READER ENTITLEMENT

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.

Joanne Harris issues call for greater respect from readers

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.

opinions vary

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.

Entitlement issues… Posted by Neil Gaiman

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8 thoughts on “READER ENTITLEMENT

  1. Amen. As a reader of anything, the only thing you are entitled to is the work within the front and back covers. You are only guaranteed *the chance* to like it – or not. Share your opinion with others – please do! – but you don’t get to dictate to someone – ANYONE – what they should or shouldn’t say.

    Great blog!

  2. Sue R. says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I suppose some percent of readers were always thus. However, I have to think that social media encourages and enables this sort of bad behavior. I certainly hope that the entitled complainers would not be so bold (rude) when face to face with an author.

    Oh, and thanks for the Neil Gaiman link!

    • rynawolfe says:

      LOVE the Neil Gaiman link! As I said, I like to read it periodically as a reminder to myself and it holds true for anything, not just authors. Thanks so much for the comment

  3. Marc Spurlock says:

    Great commentary! We all wonder why so many take fiction so personally. After all, it is just fiction.

    • rynawolfe says:

      It’s a great way to get out of your own head for a while and to experience things you couldn’t otherwise, but yes, still fiction. No matter how great the characters ARE, they are not more important than living breathing humans that are in your world. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  4. Kathy Demers says:

    I just don’t get it. If you don’t like how a particular story is written, move on. Diana Gabaldon has sold 25 million books so that tells me she’s pleasing someone, myself being one of them. Do I like every single word she wrote? No, but I’m sure those words that did nothing for me are someone’s favorite passage and vise versa. It’s her story, her words, her point of view.

    • rynawolfe says:

      And I’m all for expressing opinions – so is Diana from what I’ve seen. Getting other perspectives is good for any author. The difference is having someone explain what made them uncomfortable or what they loved compared to railing about the author being ‘wrong’. See to me, a fiction writer can’t be ‘wrong’ about their own story/world. Not everyone will agree with them, but it is THEIR world. Thanks for taking the time to comment Kathy! I appreciate it!

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