Earlier this week, I was the subject of criticism on Twitter during my participation in the Query Kombat Twitter party.
Each day while the entrants wait for the judges to pick the contestants, there is a Twitter party prompt—share your writing struggle, when do you like to write, your favorite line from your entry, who’s your antagonist. Little questions to keep us occupied and get the community talking to each other about writing.
I bet you know where I’m going with this.
I posted my favorite line, as per the prompt, and set to work liking and interacting with others’ tweets. This is what it’s all about—making connections within the online writing community and offering enthusiasm to your fellow writers.
Of course, Twitter is a public forum, and anyone can search a hashtag.
I logged on about two hours after posting to find this:
Now to add some context, I had replied the instigator’s tweet earlier that evening:
And so this wasn’t just some random attack in which she picked me out of a lineup and started her joy-ride, but rather a targeted attack. Even more, she didn’t call out any other tweets from the hashtag thread.
When I read the chain, I openly admit I was stunned. First, I do not claim to be perfect, nor the best writer, nor the literary par to which all other writing should be judged. I am far from that, and actually welcome criticism—when it’s constructive, that is.
After being stunned, I moved on to hurt and anger with a side dish of self-doubt.
I’m not new to this behavior. I mean, we all went to middle and high school, right? And we’ve all been on the internet before, so this really isn’t new. But it’s different when it’s pointed at you.
It’s different when someone takes you, or a part of you, and blasts it to the void with a snicker and sideways look to their friends. It’s different when it’s not a general hatred. It’s different when it’s not you.
After a few minutes of just staring at my phone, I fired off a reply. Engaging isn’t the answer, and so instead I posted this:
Then I immediately blocked the participators.
And here’s why:
They were right about one thing—you need a thick skin if you wanna get by in this business. And you need the ability to decipher the constructive criticism from the trolls.
For myself, the same rules apply to criticism that apply to finding a good source of information. There are three questions:
- Is it credible?
- Is it biased?
- Is it helpful?
There will be some feedback that will resonate with you, confirming your own ideas or suspicions about a scene or a phrase. There will be some that you disagree with, but because multiple people agree, you know you need to revise. And there will be some that isn’t really feedback at all, but is simply another writer or person’s jizz all over your work.
In this case, the shitstorm that was these tweets was not credible (a writer who said she couldn’t handle the business), was definitely biased, and not at all helpful.
Conclusion: trolls looking to spurt their own jizz-juice all over the general populace.
And I must admit, they infected me with their STD—self-troll-doubt. I tossed and turned in bed. I kept checking back. I kept looking through their feeds and mine. I dissected the one fucking line I posted. I asked my friends for affirmation. And then I calmed the fuck down around 1:30am and finally fell asleep.
In the morning, I digested what happened and tried to set it aside. I sat at my computer with my new WiP open and eeked out 800 words. I’m used to writing 2-3x that in one sitting. And then? Then I was pissed.
Who the fuck are these people who survive on STD? How do they live like this? Ask most anyone who knows me, and they’ll agree—I’m a goddamn confident woman. I believe in myself. I believe in my skill. And I walk with my fucking shoulders back.
And one shitty troll took that away with a few hurtful lines?
I let that hairy bastard out from under the bridge. I let myself become infected by her STD. And now, I can’t even churn out a typical word count.
Well, fuck you.
I may have responded with grace and class on Twitter, but here I promise not to hide myself or my feelings. Here, I promise to shove both middle fingers up the hairy troll bastard’s ass and fight the STD. I’m ready for my fucking penicillin shot. I’m ready to stand up with a published book, that one fucking line intact, and smile like I’m the kindest bitch you ever met.