My blog posts of a couple weeks back created an unintended fury and have put me into familiar territory.
I am way behind on my email.
At present, I have made it through close to 100 messages and I still have 450 emails to read. Many come from other writers (new and old) that experienced the same sort of criticism that I posted and walked away from SOL.
Some, like my friend, Brendan Buckley, and the great dotB, have no plans to return regardless of the encouragement from the vast majority of SOL readers. Others have pulled stories to clean them up and then decided to put them elsewhere.
Some were from people that enjoy what SOL offers (and who recognize the scope of the site). They frequently mention the sorts of feedback they provide and have asked if I thought they were being too harsh to the writer.
A few were from newcomers to the site that have posted one or two stories, gotten flamed, and are wondering if it is worthwhile to continue to share their imagination and creativity with the masses.
I am trying to take my time in reading the messages. Some of the information is very personal to the writer and I want to make sure I don't dissuade anyone who wants to show his or her work to the world. I don't want to discourage feedback (positive or politely negative).
SOL is great in that it offers instant connection between writer and reader. It offers the average Joe off the street the chance to be a part of the writing process as an editor, a proofreader or a reviewer. It gives everybody the chance to critique what they've just read in a meaningful way.
Sadly, it also gives the assholes of the world another anonymous platform to spew their negativity and hatred through an Internet connection. It gives people the chance to say things that would land one of us on his ass if they had the courage to say it face-to-face.
Later in my current story, the main character offers his take on our disconnected society. In this instance, his views are mine so I won't spoil the surprise and I'll get back to the (meandering) point of this post.
There simply isn't any way for me to answer more than a handful of emails each day (and a lot of days, the total falls to zero).
Since this blog gets read by a hell of a lot more people than I thought it did, I thought I would post a few general replies here to the groups I identified above.
If you are a writer and have left SOL, please know that you are missed and we hope you decide to return. Every single piece of fiction on this site has value. Every single person that gathered his or her courage to take the leap to posting a story has value.
If you are a reader who offers feedback periodically or consistency, I hope you'll continue and I hope you'll take to heart the last sentence in the paragraph above. Personal verbal attacks on writers are never warranted - not on political leanings, not of types of relationships, not on religious histories you find in the stories. These are works of fiction. They may or may not reflect the writer's personal beliefs (but you don't get to judge those beliefs just because you opened up a story).
If you are just starting out on SOL, I urge you to continue honing your skills as a writer. There are two good ways to learn: by doing and by seeing. Keep writing and you'll improve; take the constructive criticism in the way most readers intend it (a way to better your future works).
Oh, and feel free to post the ridiculous messages you might get on this blog. It appears that people really get a kick out of the shrill screeches of the harpies.