Tuesday, May 30, 2017

4 Writer's Life: On Threats Against Authors, Kindness, Stress, Taking Care of Yourself, and Appreciation

In case you are not on Twitter, you may have missed today's latest kerfuffle.

Here it is:

How in the world has this become acceptable? But the saddest thing to me is that we see this not only from teens, but also from authors and bloggers who hate read other books, who feel it's okay to step over civil boundaries. We see it from the President of the United States and those who run for Congress.

I feel as though we are stepping into a rabbit hole from which there may be no returning.

Whatever our differences, however deeply we feel our grievances, however much others have hurt us, can we not aspire to do better? I'm not suggesting that we turn the other cheek. I'm suggesting there are more effective ways of getting the result we want.

Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter, recently said "the internet is obviously broken because it rewards extremes." He "also says he was wrong in thinking that the world would be a better place if there was a platform for everyone to freely speak and exchange ideas."

I have to say that I agree, despite the fact that my parents and I left a communist country to come here--for the express purpose of having the right to speak and express ourselves. At some point, we need to stack up where one person's right to freedom of expression stacks up against the right to the pursuit of happiness for many others. We have to decide, fundamentally, whether we want to be a society that teaches our children to be dysfunctionally angry, hate reading, threatening to beat people up because plot lines don't go our way, or whether we want to teach kindness, appreciation, tolerance, and patience.

Don't get me wrong. There are very real things wrong in the world. Things that desperately need to be addressed. We need not to be disregarding science. We need more diversity, in books and everything else. We need to represent the society that we have, and we need to keep our public officials in check so that they serve us and not themselves. We need to preserve our freedoms, not contract them. We need to maintain our position on the global stage, as a partner for other like-minded nations, and as responsible members of the human race.

All of that's a given.

But we do need kindness. To ourselves and each other. Especially in the book community, because books are how we derive empathy. If we aren't fostering empathy through reading fiction, then what are we doing? Shaming people, guilting people, lecturing people, doesn't change minds and hearts. Changing hearts requires conversation and understanding. Empathy.

I've mostly been off Twitter the last months, off most social media, because I've been writing up a storm. That's been utterly fabulous, and LAKE OF DESTINY is going well, so I'm incredibly grateful. But I lost my hearing in my right ear about ten days ago, suddenly and completely, and it turns out that I actually have a congenital defect in my left that has left me with very limited hearing overall. The specialist I saw on Friday has told me that this is likely due to a virus resulting from suppression of my autoimmune system, triggered by stress.

I don't feel particularly stressed. I frankly don't feel entitled to feel stressed. But if I am responding physically to the stress of what's going on in my life and in the world, I can only imagine how others must be feeling.

We can all do better. We need to try to find ways to live with grace, charity, and kindness.

Love you guys. Sorry for the rant.




  1. Beautifully written, Martina! Thanks for saying what I've been feeling. Twitter used to be a safe place to connect with other writers. Now, it adds to my stress, and that makes me sad.

    Hugs to you for being brave and addressing this!

    1. I'm so sorry that you--and so many others--feel this way, too. The truly, truly sad thing is that unlike you, most people don't even feel safe to respond publicly. I'm getting DMs on Twitter and Pos on Facebook and email through my website telling me how many people feel the same way. That tells me we no longer have freedom of speech, and that's the greatest loss of all.

      Hugs back and thanks for commenting!

  2. Kindess matters - period. I take it very seriously as an educator to teach kindness and civility along side literacy etc. It's frightening to see the amount of meanness and lack of caring that exists in even very young students. It's time for a MAJOR turnaround.

    1. I couldn't agree more. We're devolving so rapidly that it makes my head spin. And how do you reverse this kind of a trend if not from examples of those of us who write and provide the examples of what interactions could be?


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