Hello, voracious readers,
The Slow Writer here coming at you slowly but surely. 😉 Recently, someone suggested I add my two cents about an article written in the Guardian by Alison Flood. You can find the link here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2020/jul/29/first-george-rr-martin-now-patrick-rothfuss-the-curse-of-sequel-hungry-fans
In short, it’s about the curse of sequel-hungry fans and their frustration with slow writers. Ahem! Ahem! Something I know a thing or two about.
So, are fans entitled to a piece of the author…
As mentioned in the article, the first thing that pops to mind is “Misery”. “I’m your #1 fan”, Annie says, swinging her sledgehammer.
I don’t think murderous, obsessed fans are the norm. Phew! The reality is a little more nuanced, but still as the lines blur between artist/politicians/princes and princesses and their devoted fans the question remains a fair one.
Social media changed the way fans connect with their favourite artists/authors on several levels. People have discovered for the first time in history (aside from all the revolutions around the world which ultimately led to bloody massacres) but I digress the populace discovered they have a voice without all the violence. A simple tweet can lead a beloved talk show host to her downfall.
Never has the veil separating the creator and consumer been so thin.
Those generations born before internet grew up with a sense of them and us. There was no way for me to connect with David Bowie. He existed on a magical island with all the other creatives in the world.
The working person paid bills and worked from 9 to 5. Yes, I know artists are people too, but are they? They rent out shopping centres so they can shop in peace. They buy $90 t-shirts. They live jet set lives and wear jet set clothes, while we watch from our living rooms.
For some, this has caused artists to become isolated and disconnected from reality, which is an entirely different topic, but social media has changed the fabric of how we consume media.
It eliminated the middleman, which is great! So many talented artists found success thanks to social media, because they have a direct link to their fanbase, but this also left the door open to unhealthy boundaries.
Side note: Cyberbullying is easy for many reasons, but mainly because of the anonymity. You can check the list or reasons here. http://endcyberbullying.net/why-do-people-cyberbully/
Why did I plop that tidbit there? The guise of anonymity has given way to familiarity. Don’t get me wrong. The intimacy we feel towards creators has existed since televisions made their way into our homes, but now we get to interact with them, chat with them on social media. We follow their lives up close and personal, and we get to comment/argue/support and trash them on Twitter.
To add fuel to the fire, a sense of entitlement has crept in because in part artists owe their success to their fans. I say in part, because a work of art doesn’t happen overnight. To achieve a bestseller, a lot of things have to take place for the reader to hold a copy of their favourite book.
This has created a rather strange relationship between author and reader.
Again, I’m not condemning social media. A lot of good has come from people learning to flex their democratic muscle, #metoo, and #blacklivesmatter for instance, and yet some public denunciations almost felt like a witch trial.
In short, social media has given the consumer power, and with great power comes great responsibility, which feels like a revolution. We’ve seen the good, but we’re also seeing the flip side, which is what this article is about.
An artist no matter his creed creates because they’re compelled to create, but this cannot be forced or coerced.
The inspiration, the dedication, the desire to create must come from within, and fans cannot dictate that creativity no matter how much they want it. Threats to an author’s livelihood might have the opposite effect.
No one can have ownership of your person, of your rights, and that includes your work. It’s not because you have the power to do it, that it means you should.
There are many reasons an author isn’t writing. Lack of inspiration, trying to get the story just right, personal problems, or they just doesn’t feel it anymore, and that belongs solely to the author. Trust me, if an author isn’t writing, or slow to write, they know it, and can’t help it. If they could turn out books every three months they would. Click the link below to know my view.
As for fans, they’re free to buy or not, read or not the long awaited beloved sequel, but to create a movement that tells people not to read just out of spite? That’s like saying my boss is threatening my salary if I don’t comply. Your boss can fire you, he can reprimand, but he shouldn’t threaten.
That, in my opinion, is an abuse of power that no one should hold over another person. I’m not just saying it, because I’m a slow writer, well maybe I am, and if I ever have the privilege of having a fan base, I hope my fans will have the patience to let my creative juices flow so I can produce the best story no matter how long it takes, and that’s the bottom line, isn’t it?
As a writer our motto should always be give the reader what he needs, not what he wants because otherwise it leaves everyone dissatisfied, and that in my opinion would be a tragedy.