They think imparting knowledge is "controlling them..

If they could get rid of teachers, then there would be nothing to learn, so they'd come out ahead, right?

Sad people. But there are more of them than you'd think. You're so right that they need a new hobby!

March 1, 2015 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Belinda Pollard said...


I started using emoticons on my blog because people don't get my humour. Have a guess what I got a complaint about then. Go on, guess. Yep, that's right. "You shouldn't use emoticons because they are so childish." Sigh.

Write what you want to write, Anne. It's your blog. And if I happen on an article I don't like, I'll just skip it and read something else. Because I am a grown-up.

p.s. Did you know that in Australia, a chippie is a carpenter? In the UK I believe it's a fish'n'chip shop. Which serves to highlight our theme on the perils of communication. ;-) <<warning, warning, emoticon alert!!!

March 1, 2015 at 11:42 PM  
Blogger Brian S Creek said...

A few years ago I worked for a company who had a humour section on the company intranet. Most of us used it towards the end of a stressful week to cheer ourselves up with some classic jokes and funny facts.

Then, one day, someone in our office complained that a joke was too 'racey'. Instead of removing the joke, they removed the whole humour section. No more jokes.

Now these jokes were clean. There wasn't any 80' Eddie Murphy material or transcripts of Roy Chubby Brown sketches. Just silly jokes to make you chuckle.

The rest of the building (100+) complained but nothing was done. That one person won that round.

I like your blog, have done since I started reading it last year. If people want you to change the way you write it then your blog isn't what they want to read.

Keep up the good work. I wouldn't have you any other way. :)

March 2, 2015 at 1:15 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Hear, Hear! It seems that the highest we are expected to want to obtain today is a sort of conformistic mediocrity. That is so sad.

March 2, 2015 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

I've actually copied your reply to my message, to read to my students at college. That middle paragraph is what I've been trying to pin down with words, for a long time.

March 2, 2015 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger Alexis Hancock said...

Way to put all those whiners in their place! Blog on, Anne!

March 2, 2015 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

I honor your bravery and commitment to the truth. What did all of the whinny, PC, my way or the highway people do before blogs and twitter etc? Journal? Complain to family, friends and coworkers until no one could stand them anymore? Oh yeah...I knew a few of those. Keep following your truth, Anne. It's a good one.

March 2, 2015 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Julia Barrett said...

Thanks, Anny. I live in dread of the day when all books are the same book and all people are the same person in the name of political correctness.

March 2, 2015 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Rebecca Taylor said...

What a fantastic post! As a working psychologist (as well as an author that puts her work out there) this particular statement zeroed in on thoughts I've had about engagement in certain internet arenas:

"There is no way to please people like this. And now I realize I've been wrong to try.

Why? Because they LOVE being offended. It's what they live for."

So true! But more over, they LOVE being acknowledged about their feelings of being offended! Especially when they can lay their souls bare in a public forum or find that their complaining can elicit a response. The most powerful way to stop this type of attention seeking behavior is to ignore it.

With regards to changing art for the sake of the loudest critics, it can be hard at first, but when an author can find their creative center, they are then able to listen to all the noise and find the few true notes that really are beneficial to improving the piece as a whole. I've found that frequently critique and feedback can be meaningless drivel that is mostly about the person providing the critique--but if you know your work, and yourself as an artist, when you hear the few words that strike a chord within you, it can lead you to making your work much, much better. But you have to know the difference!

March 2, 2015 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Um, squirrels are demons plotting to take over the world.

Write On! - and write it all!

March 2, 2015 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Belinda--I totally agree. Joanne is really onto something. :-)

See-there's my childish emoticon. We're in trouble now....!

March 2, 2015 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Brian--This is a perfect example how the ultra-left PC and the ultra-right "Church Lady" mentalities have allowed the fringes to prevail over the majority. Tiny tails wag big dogs. One unhinged complainer can rob the rest of the community of something beneficial. We seem to have become unclear on the concept of democracy.

March 2, 2015 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Susan--You're so right. When I was a kid in the 1950s (yes, I'm that old :-) ) "conformity" was considered a bad thing by the artistic community. Now we all seem to strive for it.

March 2, 2015 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alexis--Thanks much!

March 2, 2015 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--A lot of those people wrote letters to the editor of the local paper. But letters to the editor have, well, editors, so we didn't get buried in the craziness.Thanks!

March 2, 2015 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julia--It's kind of terrifying to think about, isn't it? It's weird how men are still allowed to have all kinds of personalities in books, but now women all have to be perfect and resort to "kick-ass" violence at every possible opportunity.

March 2, 2015 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rebecca--It's great to have a psychologist weigh in here. I think you're right that certain personalities--and personalty disorders--take to online forums and threads to get the attention they crave and the only way to deal is to ignore it.

I agree that most critiques are about the critiquers, not the work. I think that's true in reviews as well as critique groups. Which is why the reviews mean so little. I wish places like BookBub didn't keep giving those reviews so much power.

March 2, 2015 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Southpaw--I think the final battle for earth may be in a war between the squirrels and the racoons. Equally demonic, IMO .:-)

March 2, 2015 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Maia Sepp said...

I don't always comment but I read your blog every week, and I'm shocked, frankly, to hear that people have taken offense to what you've written.

I say keep on keepin' on, Anne! I find what you write to be very valuable and informative.

March 2, 2015 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Maia--Thanks! There are always people who think they are "more equal than others." I've been trying to be kind, but it just went too far.

March 2, 2015 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Anna Read said...

I know I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said, but thank you for posting about how people who enjoy going around getting offended by every little thing are actually causing more harm than good.

I really can't believe that people are getting offended by what you're writing here because, as you said, you stay away from talking about things like politics or religion, and you're always so respectful of your readers! What a shame that someone's decided to get offended here. Thanks for encouraging the rest of us not to bow to the "I'm offended" sort of bullying either!

March 2, 2015 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anna--Thanks for commenting. I think the problem is that there are a lot of humor-impaired people and the Internet gives them a voice. People who are self-absorbed can't get the distance to laugh at themselves so all humor fills them with rage. What the "permanently offended" people are doing is waging a war on comedy. I don't know if there are more narcissists and literalists than there used to be, or if they're just getting drunk on their own growing power.

March 2, 2015 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

I CANNOT believe you've been dealing with such petty complaints. What is wrong with people!?!?! And no, we do not want our art created by consensus. Arg.

March 2, 2015 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Carol Holland March said...

Thanks for a great post, Anne. You're really a role model for honesty and integrity.

March 2, 2015 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Nina--I fear our efforts to create diversity and tolerance have created a new kind of intolerance. I hope we can find a way to stem the rising tide of the perpetually offended.

And I'm worried about the growth of popularity-contest writing. Kindle Scout is the newest incarnation. They may create a bestseller or two, but I doubt very much they'll create lasting art.

March 2, 2015 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Carol--Thanks a lot for your support. We appreciate it!

March 2, 2015 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I find the Dunning-Kruger effect to be most prevalent with local/state/federal guv'ment.

That being said I only censor myself in my main blog, simply because that to be vulgar/nasty/explicit is counter-productive. Which is why I have an adult blog for that kind of verbal nonsense. :D

Seriously though, I write for me and for people who might find my writing interesting enough that potential squeamies are treated as part and parcel of the story, instead of being taken out of context to be used as cannon fodder.

March 2, 2015 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Eileen Goudge said...

Fie on the whiners and p.c police. I applaud you for holding the line, Anne. Great post. Important message and reminder of why we don't live in China.

March 2, 2015 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Peter Spenser said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 2, 2015 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Peter Spenser said...

“Do We Really Want Our Art to be Created by Consensus?”

No, and I’ll give you one example that still sticks with me, now, months later (in a bad way, I mean). There was an author who posted on one of those group bulletin boards where mostly newish authors go for help and guidance through the maze of getting started. She had a self-made cover that she asked for comments and advice on. (This happens a lot on this particular board.) I gave her some advice, though not much because she didn’t need much. She had a great cover. I, as a trained, used-to-do-it-for-a-living, graphic designer, told her so.

Other people told her otherwise. Other people being writers, readers, anyone-with-an-opinion, etc. It became obvious, from their suggestions and their reasons for making them, that almost no one else was skilled in the fine points of graphic design. No one else spoke of the desirability of dramatic tension in the design elements, or how to position the negative space, or how the placement of the title already worked well with the diagonal of the woman’s leg.

So, what did the author do? She redesigned her cover by committee, including the often-insisted “you need to center the title” (which she did). She only changed a few of the elements, but those changes took her cover from “I’ll check that book out just on the strength of the cover alone” to “been here before, seen that, move on.”

I kept copies of the before and the after covers. I’m looking at them now. It still makes me sad.

Before I go, I have to say something about “Firefly.” On the strength of many, many comments from sci-fi aficionados (and I am one myself), I went and bought, “sight unseen” as they say, the entire “Firefly” canon: all the episodes (even the un-broadcast ones) and the movie, too. I didn’t even finish the first episode. I found the lead character so distasteful, the story line so badly thought out, and the acting so amateurish that I couldn’t go on. No, “Firefly” didn’t have an audience, at least an audience of people like me. The audience that it did have, and it’s true that it had one, was apparently just not large enough (no matter how vocal, then and now) for the network to continue pouring money into it. The same thing happened to the original “Star Trek.” Perhaps, thirty years from now, we will have seen a phenomenal revival of the whole “Firefly” universe, with millions of dollars spent on toys, and decades of fan conventions… but I doubt it.

March 2, 2015 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Patricia Lynne said...

Bravo. I'm glad to hear you won't over censor yourself because of easily offended people. Yes, there are times it can be good to hold your tongue or watch what you write, but doing it all the time in an attempt to please everyone is no way to live.

March 2, 2015 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger J.M. Ney-Grimm said...

Well said, Anne! Thank you!

And I totally agree that high-carb "low-fat" diets are a great way to feed one's fat cells and make them grow.

March 2, 2015 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G. B.--Bureaucracies, whether run by the government, non-profits, or corporations, thrive on the Dunning Kruger effect. Small tails wag large dogs.

Love the word "squeamies"!

March 2, 2015 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Eileen--Thanks for weighing in. With freedom comes responsibility. I think people misuse their right to "free speech" and then the whiners feel entitled to infringe on it in a big way.

March 2, 2015 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Peter--Thanks so much for sharing that story! It is a perfect example of the Dunning Kruger Effect diminishing art. You, the expert, were ignored, while the ignorami held sway. And the author lost.

But I could not disagree with you more on Firefly. I've watched it over and over. Yes, everybody is a bad guy. Captain "Mal" (remembering our French here) really puts the "anti" in anti-hero. It's a commentary on how the American West was won (mostly by bad and desperate people)--using the conventions of SciFi. Genius IMO. Yes, I can imagine Firefly conventions taking off like Trekkie convos.

Which all goes to show that nobody's going to agree on what makes good art, which is why consensus does not work.

March 2, 2015 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Patricia--I've been holding my tongue a long time. I think it was affecting my health. You can't keep it up forever. Thanks!

March 2, 2015 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

J.M.--Amen! I quit smoking during the height of the "low fat" craze of the early 1990s. So, just to make sure I didn't put on post-smoking weight, I became a fanatic low-fat eater. And I got fatter and fatter and hungrier and hungrier. What a nightmare. Thank goodness for Michael Pollan and his advice to. "Eat REAL food". What a concept!

March 2, 2015 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Donelle Lacy said...

Exactly right. This is your blog and while you won't intentionally try to offend people, the perpetually offended can step off. I was amening you all through this read! Thanks, Anne and Ruth for this blog, and Anne for this post! You're awesome and inspiring, and one of the few blogs on writing and publishing that I still read regularly.

March 2, 2015 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donnelle--Thanks. We appreciate our long-time readers like you! Most of the "offended" aren't subscribers and just drop in and skim one post, then tell us what to do. They don't get what we're trying to do here. Or humor. They especially don't get humor. :-)

March 2, 2015 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have recently fallen under fire for using a SONG TITLE, yes a song title for a chapter title that I was told was offensive. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. Your blog hit it on the head. I'm going to go into my blog about my experience and link this one since you've hit on a much broader problem.

Thank you!

~ Tam Francis ~

March 3, 2015 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tam--I remember when you got flak for using an old song title in a historical novel. Nothing offensive in the title, but the lyrics (which you did not include) contained a common, but now politically-incorrect racial designation. Just the possibility that somebody might *think* the word got these peoples' panties in a bunch.

It's amazing how people think it's not only okay but a *duty* to revise history to make it more to their liking. They somehow missed that saying about how people who don't study history are bound to repeat it. :-)

Political correctness gone bonkers is not useful to anybody. If they want a better world, change the one we have. Don't force people to lie about the past. I hope you stuck to your guns!

March 3, 2015 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

I did, but was stressed and totally freaked out. I did a lot of research and sought out many other opinions before I stuck to my guns.

Thanks again for your wonderful blog. It's been a personal source of inspiration and information for me!

March 3, 2015 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tam--Sorry to hear that. I know what you mean about the stress. It's really been getting to me, too.

What we have to remember is a certain percentage of the people we deal with online are mentally ill. If we met them IRL and saw their tinfoil hats, we wouldn't give their words any weight, but online, it's hard to tell if you're dealing with a real issue, or just somebody's delusions and need for attention.

March 3, 2015 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger TYHatch said...

I just sat back down after giving you a standing 'O' in my office. Imagine the odd looks that garnered. ;)

You put into words some things I've been thinking for quite a while. There seems to be a mob mentality in today's world. People take great pleasure in ripping things to shreds - regardless of their value - to be part of something. Writing (art, dance, music, etc) is subjective. As the mother of two daughters who danced competitively, I understand the disappointment of low scores from judges. And now, with a little introspection after reading your post, I'm ready to apply the advice I gave my girls - "It's just the opinion of a few people". That doesn't mean your work isn't wonderful. It doesn't mean you should give up. It doesn't mean they KNOW your work better than you do.

Write what you want to write. Love every minute of creating. And seek good, sage advice to help you along the path to publishing. At this point, I am compelled to thank you for your solid, sound, helpful blog posts.

Now, if you aren't too busy, I think there are some 535 people in Washington who could use a little of your insight.

March 3, 2015 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

TY--Kids get bombarded with this stuff, don't they? Everything is competitive these days and a "personal best" doesn't seem to matter, even when you're in the learning stages.

And it's even worse when the judges have no qualifications at all. As Peter illustrated in his comment above, people are listening to10 amateurs rather than one expert, since all that matters is numbers. They end up with lousy work. It's sad--not just for the artist, but for the culture.

And oh, you do not want me to get started on the gridlock, games and pure insanity going on in Washington.

March 3, 2015 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger TYHatch said...

Oh, kids!! It's a constant. Peer pressure to body image, it doesn't end.

I couldn't agree more with the statement of those who have no qualifications being the loudest critics. It's a very sad statement. What happened to finding something to appreciate in all art forms?

Washington is a huge mess. I really wish there was someone who could unwind the gridlock.

March 3, 2015 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Eileen Goudge said...

On point as usual, Anne. Brava on another marvelous - and brave - post. Like you, I've had my share of encounters with the thin-skinned and easily offended. Readers who seem to feel my characters reflect and/or espouse my personal beliefs. I was once accused of being "insensitive", not in my portrayal of a character with a physical deformity, but of another character's reaction to the former. (Still scratching my head with that one). As in life, those who feed off their indignation will seek it out whenever and wherever they can. I applaud you for holding the line. You're an inspiration to us all.

March 3, 2015 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

In the face of such nonsense as you describe, Anne, I can't quite see why you bother to respond at all. Are humorless scolds going to enjoy what you and Ruth write? Are they likely to appreciate your consistently useful blog posts? We know the answer. However necessary they both are, diplomacy and courtesy have their limits,

March 3, 2015 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Alicia Street said...

Another bravo!

March 3, 2015 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Eileen--Thanks. As a bestselling author, I'm sure you've run into this a lot. (The more popular you are, the more people feel entitled to order you around. I'm not sure why that is.)

And the toughest thing to deal with is the vast number of people who don't understand the fundamentals of fiction. They don't understand that every character can't be a paragon of virtue and/or a stand-in for the author (or the reader). They seem to think all fiction should be 1) as realistic as a news story 2) a prescription for moral behavior. These people need to be shown to the nonfiction section.

And as for the rage-aholics--unfortunately they are everywhere, seeking their next fix at the expense of every normal, kind person they meet.

March 3, 2015 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--One self-righteous, angry person can do terrible damage to a writer's career. I'm taking a big chance here. I may suffer dire consequences in reviews, forums, and other places. These people can trash your buy page, FB page, slander you on Twitter, etc. Nobody has free speech any more when the Twittersphere is always poised to destroy a reputation before the actual facts have time to catch up. I've been attacked by swarms of rageaholic bullies in the past. They have a lot of power.

March 3, 2015 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...


March 3, 2015 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Debby Gies said...

Brava Anne and Ruth. Thanks for saying what many writers wish to say but don't because of exactly what you are writing about. Politically correct has gotten quite excessive over time, it has no limits it seems. I read your columns every week and share. Long live freedom of speech. You don't like what you read THEN MOVE ON! You said it bang on . . .we will never be able to please everyone so take a stand to express what you believe in. :)

March 3, 2015 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Liz Crowe said...

Anne & Ruth,
this was brought home to me in a very real way when I received an email (!) from a "non-fan" of my new series, The Love Brothers which is set in Kentucky and is about a tight-knit set of blue-collar, hard working siblings. This person insisted that not only did I have no business writing about "Kentuckyans" (sic) because I'm "from Michigan," I had no real reason to "glorify cheating, redneck a**holes in my novels."
Amazing, on many levels as not only did I GIFT this new "Liz non-fan" these 3 books as part of my non-stop, full-on, never-ending promotional effort on some Facebook page or event or another (I lose track) but I also warned them in the email that if they preferred their fiction NOT to contain elements of real life relationship issues like "cheating" then they'd best skip this series and could I offer them another FREE ONE perhaps?
Oh and I have Kentucky bona fides. I lived there from age 8 (moved from Tennessee) to 20, attended college in Louisville, married a Louisville boy and have been to more Kentucky Derbies than I'm guessing my new "non-fan" could ever imagine. But of course I did not answer this person. Merely "deleted," cried a few tears and re-read this amazing blog post. I do that a lot--somehow you ladies manage to find the topic of the week for my writer's life (last week I was on my 17th agent rejection!)
keep up the great work!
"To the Whiners Go the Spoils?" I think not.

March 4, 2015 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger Joy V. Smith said...

Great post because it covers so much territory--and I so totally agree. Among other things, I love humor, satire, and puns; I didn't even know about Firefly till after it was gone and I had to catch up (not easy then); and I'm glad you said that about Game of Thrones....

March 4, 2015 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Liz--Your experience is absolutely typical of what I'm talking about: entitlement, narcissism and ignorance combine to make a toxic environment for writers.

I even saw a customer review once that said "I hate this heroine. She's blonde. I'm BRUNETTE!!". She honestly believed every book ever written was supposed to be about her.

And tons of people think this is wonderful. I have actually got responses to this post from people who think all books should be written by committee.

All we can do is delete and hope these whiners will crawl back into their holes.

March 4, 2015 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Joy--Yeah, I love Firefly and can't sit through GoT. That puts me in a minority, but how sad if we were robbed of the Fireflys of the world because everybody was required to have identical taste. And where would the world be without humor?

March 4, 2015 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Katarina West said...

Wow. Never even realised that there was that much drama going on behind the scenes, which makes it all the more admirable that you nonetheless continue offering us this wonderful blog, week after week, month after month. Thanks Anne, for your great dedication and wonderful style, which should never, ever be censored.

March 4, 2015 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Katarina--Thanks. I'm so glad you appreciate what we do. I should have pointed out that a lot of these complaints come from people who only read the header of a post in a Tweet, or do a drive-by and don't actually read the whole post. They're on the lookout for stuff to find offensive. I guess they're "following their bliss."

March 4, 2015 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger author Christa Polkinhorn said...

Wonderfully hilarious (and true) post. I agree! And to all whiners: If you don't like it, don't read it. Shut the door and shut up.

March 4, 2015 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christa--Thanks. Whining seems to have become an Olympic sport these days. I think you have at least a Bronze to get elected to Congress. :-)

March 4, 2015 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Sara C. Snider said...

Art created by consensus? Now that's a terrifying thought. It brings to mind a world of nothing but grey and beige. Woe be to the person who dares to write/paint/sing about purple...

As wonderful as the Internet is, it sometimes makes me feel like we're all partaking in some grand social experiment to see how human interaction evolves. I once saw a documentary a long time ago that discussed how road rage stems from the fact that people can't make eye contact. They are disconnected and so react in ways they wouldn't otherwise (like when you bump into someone while walking--people generally don't fly off the handle for that). That, I feel, is the biggest failing of the Internet. Anonymity and distance brings out the worst in people. And while there always have been (and always will be) self-entitled jerk faces telling you what to do, I can't help but think it's worse than it would be, if we were all talking face-to-face.

Anyway, I love your blog, and the humor with which you and Ruth write. It's been a big help to newbie writers like me, and I thank you for that and hope it never changes.

March 4, 2015 at 10:37 PM  
Blogger Bob Ivey said...

Loved this post on censorship and crowdsourcing. As an aspiring writer I haven't gotten into the critique sites and I'm not sure I will. Recently I posted a short story where the limit was 4000 characters. I got a lot of good comments including those focused on punctuation. Several comments were on one paragraph where some people got what I was saying and others were confused. I fixed the paragraph to make it clearer but had to cut characters elsewhere. I feel that it weakened the story.

Whine-offs? I love it. Thanks.

March 5, 2015 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger LD Masterson said...

I can't remember ever reading a post I agreed with more. All the way through. This super-sensitive, "I'm offended" nonsense has gotten completely out of hand. I believe anyone who visits your blog and finds it offensive in any way has the right not to visit it any more. Bingo - problem solved. The same with books and movies.

My grandson was recently required to cover the t-shirt he was wearing to high school because it had the name of our church on it and someone "might be offended" by a mention of church in school (no, he wasn't praying or preaching).

As for writing by consensus - when I was in high school, I started my first novel. I made the mistake of sharing it with a handful of friends who thought it would be cool to be characters in the story, so I accommodated them and tossed in some extra characters. Then, of course, each one thought they knew best what their character should do and say (and wear and drive, etc.) We had a bit of fun with the joint creation but the plot was lost and the whole thing meandered around until it died a natural and merciful death. I still regret the loss of that story.

By the way, I love your blog and I don't think you've ever managed to offend me.

March 5, 2015 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sara--I sure find the idea of art-by-committee chilling. But I'm amazed at how many people think it's the best way to go.

Very interesting observation about road rage. I think Internet rage (and rage addiction) may be similar. I do think anonymity fuels bad behavior.

I'm so glad to hear you're finding our blog useful. It's a labor of love, so we're happy to hear we're appreciated.

March 5, 2015 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Bob--Thanks I hope I didn't come across as dissing critique sites. I think they can be incredibly useful for a beginning writer learning the basics. The advice offered is often wrong, but they can zero in on a problem spot. But when you take explicit advice, you can often end up with a weaker story, as you did.

Maybe whining should become an Olympic category? :-)

March 5, 2015 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

LD--Worrying about the "permanently offended" community is a huge burden for people who work with the public in any capacity. I suppose school administrators have it the worst. Everybody wants to control schools, because it's a way of controlling the next generation. I don't envy them. The tee shirt thing is way over the top. But so is calling the police when a kid brings a plastic knife to cut brownies. It's gotten totally cray-cray as the kids say.

Your group-novel is a perfect example of what happens with Groupthink. You end up losing the plot--figuratively and literally.

I'm sorry I haven't managed to offend you. I'll have to work harder on that. :-)

March 5, 2015 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Anna Read said...

Good point. I'm not sure if there are more narcissists out there now, either, but the ones who are there certainly have more voice thanks to the internet (as you pointed out!)

March 5, 2015 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

A great post - thank you. This post could easily be expanded into a chapter or book.

I bookmarked and saved it until I had the time to read and respond, hence the late comment. Few writers, I believe, will not have experienced similar attempts by others to censor them.

March 8, 2015 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Jodie Renner said...

Refreshing! Love your wisdom and your wit, Anne! And I envy your way with words! Your examples are priceless. Love the one about the man getting irate because you called his 3-year-old a "girl" instead of a "woman"! And your comeback was perfect. (I was there back then, too, and yes, vocal idiots were spouting off everywhere, too.)

March 8, 2015 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mark--Great idea to include this in a book. I'm getting ready to put out some short guidebooks for writers.

Yes, I think we all run into it these days. Internet denizens have an odd sense of entitlement when it comes to other people's creative work.

March 8, 2015 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jodie--Thanks. We look forward to your post today on how to write short stories. So many of our readers have been asking for more on short fiction.

I think those idiots did more to thwart the course of women's liberation than otherwise. :-)

March 8, 2015 at 10:03 AM  
OpenID writerchick said...

I realize I'm very late to the party on this post and my comments are probably irrelevant at this point. But. I had to say. What a f*cking awesome post. I found myself laughing, chuckling and nodding throughout. I am tired of people who feel it is their duty to 'correct' others in whatever they are trying to create. And my feeling is that if these people are such geniuses and experts then they had better go off and create their own awesome work and leave us poor uninformed, unpolitically correct heathens to ourselves. And sadly, you're right one negative comment even in a sea of wonderful comments tend to topple us. Make us second guess ourselves and feel somehow less than what we are.

As to censorship. It doesn't seem to work. Prohibition didn't stop people from drinking, book burning/banning didn't stop people from reading and even Communism didn't stop people from seeking freedom.

My attitude is if you don't like what you see then look away. No one is forcing anyone to read a blog post, a book, a short story, watch a movie or gaze upon a painting.

People are certainly entitled to their opinions but they don't possess free speech rights on your blog, forums, etc.

Anyway Anne I just wanted to say, Bravo, Atta girl, you go girl and f*cking A.

You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. Thanks for that.


March 8, 2015 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

WriterChick--Comments are never irrelevant. We still get comments on posts that are four or five years old. We love hearing from you!

Yeah, Prohibition didn't work all that well. Why do people want to keep using the same tactics?

But you make a very good point that "free speech" does not extend to other people's property. Only public spaces.

And it doesn't repeal other laws. You have a right to speak, but that doesn't mean you aren't going to suffer the consequences, like going to jail if you make terrorist threats or libel somebody. I just read about an internet troll who got sued for libeling a company and had to pay a hundred thousand pounds or something. Yay!

March 8, 2015 at 1:58 PM  
OpenID sallyember.com said...

You are very welcome, Anne!

March 9, 2015 at 7:07 AM  
OpenID writerchick said...

Yeah, I read that article just yesterday - and I had to smile. Finally somebody fighting back against the trolls. Well here's to a big old cup of unpolitical correctness - more power to you sister. :)

March 9, 2015 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Trisha Cronin said...

It's certainly possible that you'very lost readers with this post, but you've also gained at least one loyal one. I've been grappling with thus issue internally ever since the #yesallwomen hashtag. I realized then that what that hashtag represented did not speak to my everyday experience, and also that I felt afraid to say so because of the judgment that I felt would follow. I read an article by Chris Rock recently where he talked about how many comedians are banning cell phones at their beta shows because they can't feel free to push the boundaries of they're afraid it will end up on Youtube. I'm not sure how to combat this cultural trend, but I agree with you that it is destructive to creativity.

March 14, 2015 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debby--I just saw that I missed you here. So sorry! Thanks for the comment and I think you're absolutely right that the PC thing lost a sense of boundaries, and slowly they became the biggest bullies around. Definitely we all need to learn to let stuff go and move on.

March 14, 2015 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Trisha--That's a good example of the "Twitter morality police" who don't allow for any kind of dissent. It's not healthy. Very interesting about Chris Rock finding the YouTube/phone culture inhibits comics' performances. I see how that can really stifle people.

March 14, 2015 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Anita Stout said...

I was laughing out SO loud that my husband came in from the other room to see what was so hysterical! He enjoyed this as much as I did. (He's a disgruntled
FIREFLY disciple) You're right on the money! It's getting to the point I feel a need to keep a waaambulance on speed-dial! There was only one perfect person who ever walked the earth and they crucified Him. What are the chances the rest of us will please everyone? I don't feel the need to be disrespectful, hurtful or offensive to express myself, (and it is MYSELF I'm expressing.) If someone feels the need to feel disrespected, hurt, or offended by what I write or say, who am I to deny them that right? GREAT POST!

March 15, 2015 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anita--I'm glad I could make you laugh. I read your blog yesterday and you said such similar stuff I thought you'd like this one. As I said, being offended has become a competitive sport. The very fact anybody exists who is not THEM sends them into operatic whines. Luckily, they seem to love whining, so we should be proud we can give them what they want.

March 15, 2015 at 12:25 PM  

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