Sometimes, Words Hurt

I received a really upsetting review yesterday. If you’ve read any of my past posts or follow me on Twitter, you know I adore ALL of my readers. Love Equality is very important to me. So when I saw that review on Amazon, it shut everything down. It stayed with me through the day and kept me up last night. This morning, the same reviewer turned up on Goodreads and I felt compelled to respond. I wanted to share this because not everyone is going to love your work and sometimes, it feels awful.

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My response:

Let me start by apologizing again (I did so on Amazon yesterday). It was never my intention to offend any member of the LGBTQ community. I would caution that suggesting an author shares all of the views of all of their characters is dangerous and it’s just unfair. Clearly, you’re very upset and that makes me sad. From all that you’ve said, you’re aware that Mason’s statement isn’t unusual. The phrase “In my experience…” suggests that he had a bad experience in the past. I’ve taken those words from similar statements I’ve heard and read from actual gay men. I didn’t invent this and I’m not happy about it. I try to make my characters feel real. In real life, good people can say terrible things and they aren’t always perfect. I want my characters to reflect that as well.

We are the sum of our experiences. Later, Mason deals with some insecurity issues caused by his past relationships. He copes with terrible slurs from his father that definitely weren’t my opinion and he learns that he wasn’t as over an ex that was gay and cheated on him (which happens with people of all preferences) as he thought he was. My characters suffer and sometimes they cause others to suffer. Because that’s life. I’m not condoning or judging the reality, I’m just including it.

If anything, I’m glad that we’re having this discussion. One of my goals in writing my M/M books is to highlight how similar LGBTQ couples are to straight couples. I want my straight readers to read a conversation and think “You know, I just had that exact argument with my husband!” and at the end of the book, I want them to need my characters to have a Happily Ever After as much as characters from M/F romances. If Mason’s not so unusual perception of bisexual men causes people to consider and possibly adjust their opinion, that’s wonderful.

Finally, I think it’s very limiting to have an all or nothing approach to books. If I tossed out a book as soon as I read something I didn’t like or agree with, I’d have read very few books over the course of my life. It’s the same with people. Sometimes, it’s worth taking the bad with the good. Maybe not. At the end of the day, I don’t want all of my characters to be just like me and the characters with the greatest flaws end up being my favorite.

Once again, I’m really sorry that you took such offense to that one statement. Those weren’t intended to be taken as an attack on anyone. It’s what I believed would be natural in the course of that conversation and was essential for character building. It’s not the theme of the book or anything that even comes up again. It certainly isn’t my opinion or something I agree with. I welcome and love readers of all types! I love Love of all types. And I love you, Fossilfriendly and truly respect your opinions and appreciate your feedback.

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Sometimes, Words Hurt

5 thoughts on “Sometimes, Words Hurt

  1. Interesting post. As a bisexual and also an M/M reader and writer, I’ve been annoyed at times reading books where there only seems to be the option of being gay or straight, and I think to myself “Why can’t anyone even entertain the notion of being bisexual?” But that’s more about the overall tone of the book than anything else. I think it’s okay if a character is narrow-minded. As you say, that’s real. It’s so much a part of the gay and lesbian community that it’s silly to pretend that kind of thinking doesn’t exist. I just wish in such cases that something, someone in the story would let the character know that yes, their thinking is biased. That’s my personal wish, anyway.

    As far as a negative review, I guess the best you can say is you did something risky, and you touched a nerve. It sounds like you’re reacting in a calm, rational fashion, so congrats on that. Yes, it hurts. But even Stephen King has said that being real, being truthful is likely to piss off people at times. You’re in good company. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. And I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t regret the comment but in hindsight, I regret not finding some way of addressing it. But I don’t think I could have without it feeling awkward. The other character is obviously confused by it as I often am. I don’t want to come across as an apologist or try to make excuses for doing it. I already hate that I felt the need to defend it. I don’t want to avoid writing about things just because I don’t like them if I feel like it’s natural to the character or part of his development. Life is messy. Especially in love and sex. I’m feeling very drawn to the idea of a bisexual character and facing this issue directly. This is a perspective I’m going to have to research and gain more of an understanding of first though.

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    1. Whenever I read back through my books I generally allow myself to fix errors but not change the actual content. Believe me, if I started doing that, I’d rewrite some of my Abigail Graves books! I stand by my belief that characters shouldn’t be perfect and that the comment wasn’t unusual or unnatural for the situation.

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