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07 September 2011 @ 02:10 pm
best readers ever.  

Jim C. Hines (whose utterly terrific Goblin & Princess (um, not together, although now I kinda want him to write a Goblin & Princess story) serieses you should read if you haven’t already) has done an interesting post about the differences between his and his alternate-universe-self Jane C. Hines’s careers.

The upshot of it–though you should go read, because it’s an interesting post in and of itself and the comments are at least as interesting–is that Jane’s had a much harder time of it, career-wise, than Jim has, because he has the societal advantage of being a white male. The examples in his post are taken from and informed by real experiences by writers of both genders, and it’s worth taking a look at. Furthermore, what I’m about to say obviously does not invalidate the basic problems he’s highlighting in his post, but–

Seriously, either I’m the most fortunate female writer in the world, with the most unbelievably awesome reader base, or I’m doing something terribly wrong. I do not receive death threats. I do not catch shit for my weight, my opinions, my stories, my politics, my gender, my anything, frankly.

I know my friends do. I know people who are reduced to tears by the hate mail they get. Me, what I get is–in six years of publication, I’ve had, let’s see, one woman take me to task for using the word “fuck” in the Strongbox Chronicles, one very long letter written by a crazy lady, the details of which I genuinely no longer recall, one man who conflated me with Joanne Walker and thought we were soulmates, but who went away without a fuss when I explained the boundaries, and a handful of condescending comments from people who mostly didn’t intend to be condescending.

Is it because I write under CE Murphy? Maybe, though as I’ve said before, writing under my initials had *nothing* to do with disguising my gender and everything to do with 1. not liking to be called “Catherine” by anybody except Ron Perlman & understanding that people tend to call you by the name on the cover of the book, and 2. not thinking “Catie” was particularly grown-up enough for adult novels. When a friend suggested using my initials, I thought “Brilliant!” It was like two years after my first book came out that somebody first asked if I’d used my initials to disguise my gender, and I was flabbergasted. The idea never crossed my mind. I’m still flabbergasted, for that matter.

Is it because my blog is, well, pretty boring? Very possibly. It’s not high-traffic, issue-oriented* or the revelation of an on-going train wreck of a life. Perhaps the hateful people can’t be bothered with me because I’m not individually interesting enough.

Is it that I don’t read reviews and therefore miss out on loathing? Possibly, but hell, that’s just *sensible*, people, and what Jim and others are talking about is email landing in their box, not stuff they’ve sought out.

Is it because my characters don’t hit controversial buttons? Nobody’s ever shrieked about Billy, nobody called Belinda a slut, nobody ever…okay, really, my characters aren’t enormously controversial, I don’t think. I don’t think I have much of an Agenda in my writing. Perhaps I should be tackling Topics instead of just telling stories?

Really, I do not know how I am spared this, except for having the greatest readers in the world, but I tell you what, I’m grateful as hell that I am spared it. So, y’know, thank you. Thank you all for being awesome.

*I sometimes wish I could do a more issue-oriented blog. I watch people who do and I’m impressed and wonder how the hell they find time. And then I remember I’ve been publishing an average of 300,000 words a year for the past six years, and I realize I’m just choosing to spend my time differently, and I’m obviously okay with that.

(x-posted from the essential kit)
 
 
 
Xixpioti on September 7th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC)
You once said something along the lines of being flabbergasted whenever you learned that someone didn't like you, because everybody likes you! And I think that's what it is, you're just too likeable and approachable for most people to get their hate on. :) Your self-confidence shines through in your writing, which makes you less of a target; it's no fun to be mean to someone who doesn't get all weepy. :) Let's face it, you're wonderful, you know it, we know it, and anybody who disagrees is probably going to sit in their angry little corner sulking.
kitmizkit on September 7th, 2011 09:43 am (UTC)
Actually it's more I assume everyone will like me and that I in turn will of course like them, but yes, same general idea. :)
Xixpioti on September 7th, 2011 10:28 am (UTC)
That's the phrasing you used, thank you! My sleepy brains don't work too well. :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on September 7th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
This is so true. Catie, you're one of the nicest people we know, and if there's any basis in karma, it's in that people tend to react instinctively to one based on how one behaves in the first place.

(And no, I don't know how you do it. I'm sure you must grump and growl as much as the rest of us, but somehow you manage to get your nice side in first, and as they say, first impressions count. Damn you, woman, damn you for it!)
kitmizkit on September 7th, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
I'm inherently pretty cheerful, and when I'm not I largely keep it off the net, is all :)
Kate Kirbykirbyk on September 7th, 2011 09:58 am (UTC)
You are very likeable. :)

But also, for better or worse, you've gotten to the point where you're well known and read amongst people who like the kind of thing you do, but not well known in adjacent circles. People who scoff at Urban Fantasy entirely don't interact with you. You don't have the fame of a Stephanie Meyer or Diana Wynne Jones yet. So most people who read your stuff are people who like good urban fantasy, and that's what you provide.

I predict, if you get a writing gig at DC or Marvel, and I dearly hope you do, some of these folks will start to show up. (I don't understand at all why there exist people that have huge problems with women, but they do exist.)
kitmizkit on September 7th, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
*laughs* I think I'm likeable, but I may be biased in that regard. :)

Yes, it's entirely possible I'm not famous enough, although I'm not actually certain how much more (or why) some of the other people are More Famous. Wider releases, perhaps, or ... I don't know.

If I get a gig at DC or Marvel I will be willing to take on people like that if they come with it. :)

As far as I can tell, most of the reason people have a huge problem with anything is, when you get right down to it, fear. Women are terrifying, you know. o.O
pgwfolcpgwfolc on October 2nd, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
Definitely likeable. :)

Also helps that you haven't taken controversial soapbox stands. I think sometimes people get "famous" just for that. Wider releases certainly come into it. And, in a way, genre can change the types of fans you have and the mindsets from which they approach your work.

Anyway, I'm glad your positivity has been karmicly rewarded so far. :)

One thing that's been in the back of my head since I saw this post, though: You mentioned people who'd been unintentionally condescending. I do hope I haven't fallen into that category. (I've had problems. Long story. I'll spare you.) If so, I apologize.
UrsulaVursulav on September 7th, 2011 10:49 am (UTC)
I am also one of the stupidly-lucky bloggers out there, in that I apparently have seriously awesome readers who don't send me death threats and are generally polite and civilized and nifty.

I've had one or two minor dust-ups around my weight while doing Digger--seriously, guys, claiming that Digger weighed 220lbs because *I* must weigh 220 and then posting horrible third-day-of-con photos to back up this claim is so far out of line you cannot even SEE the line from there--but it died quickly, and I don't think it was actually mean-spirited, just total-lack-of-social-skills. I don't know that I would have gotten that if I was male...but ONE incident in fourteen years on the internet is pretty darn tame.

Also, I don't read reviews. I think it's just easier on the soul.
kitmizkit on September 7th, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
You've got a considerably larger readership than I do, too, so yeah, I just don't entirely get it. Although I'm willing to accept we're just both insanely fortunate. :)
Mary Annepers1stence on September 7th, 2011 11:13 am (UTC)
It's interesting that there's a bit of an upsurge in people talking about this right now. I know that there were a couple of posts that have gone viral talking about the negative reaction that some (many?) women get when they are out in the public eye, but it's always a matter of some curiosity about what makes an issue like this "sticky" (in the sense of getting people talking and thinking).

While the posts I've seen lately have been talking about writers/bloggers, it's also something to consider in the wider world. For example, when Hilary was running for President -- much of the discussion was about her policies (legitimate), but there were some nasty attacks about the (quite minimal) amount of cleavage she was exhibiting. No one attacked any of the male candidates for their attire. People attacked Sarah Palin (not my favorite person, admittedly) for being a bad mother based on the fact that she was out campaigning instead of staying at home with her kids, but no one attacked Obama or Romney or any of the fathers for going out on the campaign trail or working demanding jobs.

I know, I know, preaching to the choir......
dtm on September 9th, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
Let us also not forget the infamous group Citizens United. Not only are they responsible for what will probably come to be viewed as one of the worst USSC decisions in decades, they were formed as an explicitly anti-Clinton hate group originally called "Citizens United, Not Timid". Yes, seriously. When the group was getting itself together, the founders were even really cheeky to the press about it and patting themselves on the back for how clever they were being with the name there.
Dinidamedini on September 7th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
I read the recent blog post mentioned by Wil Wheaton, referring to John Scalzi, referring to a female food blogger about the insane attacks she receives. The amout of anger and hate in the world today absolutely astonishes me. If people took the energy that they're using to hate and attack and channeled it into something positive, the world would be a different place.
I am glad that you don't get this kind of nonsense. I am trying to figure out a way to inspire and spread a movement of countering that kind of hate - but I'm ferklempt. Anything I come up with (so far) would only fuel the haters into more hate.
Chrysoulachrysoula on September 7th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about this, too. I've never experienced any of the stuff, online or off, that so many women do. All right, 'never' is too strong. Once, from some future friends in college, my gender was noticed. Twice, I think, in real life, has a stranger said something to me relative to my appearance/gender.

I know in early college I was somewhat protected by my name, because the software listing for me only allowed eight letters and people assumed 'chrysoul' was male. Maybe people still assume 'Chrysoula' is male? Or ambiguous enough not to be pestered? Because while I don't have a big blog, I've never had any kind of gendered harassment in any of the internet arguments I've thrown myself into.

Anyhow, I've wondered if I'll see more of this if I become more well-known. I do have this feeling like it has a lot to do with presented name, and that if I do end up getting harassment it will more likely be of a 'godless foreigner' variety, because my name isn't going to conjure up images of other women the harasser may have associations with.
Marithmarith on September 7th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
I dunno! From here it seems evident that you just project, not only niceness, but an air of Not-Putting-Up-With-That-Cowflop. A crazy troll could irritate you, but I don't think they could drive you to floods of tears in the way that is presumably their life goal.

But, a crazy troll wouldn't really know that, would they? And even if they did, crazy = not likely to care. So probably your Aura of Awesome is not fending them off, as appealing as that thought is. (And if Aura of Niceness repelled trolls, then Neil Gaiman wouldn't get them. Darnit.)

Voting with Kirby that as your fame goes up you are more likely to attract them. But they will not slow you down. :)
HL Henriksonveilofgrace on September 8th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
I deleted the giant linguistic discussion I was having with myself in favor of nutshelling. :)

Yesterday (out of the blue and before I was aware of this issue), I said to my husband, "I love Mizkit's stories because her voice crosses gender lines." This is especially true of the Walker Papers, and it's true of your blog. You are a woman who complains about not exercising, who shares her shopping sprees and her squees. But then you also commit to action. You detail your swimming and your miles. You show us the fashion image you're trying to create, and declare yourself a winner. Your squees aren't over pretty boys or pets or even Young Indiana (I imagine you keep those for yourself!), they're over your WORK. And you throw in the occasional soapbox rant to spice things up. All those things show that yes, you are female, and yes, you are a hard-working professional. And you wrap it up in a cheery, accessible, geek-friendly package that writes female ideas in more masculine terms.

Basically, your blog says, "Hi, I'm a writer and I mean business! I get along with everybody, but if you cross me, I'll wipe the floor with you. Then I'll have Jo box up what little soul you have left and send it to Belinda to finish the job. Oh, and by the way, I have *brownies!*"

That's my theory, anyway. :)
HL Henriksonveilofgrace on September 8th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
"Masculine terms" here being associated with what I deleted. Meaning the way, linguistically, American men are taught to express themselves versus the way women are.
irishkate: soapboxirishkate on September 8th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
We are the best fans around, basically
Flitterbyflit on September 10th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad that you don't! Not that anyone deserves it, but grrr. You work hard enough and don't need any of that.