open communication

There’s another (yet again) clash in one very small, limited corner of the internet, but as it happens to be the corner I inhabit, and as I would prefer this not blow out of all proportion, I am going public right here and now. My hope is that it can all be settled immediately. If you are tired of all this (and I am, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you were) please feel free to pass on by. (WW, I’m looking at you.)

There’s a Yahoo discussion group to discuss Diana Gabaldon’s books. It’s a great community of readers who like to talk about the Outlander series. I have been lurking on that board for years, but I’ve never posted, and there are also longer periods where I’m off doing other things and don’t check in.

A few days ago somebody posted on the forum here to ask a question. I’ll refer to this person as WB. It was a simple question. Had the title of the next book in the Wilderness series changed? Because there was a discussion to that effect on the Yahoo Gabaldon board. Also, the person who had started the discussion seemed pretty critical generally of my work.

So I popped over and indeed, the title of the thread included the words “Donati” “Body Snatchers” and “Spoilers”. Once I read the post I understood: RK (as I’ll refer to her here) had just finished Into the Wilderness, and she disliked it. A lot. She was voicing her opinion on the Gabaldon board, which of course is her right. The “Body Snatchers” reference had to do with her claim that ITW is populated by characters I have borrowed or stolen or adapted from other sources, mostly Diana’s books, and that there’s nothing original or interesting in my work.

Let me be clear: RK is entitled to her opinion. I can’t pretend that it’s nice to be accused of plagarism and lack of originality but I am also comfortable enough in my skin to let my work stand on its own merits.*** So let’s take RK’s opinion at face value: she prefers Diana’s books for a lot of different reasons, one of them having to do with the fact that she feels my characters are uninteresting and recycled.

Back at this forum I answered WB’s original question about the title confusion (no, Queen of Swords was not changing title to Body Snatchers). I clarified what I thought was going on, and I responded to the review, very briefly. As was my right.

Now this is where it gets messy. This is where you really need to pay attention. Fact: WB did not email me me the text of RK’s posts or comments on my work. The Gabaldon discussion forum is public, and anybody who has a Yahoo identity can join the group and read the posts. It’s true that WB mentioned RK’s posts, but that’s it. I see nothing wrong in that; she was asking for clarification, and I provided it. Some of the fen over at the Gabaldon forum were upset, however, and WB heard about it from RK and from others as well. I know this because WB told me.

I am a little confused why RK should be surprised that something posted on a public forum might indeed be more widely read. It also seems less than logical to me to accuse WB of bad etiquette for sharing posts from the Gabaldon forum. After all, RK got hold of my post on this whole mess somehow, most likely because somebody pointed her to it.

So let’s be clear.

1. WB did nothing wrong. She likes Diana’s books, she likes my books, she was confused and taken aback by the tone of something she read and so she asked about it. I went and had a look, and answered.

2. RK is entitled to her opinion about my work. The tone of her review is not what I would call professional or balanced or respectful, but it is certainly strongly emotive. Again: that is her right. She can be as vocally negative as she likes; she can stick her tongue out at me and blow raspberries, if it makes her feel better. Following from that, it’s also true that other people are free to agree or disagree with her, on that board or this one. I have to point out though that anyone who publically reviews a book is in fact opening up a discussion, and that in judging, they will also be judged.

3. I defend RK’s right to be negative about my books, just as I defended Beth’s right to post a negative review of one of Diana’s books. And I must point out again: Beth’s review did not appear here. I did not endorse it because I haven’t read the book. I did open up a discussion on the topic of negative reviews, pointing to Beth’s website. I did make it clear that I admired her for her willingness to put her neck out, and for her obvious love and admiration of the early books in the Outlander series. Apparently some few Gabaldon fans are still angry at me for supporting Beth’s right to post her opinions. I wonder if they will also be mad at me for supporting RK’s negative evaluation of my work.

I harbor no deep resentment toward RK, no anger or need for revenge. On the other hand, I feel no need to try to win her over, as she suggests I should. If anything at all was offensive in her posts, it was this idea that it is somehow my obligation to convince anybody of the value of my work. I suppose I could email authors who have written books that didn’t work for me. I could get in touch with John Updike or Nora Roberts or Jodi Picoult or Stephen King or Toni Morrison and offer them the opportunity to pitch their books to me, but then that would be presumptuous and less than respectful.

Finally, a point I need to make: In the course of all this back and forth, bits were copied from my website onto the Gabaldon forum boards. And I’m fine with that — I make the material public, and people are free to share it as long as it’s not done in a misleading way.

***I will point out that it has been postulated that there are only so many plots out there, and everything is a rehashing of something else. Certainly time travel has been done before, as have novels about Scotland, Revolutionary America, and the War of 1812. I have always said quite openly that I got the idea for ITW from an exercise where I put some of Jane Austen’s characters in the same room with some of Fenimore Cooper’s characters. Sparks flew, and ideas sprouted, and here I am five books later.

20 Replies to “open communication”

  1. Hmmm….your response would have been more dignified IF there wasn’t one. By responding to “RK” you are lowering yourself to her level. Not saying anything at all would have been the best course of action.

  2. Andrea, as my 17 yr old son would say….dude chillax…

    Rosina, my beloved father in law would say…opinions are like a**holes, everybodys got one, but some don’t like to admit to having one…I like hearing what you’ve got to say, I don’t always agree, but hey thats life, right?

    I’ve got a question about book purchasing. I buy from everywhere (Amazon, B&N, Borders, B.Daltons, Target, Costco, used bookstores, paperbackbookswap.com, library sales, ect, ect) but I never really gave thought to the author, I truly beleived that the publisher paid up front for the book, x amount of dollars, and then they paid to print, distribute, & advertise and the author didn’t get paid residuals for each book sold. Was I incorrect in this? I know you went over this before, but I couldn’t find it. I’ld love to know your take on this, in your opinion, wheres the best place to purchase?

  3. I haven’t read Gabaldon and I don’t really understand all the intense protection that surrounds certain authors and series, but I do know there’s a decent literary tradition built on pulling well-known characters into other books and sort of commenting on them while writing them anew. Coetzee’s Foe is one of my favorite examples of this. I haven’t read “Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife” (mostly because I still haven’t gotten past some of the comments the author made on Amazon, but hopefully soon I will and can buy a used copy of the book to read), but I know there was a lot of controversy about that book, too. At first I thought it was only controversial to actually purport to continue a beloved author’s story, but apparently it extends to reinterpreting characters, as well. Too bad. If you’re a really cynical reader, I guess you could actually see it as more honest (i.e. why make up a version of the character when the original is right there), but in any case, I think having different authors interpret the same characters can be quite interesting and innovative. I know I loved Coetzee’s revision more than Defoe’s original.

    I do have a question, though, that I’ve been thinking about since the blow-up with Dear Author and the posts you made here in reviewing, and this latest kerfuffle gave me a place to articulate it. How would you characterize a review like Beth’s for A Breath of Snow and Ashes, in which she wrote of Gabaldon, “I dunno, can you even tell your ass from your elbow anymore, woman?” in regard to the fine lines you draw regarding reviewing etiquette. I thought Beth’s review was hysterical (and the fact that it sort of embodied this word on several levels made it even better, IMO), but I’m not sure where, exactly, it’s distinguishable from the examples you gave here of too personal or unprofessional reviews.

  4. Interesting points. I’m glad you raised them, because something just clarified itself for me. Let me say something about that before I answer your question.

    You’re right, there has been fairly regular theatrics over the last six months or so around the topic of reviews and the author/reader/ reviewer relationship. I take responsibility for that, as it’s my weblog and obviously, I raised questions at various points which resulted in Kerfuffle. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. I do believe that women need to get more comfortable providing constructive criticism that moves beyond cheerleading. Progress involves change, change involves conflict. Most people involved in these discussions are adults, and we’re certainly capable of working out our differences, or agreeing to disagree.

    But it occurs to me that maybe I haven’t been clear enough about what I see my role in these interrelated discussions. And here is my role: nothing. At least, my role is no bigger than anybody else’s. I have opinions which are based on my personal experience and observation, but that is true of everybody who is involved. I also have a pulpit, so to speak, in the form of this weblog. But I can claim no inherent authority on that basis, and I don’t want any authority on that basis, either.

    Many, many times in my life I have been told that I am intimidating and that people are uncomfortable discussing things with me for that reason. I have talked about this with therapists and friends and family, and while their explanations make sense to me on one level (yes, I see that I have a forceful style; yes, I know my background makes some people uncomfortable), on another level I have never understood this.

    I’m mentioning this because after I read Robin’s comment I had a flash memory of a fairly heated discussion at one of the Girlchild’s schools. Just parents and teachers were present. There were two factions, and each side felt very strongly about their position. I did a lot of the arguing for the side I was on. Impassioned arguing, sure. But I was completely shocked when somebody from the other side stood up and shouted at me: Stop picking on people who aren’t as smart as you are! Stop trying to make me feel stupid!

    this was a couple of years ago and I have some distance now. I look back and this and remember dear old Eleanor Roosevelt’s “nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”. I couldn’t have quoted that during the meeting in question, as it would have just added fuel to the fire, but to some degree it is true that I wasn’t at fault — the person who shouted at me was insecure and she allowed herself to be intimidated. Was my style also part of the problem? Almost certainly. But it was never my intention to make anybody, anywhere, look or feel stupid.

    The same is true of the discussions here. Some of what’s going on in these debates may be getting hung up on personalities and styles, and I failed to anticipate that. I will try harder in the future.

    Whew. Now Robin’s question about Beth’s review. I believe I made a pretty strong distinction between the content of a review, the subject of the criticism (the book and not the author) and matters of tone. Tone has to do with personal style (see above), with the established relationship between the reviewer and the reviewer’s known audience, and with the format. Beth’s review was written for her own weblog, not for a website that advertises itself first and foremost as a book review ‘publication’ (and I use that word loosely). And her tone fit into her overall approach when she does talk about books: she’s outrageous. She’s emotive. She puts it all out there. Her review of ABOSAA is not professional or meant to be taken that way. If a newspaper called her up and asked her to write her review up to be printed on their Books page, I am certain the approach and tone would change.

    Would I write an online review in the same way? No. Do I think less of her for writing in her own style? No. In that review she went to extremes to make clear how much she has loved and admired the Outlander books, how devoted she was. It was a comparative review, and it was heartfelt. I can’t imagine it was easy to write. I do imagine that it was cathartic, to say what was bothering her, to make her (very careful, very detailed and structured) arguments. I have to admire the effort and time and thought she put into that review. You have to really love a series and the characters in the series to get so emotionally involved.

    So that’s it. I’ve gone a gusher, and now I’ll step back.

  5. Thanks for your response, Rosina.

    In general, I think we’re all at our personal best when we’re encouraging someone else not to get too bent out of shape when they feel they’ve been personally insulted or attacked.

    Specific to your comments about Beth’s review, obviously your views are yours and not any kind of “rule” or attempt to authorize online reviewing behavior. I’m just trying to understand the lines you are drawing so I can figure out where I stand relative to your position.

    First let me say I have no problem with the review Beth posted or her right to post it. But I think you could actually make an argument that in your own terms of “responsibility” (which I always think of as “the ability to respond”), Beth might actually have more than a site like Dear Author. Sure she’s not running a dedicated “review” site, but in the midst of her personal anecdotes and various essays, she has talked more than once about her own relationship to the Romance writing community, which is one that includes friendship with at least one very well-known author, assisting authors with their work/manuscripts and, at one time, at least, an MS I think she was shopping. So does she have more or less of a “professional” connection to the Romance community than, say, Jane from Dear Author does? She’s not just a reader, as Jane purports to be. What would Alison Kent say (she was so vocal about prospective authors, and I remember at least one slap at Gabaldon’s editor in Beth’s review)? To the casual reader skipping around blogland, will Beth’s review resonate as any less formal, I guess is the word I want here, than those at Smart Bitches or AAR?

    I know for myself that a review I perceive to be intelligently written, even if scathing and snarky, can be more palatable to me than a review I don’t resonate to in that way. So I really wonder whether style and whatever the alchemical elements of rapport each of us may or may not have established with a particular online voice will influence the elevation or degredation with which we view strong opinions. Like, within a certain mid-range of reviewing voices, does style count more than some of those elements we might articulate as more quantifiable in trying to differentiate an acceptable review from an unacceptable one?

  6. Robin, okay, I see where you’re going with this. A couple things come to mind right away, some of them this urge I have to make myself really clear, so here that is:

    I can see that some people would find the tone of Beth’s review objectionable. I listed reasons why I found it to be acceptable within its context. You disagree; okay. I’ll go over your points in this regard and reconsider my position.

    My primary point remains the same, how ever that part of the conversation goes: I can find a review distasteful or objectionable for a whole variety of reasons, but that same review that strikes me as distasteful might still manage to be responsible. In fact I’d guess that pretty much every review will be disliked by somebody, no matter how well written or reasoned. I defended Beth’s right to voice her opinion in her own way on her own weblog; I did the same thing for RK’s opinion of my work on the Gabaldon board. Jane at Dear Author may not see it this way, but I believe that the Ja(y)nes have every right to write their reviews in whatever voice and tone they please. I don’t like their approach, but I wouldn’t deny their right to it.

    But let me think this through some more.

  7. I can see that some people would find the tone of Beth’s review objectionable. I listed reasons why I found it to be acceptable within its context. You disagree; okay. I’ll go over your points in this regard and reconsider my position.

    Let me just clarify that I didn’t find Beth’s review objectionable, and I’m not yet sure I disagree with you, either. I just don’t yet see the bright line distinction between Beth’s review and those at Dear Jane, or between Beth’s review and those you invented in your last post on this topic that you deemed unacceptable for whatever reason.

  8. Robin — I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and I have a moaning dog on my lap, but I didn’t want you to think I evading your questions, because they gave me stuff to think about.

    I see that my reasoning might be taken as circular. I have said that reviews should focus on the book and not the author. I have also said that the reviewer has an obligation to the readers. I made the point that tone is a matter of personal style. And then I defended Reno Kathy’s negative comments about my work, in much the same way I defended Beth’s review of ABOSAA, while I was critical of Jane’s general approach to reviewing.

    The first issue to straighten out (it seems to me) is the matter of intended audience. You made some good points about Beth’s relationship to the romance writing community, and asked how she was different from Dear Author. I think there is a very big difference between the two, for these reasons: Beth’s weblog is not advertised as a review blog. It’s mostly about her personal life and experiences, with an occasional review thrown in. DA is exclusively about reviews. Beth doesn’t try to bring traffic into her weblog in any overt way. DA runs contests and gives awards. Which of course is generous, but also brings people in, which is most likely the goal of such undertakings. I give away things here, as well, and of course I hope that more people will stop by and decide to have a look at one of my novels.

    If you take this weblog, DA and Sum of Me (Beth), I would say that the differences are pretty clear. I write fiction for a living, full time, and I started that career after twelve years as a professor during which time I published a lot of nonfiction, including a lot of critical reviews. All of my income comes from publishing, and like all authors these days, I have an ever larger share of the responsibility for marketing my own stuff, which means (at least in part) marketing myself. Hence the weblog. Dear Author is a review site set up by two women. I don’t know if they are otherwise employed in publishing, but my sense is that DA is a project that they care about quite a lot and would like to see flourish. Otherwise, why the giveaways? If they are not at this moment professional reviewers, they are leaning that way, building up a reader base and a following.

    Any new venture identifies a market and tries to find a unique approach to draw people in. DA chose the format of writing a letter to an author directly. Smart Bitches (which I’m bringing up here for the sake of comparison) have an approach that focuses on the book rather than the author. Because of this basic structural difference, SB can be snarky and profane and funny about a book; DA is about the atuhor. Beth’s Sum of Me is a very different approach, again. She loves reading and she feels strongly about what she reads. If she takes the time to write about a book, it’s because it moves her in a very good or very bad way. Beth isn’t actively pursuing a career in publishing, either as an author or as a reviewer.

    My sense is that of the three websites, the biggest burden of responsibility is on me, as I make my living writing and engaging readers. I would also argue that DA has more responsibility than Beth, because of the way they’ve set themselves up.

    I am very tired, but the point I’m trying to make is this: if it seems as if I’m holding Beth and DA to different standards, that’s because I am. If you don’t see the difference between them in the way I do, then yes, my reasoning would appear to be circular.

    And finally, here’s the difference between Beth’s ABOSAA review and the example reviews I made up.

    Beth cares about the Outlander series. Her review contained a very long love letter to the characters and the early novels. Her admiration was (as I read it) sincere and deep felt. She went to lengths to make all that clear before she launched into a very detailed list of reasons why she didn’t like ABOSAA, and what she saw as the flaws. Her tone was subjective and outraged, as somebody might be when a relationship breaks up. I find all of that appropriate to the context in which she writes.

    She wrote an emotional, strongly worded, anger fueled review. In the process she expressed her unhappiness with the author directly (the infamous elbow comment). I think the review suffers somewhat because it goes that far, but her outburst doesn’t negate the entire review.

    DA, on the other hand, goes after the author in a much more subtle way. Careful choice of words that attribute intent to the author (‘you were pretending’ is the example that comes to mind). Beth asks ‘what the hell were you thinking’ and DA presumes to know what the author was thinking (at least in some cases). I find the DA approach intellectually suspect and misleading. It violates some basic rules (my own rules, not necessarily anybody else’s) in the reviewing process and the unstated contract between reviewer and reader.

    Now, you may not agree with my characterization of one or all of these various review sites, but this is the reasoning behind the statements I’ve made. I should also point out that as a published author, I approach reviewing a little more gingerly than those who are not published and are not pursuing a career in publishing.

    I consider this an interesting topic, and I’m happy to discuss it more. Though it would probably be a good idea to wait until I’m more awake.

  9. Rosina, Your opinion of DA reflects mine as well. However, I do think that the two women have different styles of reviewing. Jayne seems to be more about the book and Jane points a finger at the author. Good for you for not going over to DA to voice your opinion.

  10. Melinda — very possible that I hadn’t read enough of Jayne’s reviews to distinguish, but as you’ve noted, I don’t visit DA anymore. I gather they are having a grand old time taking me to bits. Some people are very easily amused.

  11. Rosina, I think what trips me up is not the more general distinctions you’re making regarding review sites, most of which I agree with you on, but rather the wide variations one finds in reading the actual reviews. For example, there’s Beth’s review of Gaelen Foley’s Lord of Fire (http://tinyurl.com/j22f5), which is posted at Smart Bitches, but is in actual letter form to Foley and contains passages like the following:

    “You get how bad it is. You MEANT for it to be this bad. You’ve gone beyond the purple, Ms. Foley, and for that – I salute you!

    I mean, here so very MANY writers are working so hard and slaving to churn out something of real quality. Something that really SAYS something. And here so many readers are, looking and hoping and wistfully wondering if maybe this Romance novel will be the one to really speak to their hearts about love in a new way. We sit back and fork over our earnings, hope doled out in increments of $6.99 (Canada: $9.99), only to have those hopes dashed time and time again on the hard and jagged rocks of yet another boring motherfucking cliché that I read back when I was thirteen. (Note: performative statement.)

    But you’re right, Gaelen. You don’t mind if I call you Gaelen, do you? And you don’t mind if I break the fourth wall here for a second and admit that I’m beating up on you just because your oeuvre had the misfortune to be sitting at the top of a pile of steaming horseshit? (And by horseshit, I mean about a dozen other acclaimed romance novels.)

    No? Great, then I’ll just continue, confident that you understand this is nothing personal.”

    Another very funny and insightful review from Beth, but this time on a more recognizable review site (although IMO SB is so much more than that). I understand everything you’re saying about Beth’s outrage as part of her persona and the strong sense of investment one must have in order to get that pissed off. But the one or two times I’ve been there with a book, it’s been accompanied by a very personal resentment against the author. When, for example, I read Brenda Joyce’s The Conqueror, I was so flabbergasted and horrified and angry at what I felt that book perpetrated on women everywhere, especially those in her book and in the Romance reading community, that I was like out of my head wanting to sit Joyce down and make her listen for HOURS IN DETAIL to all of my objections, and then I wanted to send her home with about 100 pounds of feminist theory. That book is at the pinnacle (or the depth) of my hateration, but I know darn well that I felt insulted by the author of that book, and that should I ever formally review it, I would have to divorce myself from some of those feelings PDQ.

  12. Oops, I was typing so fast I hit post without meaning to.

    Anyway, I was saying that when I read Beth’s two reviews for Gabaldon and Foley, her anger feels far more personally directed at each author than, say, Jane’s review of Karin Tabke’s new book did (and BTW, I bought Tabke’s book and have been trying to read it, and there are some extraordinarily frustrating things about the book and the characters that I think are actually indicative of certain sub-genres of Romance to begin with). So while Beth may not be reviewing books at a dedicated review site (well, most of her reviews, at least), I think the two I referred to here are actually much more personally directed at the author as much as at the book itself. That’s one of the reasons I think people resonated to them — either positively or negatively — the way they did.

    I was also thinking about the following D- review on AAR for Jenna Peterson’s From London With Love, which included the following passage:

    “Every event, every emotion is writ large and writ often. We are left in no doubt as to what plot points or feelings Petersen thinks are important for they are repeated repeatedly. Meredith must muse on the importance of getting her hands on a certain letter at least twenty times. She feels guilt over every instance of kindness from Tristan’s mother. Meredith even gets physically nauseous – more than once – when she finds Tristan doing something suspicious. It is all a bit much. There is nothing at all subtle about Petersen’s writing and I really came to resent how stupid she must think her readers are.”

    Is this over the line? I ask this seriously, because I really do think there is a difference between invoking the author as a craftsperson and invoking her as a person. I have no idea, for example, what kind of a person Brenda Joyce is, but as a craftsperson, I thought what she did in The Conqueror was all sorts of shades of irresponsible and abusive, not only of the history she claimed to employ, but also of her characters and her readers. Can I not say that? If, for example, you took away the “Dear Author” moniker at DA’s site and stripped the reviews of that salutation, would the whole debate be different, as well?

    It may just be that you and I have different lines when it comes to what’s permissible and what isn’t, or rather what’s professional and what isn’t. Or it may just be that this is where you and I part over the author – reader divide. As an author, you may just necessarily have a different take on this than I do. If someone in my own field said something like, “she writes with all the elegance of a 4th grader,” I’d likely be pissed, too.

    I think my biggest problem here is that I see blogland shaking out such that there’s a pretty recognizable middle ground in terms of reader review blogs, where the readers really are readers and are appealing to other readers. And I think that middle ground is going to have a somewhat varied population, but the range of voices will eventually be sort of self-defining (bloggers will themslves sort of naturally gravitate toward this middle ground) and easily recognizable. I still very much see Dear Jane as part of this middle “class” so to speak, somewhere between the strident commentators (I use the term loosely) and the dry as a bone tenor of, say, Publisher’s Weekly or RT. There are other blogs out there — even those in what seems to be shaping up to be that middle class — that I see as measurably more strident than DA, even though I’m probably in the minority in that opinion. So while I think I understand where you’re coming from vis a vis the big picture of reviewer responsibility, I don’t see Dear Author as having crossed the same lines as you do, I guess.

  13. one clarification: by “middle class,” I’m obviously invoking that lovely Victorian concept of respectability, but hopefully without all the baggage of that whole virgin-whore nonsense.

  14. I have to do some shaking out (to borrow your very apt turn of phrase) of your post as there are a number of distinct points I’d like to respond to. And that will have to wait until later today. But right off the top: I never saw Beth’s review on SB (the one you quote from), and if I had, I would have flagged it as over the line.

    Really, that’s the challenge, as you’ve noted. The LINE. My line and your line do seem to intersect for long stretches, which is maybe part of the reason we’ve got a place to start this discussion.

    More later.

  15. I’m gong to add another variable in here, too, which is the fact that individual “reviewers” can step over the line in one instance and not in another. Should we pay attention to the context in each situation? Does a reviewer get a lifetime average? Is there room for evolution and growth in the evaluation process? What does it mean that I, for example, who have been trained by the best sharks in the lit crit business, can perhaps take a book apart much more politely but nonetheless as ruthelessly as someone who might just be more blunt and less interested in the niceties? That’s a facet of this issue that has actually made me more tolerant in my views on reader reviewers who may make me wince but are also saying something I find myself in reluctant agreement with. That’s the point at which I become much less certain about some of the more subtle differences we’re poking at here.

  16. Rosina, I hope that Bunny is feeling better today and you were able to get some rest.

    My response to the beginning of this discussion and at the risk of over simplifying, is… I believe Freedom of Speech is what it all boils down to, and that includes the style in which you choose to express yourself. Some people are more comfortable with controversy and leap at the chance to state their opinions. I hardly think that responding to someone, who is rude and vulgar is lowering yourself to their level. In my case it’s the need to be understood, to present and listen to ideas that could eventually make our world, or at least my corner, a better more harmonious place.

    The more recent discussion delves into areas that I have little experience because I’m not familiar with the mentioned sites, but I find it interesting. My thoughts are, and I hope that I’m not veering off topic: writing is an art form and artists in other areas can be criticized personally and held accountable for the art they produce. Actors and filmmakers are two that come to mind. However aren’t they usually making a controversial statement before they’re personally scrutinized or burned at the stake? Otherwise they are simply tagged with having produced a flop or played a bad part.

    Wilma aka WB

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