Waiting All This Time for the Ax to Fall

So a lot of people have heard by now of the RWA removing a member of Dear Author’s bloggers from their associates roster over the #romfail tag on Twitter.

I think quite a few authors in the RWA complained about #romfail because, not only was it a negative review tag, but it was also on Twitter—and that aspect, they feel, threatens their livelihood far more than just reviews on a website, even one with as high traffic as Dear Author.

Some people have come onto the Dear Author comment thread with remarks along the lines of, “You totally deserved this.” A lot more people view this as a stupid decision, an overreaction, even if RWA is entitled to execute such an action.

It’s not about whether RWA can do such a thing. It’s about whether such a reaction is so over-the-top about such a menial thing that it calls into question the reasoning skills of those who made the decision.

In my opinion, the RWA’s decision is entirely over the top. But I’m not surprised, and I think the board had to do it, even if they themselves would disagree.

The thing is, any group has vocal members who will take grievances as far as possible over incidents that threaten their ego, whether or not it would impact their business. If there are a lot of complaints, then majority rule has to take over, because the majority of the body believes it to be a grievance that needs to be remedied in such and such a manner.

A lot of people are saying that RWA is headed by idiots, and at least SFWA wouldn’t do that.

Don’t count on it. In a similar situation, they might have to.

For the past several months I’ve been waiting for the ax to fall from SFWA. I’m not a member of SFWA—I just write for Tor.com. I was critical of an SFWA member outside of a review, the result of which was enough to require a legal opinion. And the result of which caused me a lot of mental grief, because my PTSD likes to make fucking weird associations, and I had formerly admired to some degree this member.

It wasn’t big, it didn’t last long, but SFWA would probably have to come down on me with a statement if somehow enough complaints are ever registered. Despite the general awesomeness of the SFWA board, they would have to do it. They can never assure me that they wouldn’t do it. And unlike Jane, I might get fired if they did so.

This is an unlikely scenario. But it was enough to make me feel discouraged about writing for Tor.com. In a way, I’m writing my current PTSD in Fiction series on Tor.com because it’s a way to help me get over that mental block. And you know, I can’t help reviewing a Terry Pratchett book.

I guess what I’m saying is: it’s not fair, but sometimes things happen because of the way everyone is joined up together.

And in the end, one has to decide how much such things matter to one with respect to deciding how they’ll write in the future. For Jane at Dear Author, I know her answer: it won’t affect her at all. And that is awesome.

For me, I don’t know. I will keep writing for Tor.com, though perhaps I’ll never again be critical again outside of my reviews (which almost everyone seems to agree upon as fair ground, with the exception of Twitter reviews with a fail tag, apparently, in the case of some portion of RWA’s membership).

Or maybe I will be critical again. My brain hasn’t yet decided on whether it’ll keep bringing the random fuckery every time I think of doing so.

I don’t even know. And the cold medication is not helping.

5 thoughts on “Waiting All This Time for the Ax to Fall

  1. Wow. I hope that you never have to face that. It seems to me that organizations that celebrate creative freedom would support you in your endeavors. As a paid writer for Tor.com, you are and should be considered a member of the fraternity of writers.

  2. If SFWA starts making statements about _non-members_ who are merely critical of its members then it will lose all the ground it has gained post-Andrew Burt etc. Because it certainly has better things to do.

    Also I can name half a dozen people or more who must have been at least as critical as you if not more so. Starting with me. Some of whom _are_ SFWA members (though not me).

    Based on what you say, and my general lack of knowledge that SFWA has gotten involved in such shenanigans before, I think that this is not a rational worry of yours.

    (With the caveat that I don’t know whose legal opinion was involved and why, but since I can’t picture you going around libeling people, I can’t imagine that it wasn’t gross and obvious overreaction.)

  3. Hello Jane,

    It probably won’t happen, but the possibility, as remote as it is, has been driving me crazy for several months now.

    Hello Kate,

    It isn’t a rational worry of mine, it’s probably very irrational, but the response from the individual was so… intense, threatening to consult the SFWA grievance committee, saying he had them on the phone, etc. I wasn’t the only target, I just happened to be one with an email readily available.

    I cried on and off for something like a week. A big, gutless coward am I. :(

  4. Dude, you aren’t a coward, I would be scared too under those circumstances! Bullies are scary, as well as infuriating and detestable and all the rest.

    I give it . . . 33% odds that if you tell me the name I will recognize it as someone known to be an asshole. And that’s only that low because my gossip connections with the field are relatively thin.

    If that would help your backbrain be convinced that it should worry about something else, that is.

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