Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sorry to everyone / I deleted my blog for a day and a half

Yessir I did. Good thing Blogger has a built-in rescue feature!

I did this because something happened that made me mad and sad and most of all embarassed, and I thought I would never want to be a writer with any kind of public existence ever again. It relates directly to an anxiety I've had over and over again, and although I've never really wanted my blog to be an emotional place--not that there's anything wrong with that--this is something I think I have to write out to make better (for me, at least).

I have said some stupid things on this blog. I have directly criticized editors and publishers, other writers, and all manner of good people. I've tried to make this okay by pointing out that I never bother to criticize things I plain don't like: my criticism is always a prying-open of the things I already like, poking about in their dirtier bits and complaining about how much nicer they might be. This has actually resulted in some really interesting revelations: when I complained about Asimov's form letters, I got a response from Sheila Williams describing their submissions process; and when I wondered aloud about the sale of Lightspeed to John Joseph Adams, Sean Wallace stopped by to explain the finer points of the publishing industry. Those were really cool days. But with time I've come to realize that, though this may be productive for me, there's no way I can pretend it's a friendly practice--love the subjects I criticize though I may. And quite honestly, I just want people--namely those people who are most like me, writers and editors--to like me.

The specific instance that made me delete my blog for all of thirty-six hours happened more recently. I recently joined an online writers forum, and--wanting to vent a little bit--I decided to share a little anecdote relating to a rejection letter I once received. Lo and behold, the editor from whom I had received the rejection is a member of the forum. The editor responded to my post in a really friendly and understanding way, and I came away with a new appreciation for certain facts--just like I always have. But I felt embarassed. I felt like a jerk and a fool, and I felt terrible. I felt, in sum, like I could never back away from the things I've said and done, that I could never make myself known in the way I'd like to be, and that even trying to connect with anyone in the future would be, a priori, useless. So I deleted my blog.

Criticism is my way of asking more of the things I like; it's one of the ways I grow. But does it help other people grow? Today, I got a rejection letter from an editor that basically said that all my writing is shallow. I realized that I couldn't feel more different: for me, my writing is terribly deep. I was offended, and I immediately realized: what right do I have to tear open other people's work, when we're all just working towards the same thing?

I decided to re-instate my blog because this is too much of who I am now to simply let go. I love writing, and I love other writers. I even love editors. To remove myself entirely, even from this little space, is short-sighted. I'll learn from my mistakes and hope others can forgive me. I'll even let them rip me apart a few times to square the balance. Most of all, I'll remember that rejection letter, and I'll remember not to write rejection letters to people who should be my friends. (On the Internet, at least!)

So let me take this chance to say sorry to anyone in this scene I've ever offended. You probably don't even read my blog, but that's okay. I'm a much nicer person in real life. (One day I'll actually start going to cons, and you'll see.) Hopefully, this blog--and my online persona in general--will start to reveal that sooner than later.



  1. Hey, Ben...don't worry so much. I can tell you right here and now that everything you've written on this blog is really pretty inoffensive. Also, I say silly things on said writer's forum all the time, and it feels bad in the short run, but in the long run it doesn't really matter.

  2. Thanks, Rahul! I appreciate the support.

    By the way, I'm working on a post called "Rahul Kanakia is a literary travesty..." :P

  3. You should write a series called "Mean Posts". Let it out, man. Let it out.

  4. In fact, we should write a movie script called "Mean Writers." The ones with all the nice laptops, legitimate copies of Microsoft Word, and moleskine notebooks make fun of the ones clomping away on a shitty desktop with OpenOffice and scribbling in an Oxford...

  5. The Mean Writers use moleskine notebooks, and the Prol Writers use typewriters. It's more evocative.