The word community is thrown around a lot, but just what does it mean? The basic definition can be anything from "a group of people living in a particular local area" or "a group of nations having common interests" to simply "common ownership." But what of a writing community? Obviously it's a broad way of saying a large group of writers. But what does it mean?
Sunday's post ruffled a few feathers, as was to be expected. What wasn't expected -- at least by me -- was the sudden outcry from Cynthia Reeser's friends saying just how lovely and caring and warm she is. I even received a few private e-mails basically saying the same thing. And my reply to each was: What does that have to do with anything?
If you read my post, you can see I did not once attack Cynthia Reeser personally. I simply attacked her business model of the insanely high reading fees and advised writers to stay far away. So the fact that she's such a nice person and blah blah blah has nothing to do with anything. The nicest people in the world sometimes make mistakes; does this mean those mistakes should be automatically forgiven because those people are nice?
I wasn't privy to much of the chatter on the Internet these past two days concerning this most recent development, but I did hear about how a few people were going on and on about how this was a community, and how as a community we all need to stick together and defend our friends and blah blah blah.
And, well, that's nice and all, but again: What does that have to do with anything?
Take Cynthia Reeser out of the equation for the moment and insert any Joe Schmo. He has a lot of friends in this community; he makes a not-so-wise business decision; someone calls him out on that business decision, and then suddenly everyone wants to defend Mr. Joe Schmo because he's a nice guy.
I appreciate that there are people out there who want to stick up for Cynthia -- a few of my friends came to my defense, too -- but if this is a true writing community, then don't we ultimately want the best for the community? I know I couldn't have been the only one to see those guidelines; I'm sure a few, if not many, of Cynthia's friends saw them too. And don't you think that those friends would be big enough to say something to her? I mean, come on, those reading fees were a ticking time bomb, just waiting for me to come along and set it off.
My point here is this: as a writing community, we want what's best for the community, and while we do want to encourage and support our friends, we should also be willing to call our friends out on a potential problem, diffusing the bomb before it goes off.