Apr 23 2008
We’ve had a bit of a firestorm here at Dear Author and many new readers (hello new visitors). I thought it might be worthwhile to do a bit of post mortem on the recent brou ha ha.
For new visitors, let me give you a bit of a history. I started Dear Author in April of 2006 with my friend, Jayne. Initially it was the two of us sharing our reviews of books with the open internet world as opposed to the private email list we had belonged to for several years prior (6 maybe?). The Two Ja(y)nes seemed pretty clever to me. I foolishly got caught up in the “Jane-ness” and now everyone who blogs with us has a Jan-like psuedonym. What seemed clever two years ago is a bit silly now, but it’s like an inescapable brand. I should have been more prescient.
I give that background because Dear Author is composed of six different individuals, three who contribute regular reviews: myself, Jayne and Jia. Three others who provide semi-regular reviews: Janine, Janet (aka Robin), and Jan. We are adding another thoughtful voice, Jennie, who will contribute the occasional review as well. Robin and I also chat about various opinion topics because Robin blogs regularly for two other romance oriented blogs and I find her a valuable sounding board. We seven individuals rarely agree on one thing from books (look at the Meredith Duran book, for example), to opinions on tropes, to the color of the sky on any given day. It is the individuality of our opinions that makes this blog so vibrant because I see the same thing in the commenters here.
It is a rare event when we, bloggers and commenters, are of one voice. One of the things for which I am most proud of the community that we have here is the fierceness and quality of our debates. We are passionate in our opinions yet I find that we respect each other in spite of, or perhaps because of, the wide range of positions. I’ve often found you learn the most from people with whom you disagree.
But the Dear Author blog is not represented by one statement of its commenters or even one statement of its bloggers. Even though the names of the individual bloggers all stem from the same root, we flower and express ourselves much differently.
I remember when Nora Roberts first came and started posting. It was common for readers to refer to authors as one big borg acting in concert with each other. She reminded us that authors were like readers, each having individual opinions. I’ve made an effort since then to not label all authors with one same brush. And I’ve definitely observed, over the past two years of running Dear Author, that the positions of authors vary wildly, confirming Roberts’ claim that they are not the borg. (I think we readers doubted this when she first posited the opinion).
Similarly readers and bloggers do not operate with one hive mind, as evidenced in the thread that discussed Gerritsen’s post about the Deborah Anne MacGillivray’s actions of harassment toward a reader. There were plenty of individuals who said her statements didn’t bother them and conversely there were other individuals who were bothered. There were strong opinions expressed on both sides of the aisle.
We don’t like to censor comments nor do we endorse the comments of any poster. We do reserve the right to moderate comments but most of the time will not, believing, as Justice Brandeis did, that the greater good is in “more speech, not enforced silence.”
In essence, ascribe my comments to me and I’ll ascribe your comments to you. We’ll be adults and take responsibilities for our own words and actions and this community of romance readers and authors will be stronger for it.