As writers, we know free speech is one of our most important rights. But that also means we should be more aware of the power of our words, and not use them in haste.
I'm going to out myself as the writer mentioned in this amazing blog post by Janice Hardy, author of The Shifter, although I wasn't the only one who mourned its temporary disappearence. I think it's an important wake-up call to all the aspiring writers out there -- and readers, and bloggers, and pretty much anyone who uses the internet (so yeah, you!).
In this technologically candid age, where a big portion of our social lives plays out on our screens, it's sometimes easy to forget we're in public. We might feel safe in our forum threads, surrounded by pals, but anyone can drop by our rooms. Our jokes and dialogues -- public. Our rants -- public. And while that avatar might make us feel anonymous, we're usually not.
That WIP title in your signature? Googleable. Your book on sub? Googleable. The link to your blog? Googleable.
And agents do Google. So do editors.
And so do authors. The farther along you get on that publishing career, the more you'll realize authors aren't suspended in a separate universe, unmindful of us little ones below. They're people sitting in front of computers, just like us. And when you author-bash and book-bash (beyond thoughtful book reviews; I'm talking mean-spirited, bitter-edged commentary) sometimes, they find out.
Or their agents do. Or their friends do. Or someone who really, really likes the book or author does -- someone you've just deeply insulted.
I kind of doubt this, but -- maybe you don't care who finds your rant. Your words were impulsive, but you were only being honest! Well, there's another reason you should care. Those authors you bash might one day be your colleagues. And careerwise, I can't think of much more humiliating than meeting the subject of that bashing session -- an author who remembers your name.