when honesty is just plain mean

I'm not one to make waves.  Nor do I like confrontation.  I'm not a woman of many convictions and tend to be easily swayed by other's opinions.  I like to think of it as being open-minded.  BUT I'm often embarrassed that I'm not more opinionated.


sometimes opinionated, or rather, judgemental people are just MEAN.  What opinions and beliefs I do have, I tend to keep to myself.  Cowardly, definitely.  The MC in my contemporary YA novel is going through a simliar dilemma.  How to be true to herself by sticking up for herself by being herself.  And just not worrying whether somebody else will disagree or laugh at her or think she's ridiculous or stupid. 

One thing I admire about Taylor Swift is this:  Plenty of people make fun of her.  Her singing isn't good.  She sings off-key.  She's annoying.  BUT it doesn't stop her from being HONEST in her music and her songs.  She's naive and innocent and HONEST.  Her lyrics are from her heart, her real-life experiences and they hold messages for other young girls. 

She inspires me and my writing.  Her music helps my YA themes and protags.

I'm trying not to worry about what other people's opinions of me will be when they read my writing.  EVEN THOUGH IT SCARES THE S**T OUT OF ME. 

One example comes to mind. Stephenie Meyer is a very successful writer who is not at all well-respected.  I think even if I sold millions of copies of my novel and made an equal amount of money through the sale of books and films, I'd want to crawl in a hole and shrivel up if my supportive writing community bashed my writing, characters and story.  As I sit here and write my first two novels and plot a third, I just want them to be on a shelf one day and hope that a few people read them and enjoy them.  I'm sure that's all she hoped for.  I certainly never plan to be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King.  I doubt she did either.  Yet she's constantly compared.  And found waaaay lacking.  So far the writing community online has been AMAZING, but they seem to have turned on her.  Even if MANY writers dislike her writing, and all it consists of, WHY put her down so much? 

I hope by the time my 12th novel is written and stands a chance at an agent my writing will be stellar (and only because you, my writing friends, will have shown me the way) and I won't have to suffer quite the amount of criticism she has.  THAT SAID, I know there will ALWAYS be reviewers who dislike my work, my style, my characters, my pace, etc.  I KNOW harsh criticism will always be a part of my writing future and life in general.  I KNOW writers need to be thick-skinned.  I guess I was just thinking about it the other day and wondered if she wondered why so many people felt compelled to take the criticism of her work to such extremes.


I've sat at Mother. Write. Repeat.  (see yesterday's post for link!) for the past few hours and have become ADDICTED to reading the queries.  Critiques of the queries are posted online. I don't even comment because I have little confidence in myself as a critiquer.  I'm learning, though.  I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the queries along with the first pages.  The commenters have been honest and helpful and constructive.  AMAZING, like I said before.  Plus, the take of the agent is interesting!  Sometimes in line with the other commenters, and sometimes not. 

A few things I came a way with:

-There seems to be a new trend in starting a story with an accident of some sort (usually car).

-There are STILL some writers who want to start with that all-too intriguing dream scene.  ;0)

-An MC (especially females) need to be strong, smart, good role models (no damsel in distresses). 

This seems easy, I think, but often enough we may tend to play the weak card in the beginning so our MC can grow into the strong person hiding within them.  BE CAREFUL WITH THIS.  It may really turn an agent off to read weakness in your MC in the first page!  Don't make "weak" the character flaw your MC begins with.

I had totally planned for this to be a short post.  Sorry! (erica interjects - this is great, christy. erica's post tomorrow about mean people will be much worse. Or better. Or different (and completely unrelated). Something. :)


  1. I've heard that about Taylor. I'm sure it's that honesty and heart why people love her music.

  2. I guess I'm out of the loop because I've never heard anyone say anything mean about Taylor Swift (and the thought of it kinda makes me want to kick their butts). And the whole thing with Stephanie Meyer? I wish the people who were trashing her would remember that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything. Their nasty comments versus her amazing sales & beaucoup $$ make them all look pretensious and sour-grapey. Feh.

  3. Oooohhhh, the blurred line between honest and mean!

    I know some people who get away with saying something really mean, then, when busted about it, say, "I was just being honest."

    I don't have this one figured out, either, which is why I keep my mouth shut a lot.


  4. I'm glad you didn't make it a short post, this is excellent stuff! It's hard not to worry about what others will think of us and our writing (especially hard for me as I'm on the verge of debuting!). Stephanie Meyer is a great example of how much people's opinions can differ.

  5. I like Taylor's voice--I think the sort of shaky thing lends to the honesty of her music--I mean she's a little precious, but that's because I'm a metalhead.

    I've been totally guilty of bashing Meyer... I think about 90% of her problem though, is she had a high concept twist on an OLD OLD tale (Romeo and Juliet) but that high concept thing pushed agent, publisher and editor alike all to RUSH those books out--Bella could never be interesting (though works nicely as a blank slate every angsty teenage girl can put herself in place of), but a few more drafts and the WRITING could be significantly improved.

    I have a line though, on author bashing... I really only do it when somebody is already a millionnaire. I figure someone that financially successful ALSO has a lot of people who love them and is unlikely to ever run across the likes of ME and my opinion.

    As for 'real people' (aka: non-millionnaires and particularly new authors) I figure full HONESTY is reserved for personal email meant to improve non-final drafts. The public stuff is HONEST, but focused on strengths. If there aren't enough strengths to not look strained, I figure it is best to just walk away. I try very hard not to be mean.

  6. Oh, thank you for sticking up for Stephenie Meyer! I love the Twilight books and after I re-read the first one for the 3rd time!!! - I finally slowed down enough to start thinking about why the story was so good; I studied the first chapter very carefully and I think it's very well written. Then I even found an editor who agreed at the Blood Red Pencil.

    A couple times I've tried to tackle why the Twilight books get so dissed on my blog. For one thing, Breaking Dawn gets pretty bizarro. I still like it, though not as much as the first book. And I do see people's points about Bella being so consumed with Edward that she just loses herself. However, that's one thing I really LIKED in Breaking Dawn, despite some of the weird parts, is how strong and decisive Bella gets.

    Okay, sorry, I'm rambling. But I really liked your point about we have to be thick-skinned about our writing, but sometimes the bashing gets really ridiculous.

    I've never paid much attention to Taylor Swift, but my stepdaughter loves her and made me watch that video you posted! I'll have to pay more attention to her lyrics now!

  7. I think people blast her because they are bored and have nothing better to do, though it really doesn't do good for her reputation. Great post. I understand your fears because I have some of the same.

  8. You're right. There is a point where it's no longer criticism and just being mean. I don't like Stephanie Mayer or Taylor Swift, but I'm not going to make fun of their works. Over all, they've done pretty well for themselves. People like them. Whether or not I like it, they're doing something right.

  9. Love this post--very thought-provoking. I agree that the Stephenie Meyer bashing has gone on long enough. Honestly, she's done very well for herself and I haven't seen any evidence that she's a major a-hole, so why can't we just leave her alone (*I haven't read all the Twilight books by the way, but I enjoyed The Host*). That's like when people diss Dan Brown and John Grisham for their writing. Get over it, peeps :) Life's too short to be negative in unnecessary circumstances. Unprovoked meanness bothers me too.

  10. Aw, Christy,

    I felt so much honesty and vulnerability in your post. NEVER underestimate your views. Anyone can critique. You especially have wonderful insight.

    As for the bashing, you're right. One can critique a persons work WITHOUT turning into Rambo.

  11. my girls love Taylor Swift, but I'd never heard that song. I LOVE IT! :D You know the other meaning of "mean" is "small." Very appropriate, I think. I think Meyers work is captivating and has done much for the YA market. So kudos to her.

    a criticism I got from an editor was that my writing "wasn't literary enough" for their imprint. That stung. But... onward and upward! :o) ((hugs))

  12. You are a great critiquer! Find the confidence within, my friend, and hold on to what you have accomplished.


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