Several days ago now, an article circulated around the Outlander fandom. I found the comments made on the article itself and those made on various FB pages and Twitter very telling. Here is the article for any who want a refresher or may not have seen it in the first place.
Many people made comments about how if she doesn’t want reader feedback then she shouldn’t engage in social media. Now I could easily be wrong here, but I don’t think the feedback in and of itself is the problem; it’s the people saying she is writing something ‘wrong’. In their opinion. I don’t know this author or her books (yet) so I really don’t know for sure. I have, however, been around the Outlander fandom for a little while now and have seen the same sort of thing.
It astonishes me that people actually have the temerity to tell an author they are writing their own story wrong. I mean…..seriously? Does anyone like it when someone that doesn’t know them, has no idea what is in their head or hearts makes crass, judgmental comments about their parenting? That they are doing it wrong? It really is not so different. A book is something the author creates and, in the case of fiction, it is their own universe they are writing. The only person that gets to say its ‘wrong’ is the creator (or maybe the publisher – I haven’t gotten to that step yet myself).
As a reader, I have no contract with the author. They are not at MY beck and call. I can choose to read their work – or not. An author of fiction especially is not providing a service where I have the right to complain if it doesn’t meet certain standards. Ms. Gabaldon is one author that seems to thrive on feedback, but I highly doubt she has ever changed what goes on the page due to what her readers think.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t have an opinion! Of course you should and do. It is perfectly ok to express that OPINION. To say, “I didn’t like this particular passage because it made me so very uncomfortable and seems, to me, to be promoting something very unhealthy.” That is a well expressed opinion. Compare that to, “How could you have written that? That is absolutely wrong! It promotes violence and hatred. You need to rewrite that whole part of the book!”
Case in point. Many, many people didn’t like the spanking scene in Outlander – I found it perfectly acceptable. How I was raised, my life experience, my own grasp of reality let me take it in context and not stress it. Others simply could not do that. Some people explained their concerns well and I understood where they were coming from without agreeing with them. Others were absolute snots about it. Some people actually gave up reading Outlander or any of the rest of the books at all because of that one small passage. Their choice – but they acted like DG wrote it to personally offend them.
Again, any writing I do here is just MY opinion. I put it out there to give people another view of things. Agree with me or not – I don’t much care. I love open discussion. In my opinion, part of reading (or watching) things you don’t like is because it is stretching you outside a comfort zone. Perhaps to gain a different vision, see a new facet of something. It may or may not change your thinking, but expanding your mind is always a good thing. Everyone has a choice for what they do / don’t put into their own mind. I don’t watch/read horror – I don’t see the point. I don’t read true crime because it depresses me how really evil people can be. I’d rather put more positive stuff in. Some people thrive on both those genres. I don’t get that, they don’t get me and that is ok.
The only thing you are ‘entitled’ to as a reader is that, when you pay for a book, all the pages are there in the correct order and that the binding doesn’t fall apart after one reading. Whether you enjoy it or not is on you – not the author.
There is another, I guess it’s actually an older blog, written some time ago that I just love. I go back and read this frequently to remind myself that it is my own responsibility to like or dislike something and to express myself well to others.