Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Under the Looking Glass?

Thought for the day: No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

Ever have one of those great big oopsie moments? You know, where you do something unbelievably stupid and just pray nobody's watching? Or if they are, you hope they have a really crappy memory?

One of my stupid moments was caught under a spotlight. Lucky me, huh?

I was a senior in high school at the time, and was selected by my drama teacher to perform a scene from "Tea and Sympathy" for a big PTSA open house. Now, I was a bit of a nerd, meaning I was all about the academics, and drama was an elective course for me. I enjoyed it, and was okay at it, but Meryl Streep I wasn't. Still, I was pretty excited at the idea of showing my stuff.

Unfortunately, my friend and fellow nerd, who happened to be manning the spotlight, was interested in showing my stuff, too.

In the scene, I was an "older woman" who was about to (ahem) get upclose and personal, shall we say, with a younger man. My closing line was, "Years from now, when you talk about this, and you will, be kind." While delivering the line, I was also unbuttoning my blouse very slowly. That was supposed to be the cue for my smart ass buddy to fade the spotlight to dark.

It would've been quite dramatic.

Was supposed to be dramatic, damn it.

My "buddy" thought it'd be funny to leave the light on. Oh yeah, it was hysterical.

So what did I, the academic nerd, do? I looked straight at the spotlight and snarled, "LIGHTS!"

Kinda spoiled the effect, ya know? (But he DID douse the light.)

OK, you got me. This isn't me, but it's pretty much how I FELT, only with a little more hair ...

Anyhow, what made me think about all this was the incredible train wreck I observed on the internet yesterday. A self-published writer from England committed an enormous oopsie. She had what amounted to an emotional melt-down over a review of her book. The funny thing was, the review wasn't even all that bad. The reviewer said that her story was quite good, actually, but because of the plentiful spelling and grammatical errors, he gave her a two star rating. That should've been the end of it. But it wasn't. Her subsequent postings, which by the way, were chock full of misspellings, grammatical errors, and tortuously convoluted syntax, were laced with profanities. Dropped the f-bomb a couple times. Snarled at anyone and everyone who tried to soothe her anger or offer guidance. Insisted that there was nothing wrong with her writing, although, clearly, there was. All of this, mind you, on a website frequented by other writers, agents, and publishers. More and more people joined the fray, as news of the "happening" spread through Twitter and other websites.

She single-handedly put herself in the spotlight, and then committed professional suicide. It's a shame, really, but I suppose she could always ... change her name.

But the bottom line here is: remember, on the internet, you're more than in a spotlight.

You're under the looking glass. And there's no hope that the people watching you screw up have a crappy memory, either. Once it's on the internet, it STAYS on the internet. (Thank God YouTube wasn't around when I was in high school!)

                                    Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. I saw that train wreck, and almost couldn't finish reading the comment stream because I was cringing so hard. Eek. Tip to that author: when you find yourself in a hole, for God's sake, stop digging. Sheesh.

  2. You got that right. Don't know how old she is, but she came across as quite young, or at least, quite immature. Poor thing. She got her fifteen minutes of fame, but I don't think it's what she had in mind.

  3. I didn't see it but heard about it. Poor little newbie. Well, let's hope she's smart enough to find a pseudonym.

    And I read your last post too. I just refuse to succumb to the Twitter vice. And I know without a doubt, that's exactly what it will be for me.

    Where are you in the deep south. I'm right outside w-s in NC.

  4. Hi, Anne.

    Never ever thought I'd get on twitter ... or blog, for that matter. But so far, I'm enjoying it.

    I'm in GA. Moved here from MD in '71. Still miss the Chesapeake Bay, but love it here. (as long as the air conditioner ain't broke!)

  5. Hi, Susan. I saw your face and comment on my post today. I'm happy to meet you. I know Linda G and Anne, also; both great women and writers.

    I've had similar embarrassing moments such as yours in my long life, but I've never been in that poor woman's shoes. She obviously had no idea what she was doing. A pseudonym would seem appropriate!!!

    My daughter went to Chesapeake Bay for many springs at Camp Bruce McCoy. It's so beautiful there. We love Virginia. Glad you like Georgia. (We need our AC too!!)

  6. Hi, Ann.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Yeah, there have been a lot of embarrassing moments over the years for me too, but luckily, I have an over-developed funny bone.

    I'm not familiar with Camp Bruce McCoy, but if it's on the Chesapeake, it's gotta be terrific!

    Take care.

  7. It was very sad. I had to turn away and not look.

    I started out in the realm of self-publishing and I know a lot of writers still publishing that way -- good ones -- polite ones -- civilized ones.

    Just as in any field, the loud and obnoxious seem to get all the press.

    Even more frightening than the author was the size of the crowd of people who gathered "virtually" to throw stones at her. Yikes. Not only do people seem to enjoy watching a train wreck, they get a kick out of fanning the flames. :(

  8. Hi, Dianne.

    Welcome aboard.

    With so many other commenters adding to the conflagration, I thought it best to keep my hands in my pockets. (But there WERE a number of posters who actually tried to calm things down, too.)

    What's that Aesop moral? Something like, "The empty barrel makes the most noise." Hopefully, her noise won't cause ripples in the pool for the other self-published writers who, as you say, are good, polite, and civilized.