This post has been awhile in the making, but recent events prompted me to include it as my first post of November. Who doesn’t need a little kick on the first Monday of November? (There’s FIVE of them this month, just so you know.)
And by “kick” I mean “boot to the ass.”
DISCLAIMER: I do not do “passive-aggressive.” I do “directly aggressive.” It should go without mentioning that this post is not about anyone specific, but if you see yourself in any of the examples below, well….
You see, lately I’ve been reading things here and yon, and hearing some horror stories about…well…let’s call them “rude fuckers,” or RFs for the remainder of this post.
Now, you yourself may have been a RF from time to time, either deliberately or innocently (alternately “ignorantly” if that’s your preference). There are legit reasons to deliberately be a RF (because sometimes that’s the only way to be heard in certain situations I will address in a bit), but I’m going to start out by talking about the innocent RF. With NaNoWriMo starting up, it’s going to be tempting to engage in some of the examples I bring up below. Resist that temptation.
The innocent/ignorant RF brings their manuscript to an author’s signing and holds up the line by passing it to the signing author (who the event is supposed to be about) with a remark to the effect of “get back to me with your thoughts whenever.” Here’s a tip: DO NOT DO THIS. This is beyond rudeness. This is utterly crass and I can promise you your manuscript will not make it past the nearest trashcan, provided the author you just totally put in an awkward position doesn’t slide your opus back across the table to you with a “the fuck is wrong with you, GTFO.” For this, I invoke the Gif of Awesome:
(I know it sounds horrifying and you the person reading this would never ever consider doing such a thing, but it does happen. All the time. If you’re ever the one on the other side of the table, be prepared for it to happen to you. Because it will.)
Now let’s talk about the deliberate RF.
The deliberate RF goes out of their way to make sure the author Knows Them or Sees Them or Pays Attention To Them Somehow. These people are the ones that continue to contact/stalk/pester an author despite being told they’re being rude/tactless/making the author uncomfortable.
I’m going to pause here to put this in its own paragraph because it’s super important. I’m going to bold, italicize, and underline just so the message gets across:
IF ANYONE, AUTHOR OR NO, TELLS YOU THAT YOU MAKE THEM UNCOMFORTABLE, THE CORRECT RESPONSE IS TO APOLOGIZE AND LEAVE/STOP YOUR BEHAVIOR (such as non-physical contact, like emails or phone calls). Bonus hint: that apology is not “I’m sorry that wasn’t my intent” or “I’m sorry you’re uncomfortable.” These are not apologies. These are qualifying acknowledgements of your inappropriate behavior. An apology is “I’M SORRY” or “I’M SORRY I ____.” Apologies acknowledge YOUR wrongdoing/error/misstep and take responsibility for that action. APOLOGIES DO NOT PUT THE BLAME ON THE PERSON BEING APOLOGIZED TO. Do not attempt to explain your behavior or intent until asked to do so. (And you may never be asked, so you’re just going to have to live without offering it.)
Again, if you are told that you are making someone uncomfortable, genuinely (and correctly) apologize and stop your behavior.
Bonus note: Just because you apologize does not automatically guarantee forgiveness. Don’t expect anything from your apology. Just offer it and go.
Now back to our deliberate RF.
I’ve seen a lot of stories lately about harassment and inappropriate behavior from unpublished writers, fans, or just assholes who want attention any way they can get it. Here’s another hint: attention-seeking behavior/whining is for babies. Babies can’t communicate in any other way than whining and crying for someone’s attention. It’s not their fault – they’re infants. It’s all they can do until they grow up. Anyone over the age of four can express themselves in a better manner than screaming and crying (many much younger than that but I’m being reasonable here), and most of them are able to understand the word “no,” even if they don’t like hearing it. They may throw a tantrum (because hi, they’re small and may lack coping/understanding/communication skills), but they understand they’re being denied something they want.
If you, an unpublished writer, make an ass out of yourself to an author, agent, editor, or just the Internet at large, it’s going to get around that you’re a douchebag/RF. The publishing/writing world is very small and people talk. There are blogs like this one you’re reading now that will address/call out stupidity amongst our kind. There’s Twitter and Facebook and other ways to get the word out that Someone Is Being An Asshole and They Should Be Avoided. The writing community has their own version of a BOLO, more or less, so think about that before you do anything.
Now remember when I said above that I’d get back to the part where you sometimes have to be a deliberate RF in order to get yourself heard? Yeah. I’m not talking about insisting an author read your manuscript because they’ve said no before and now they can’t without making a scene at their own signing. (Hint: this is still unacceptable rudeness.) What I’m talking about here is when you make that author cause a scene. That’s right. Your Rude Fucketry has earned a rebuttal of Rude Fucketry from your target. (That’s right…target. Think about that. You might not consider them a target, because that sounds horrible, but that’s what you’re doing when you’re foisting unwanted, unwelcome, or unsolicited attention on someone – they’re the target of your behavior.)
You see, I am the author who will make a scene at her own signing if someone is being a RF. Potential embarrassment will not keep me from turning your asshatery back where it came from – on you. Sometimes, I have to be the Rude Fucker. Sometimes I have to write the Strongly Worded Letter to tell you that you’re being a RF and need to back the hell off. (The fact that doing so fills me with an evil glee is not the point here.)
So you might think me (or another author, or an agent, or an editor, or a barista, or waitstaff, or whomever) bitchy or rude or unpleasant for telling you “no” for whatever reason, but that’s your problem, not ours. Before you get pissy over a reaction to your behavior, maybe look to why they got pissed in the first place. It is very likely that you are the problem.