Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

The Cost of Harassment


I wrote a piece about writing for a website back in July. I had agreed to do it and so I had to. The article was a clumsy piece of shit.

For years and years I wrote about the process of writing with surety and confidence. However, there was this little doubt in the back of my mind. An endless round of “Have I lost the magic?”

Nicky could not shake that, even with his accusations that I was plagiarizing REH. Because it was so clearly untrue. REH wrote gorgeous prose and wonderful narrative descriptions. My own material tended to be just this side of Mickey Spillane with spare descriptions that were rarely heavy on the adjectives.

I had to re-train myself to use more since it was fantasy. I still tend to seize up when writing description.

Eighteen months ago, the barrage of Dagstine’s alt horde started.

He picked up on the areas I was insecure and hit me dead on with them.

The price paid was that I no longer felt that my recent creds were good enough to give me the right to an opinion. The right to talk about the process.

I became functionally incapable of writing about the process of writing. It seems to be coming back bit by bit, but it is a long way from healed.

And now I have been asked to write another piece about writing. Once more I am seizing up and wondering what the hell I ought to say.

I will do it because I must. I can pray that it will be worth reading and much better than the previous attempt to break through that block. However, I can’t be certain that I will be able to do so.

When people like Dagstine and his little cabal go after someone, heckling and harassing, something gets broken. The vulnerable people get hurt by it. I don’t consider myself to be a vulnerable person. Far from it. And yet, there was damage done.

More and more you see a movement on the internet toward definitions of and implementation of rules of behavior. On the one hand, I am not very fond of tight rules. On the other hand, I see that there is a greater and greater need for some kind of order as a means of reducing this kind of harassment especially among writing communities with younger members.

Snark can be a very subtle thing. It can be an odd reference, an unsuitable metaphor, a picture, and many other means of expression. It is not always easy to recognize unless you know the history of the person being harassed. But there needs to be a way of recognizing and reducing it on message boards. Blogs are single person accounts. If you don’t wish to deal with my blog, don’t read it.

However, message boards are communities. And that is where most of the damage occurs.

With blogs, you can always fire back from your own blog and have a pleasant little war. That’s what the stronger ones often do. And that’s what the nitwits do.

It is when it is carried to communities that you have to ask why?

Some of them, like Dagstine, come to leave comments. WordPress has a lot of safety features, such as comment moderation. That’s all and good. However, hateful comments can still be left for the person who owns the blog. I choose to allow the comments because I prefer to meet these people head on. En Garde! Oopsie, I think I just left my battle axe up your butt.

I am not entirely certain whether there is a good viable solution to the situation. But I can hope that one will be found. Either that or we need to raise our children with emotional rhino hides for dealing with the savagery of the net.

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6 comments on “The Cost of Harassment

  1. CritGit
    September 13, 2008

    Troubles with writing is writing about writing, so even this is good work. Have no doubts in the Cuss myself.

  2. SirOtter
    September 13, 2008

    I feel your pain, Janrae. I’ve let myself be talked into being part of a panel at the Southern Festival of Books next month on writing and marketing mystery stories. Jeez, I haven’t even written more than one or two mystery short stories in the last several years, much less tried to market them! Well, except for the 14 paraNOIRmal tales in Hardboiled Horrors, but those were written as long as seven years ago. Most of what I’ve done has been horror or fantasy or SF the last couple of years. I hope I have something useful to offer, other than nostalgia about slogging through the Futures slush pile, tossing shitty yarns willy-nilly over my shoulder and plowing on, hoping for a diamond among the coproliths. It might help folks marketing their yarns to know what gets something roundfiled, but I’m just not sure I can say a lot about writing mystery shorts.

  3. khazar
    September 13, 2008

    Real simple: Expand on what you’ve written here. Talk about how easy it is to get into a bad situation. I guarantee that there are others out there who are either in the same spot or one right nearby.

  4. kitsunenongrata
    September 13, 2008

    Mom, as you write that piece show it to me. Use your teaching me to write as a means of unblocking it. IT should work.

  5. khazar
    September 13, 2008

    Good method. And you help by explaining what did & didn’t work, and see if you can figure out why.

  6. Sabledrake
    September 13, 2008

    :: support vibes :: Don’t let the bastards get to you.

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Janrae Frank

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