Hopefully the title isn’t too inflammatory, but if it is, I suppose that’s kind of how things fall out sometimes. No one likes everything (myself included), so it’s only natural for someone to dislike my title. And if you don’t like it, you have many choices on how to react to it: bitch me out (here, privately, or on other social media), bitch about me without telling me, ignore the title and this blog post, tell your friends I’m an asshole and have them bitch me out, or dislike the title and read the post anyway, or politely tell me what you thought of the title/post/title and post, or… you get my point. Nearly endless choices on how to react. An old man in a movie once said, “Choose wisely.”
It’s this idea of choosing wisely I want to talk about today. I know in last week’s post I said it’d be about the writing community, and it is, but the advice applies to every community we belong to: personal, professional, hobby. And, lately, the writing community has chosen poorly.
If you’re in the community, you’ve at least heard about the whole Puppy thing, the “all writers are assholes” blog, the lack of respect toward female writers in all genres, how each and every award is basically some tainted piece of shit that no one (read: everyone) wants to win. I’m on the fringes of these conversations because, let’s face it, I’m a small fry compared to the people throwing out enough bullshit gas to ignite the universe. It’s not just that, though, because I do hear about them, and I surely could hop on over to this author’s Facebook page or that author’s blog and throw down an opinion, because yes, I am an asshole and I do have an opinion on all these topics. Instead, I choose not to get involved.
This blog post is as close as I come to offering an opinion on anything, and it’s a very neutral opinion at that. In these situations, when someone is shitting on someone else’s hush puppies and the world is on fire, I’m reminded of an exchange between John McClane and Major Grant in Die Hard 2:
McClane: “Guess I was wrong about you. You’re not such an asshole after all.”
Maj. Grant: “Oh, you were right. I’m just your kind of asshole.”
And that, Brownies, sums everything up for me.
We are all assholes.
Whether you believe you’re an asshole or not is irrelevant, someone thinks you are. And invariably, that someone is right. They are, after all, entitled to their opinion.
So why don’t we, as a whole, choose our assholes more wisely? Why do we insist on surrounding ourselves with people we think are assholes and then shout that out on our blogs? This makes no sense to me. The people in my little inner circle are my kind of assholes. I enjoy them, their assholishness, and what their puckered parts bring to my life. That’s why I keep them around.
And make no mistake, I do keep them around. I’m in total control of who I spend my time with. And I know you may be saying something like, “Well, Chris, I don’t really know these assholes, but they’re in this group on Facebook–”
Just stop. You even control who you interact with on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, any writing organizations forum boards… it’s all you. I actively choose not to be involved with many people on a daily basis. Why? Because they’re not my kind of assholes.
Now, sure, there are going to be times when you have to be around these people who aren’t your kind of asshole, you’re going to have to interact with them, and, dare I say, be nice. I go to conventions (lots of them, actually) and I’ve met writers who weren’t my kind of asshole. I wasn’t a dick to them, not in person, and I didn’t come back here and I didn’t blog and tell the world about it. I smiled, shook hands, bought beers, whatever.
There’s a simple reason for that: I like to think I’m a professional. (And for those of you who’ve encountered me drunk at any number of conventions, I apologize. Maybe I’m not your kind of asshole. You know, it happens.) And at some point, I might have to work with this asshole or that asshole, or one of those assholes might be heading a project I want in on. While the writing community is large enough, it’s still a business and reputation counts. It seems that more than a fair share of us have forgotten that our reputation is one of the few things we actually have complete and total control over.
You can’t control an editor or publisher’s opinion, you can’t control whether someone will buy your book or whether they’ll like it, you can’t control whether they’ll leave any sort of review. Shit, let’s face it, most of the time we can’t even control our fictional characters.
But we can control ourselves. We can control how much of our puckered hole we put on display to the community at large. That’s all on us, individually, and I’d like to be the old asshole that reminds us all to “Choose Wisely.” Surround yourself with like-minded assholes, the kind whose farts you can tolerate, laugh about, and yes, maybe you even like sniffing that asshole.
And when you come across the other kind of asshole, you know the one whose farts are so fucking rancid you can’t decide if you should puke now or later? Let them be, go about your business of puking, safe and secure in the knowledge that you only have to smell their shit every once in awhile–you know, when you choose to–but there are others who want to smell it all the time. There’s no need for the entire world to know you don’t like that asshole.
Come back next week and hear me take this conversation along down the road and talk about the rising tide again…
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