Last night, I had my most improbable and often recurring stress dream. It is also my least favorite, and it goes something like this: Unbeknownst to me, I have been secretly married to Gerard Butler for some time. Then he dies. I have to go to the funeral and bring home his ashes (much of this dream is modeled on P.S. I Love You, as you can plainly see). Because I have no memory off our marriage or the courtship that preceded it, I know nothing about dead Gerard Butler and I have to play it off to his grieving family and friends like I totally knew him, while my teeth fall out for no explained reason. Not just one or two teeth, either. More teeth than a healthy human mouth is expected to hold. When I get home, my real husband is furious with me. Not because I had a secret double life, but because it is clear to him that I did not love Gerard Butler enough.
I hesitate to post about the GoodReads furor a second time, but overnight my email inbox exploded and there are some things I felt I should address before further speculation drags them out into further absurdity, or I have more stress dreams (which inevitably become recurring Bill Murry sex dreams that put me off Ghostbusters for months).
- I did not post reviews of 50 Shades to my GoodReads account. I posted a blog here, and it is somehow linked to my GoodReads author account. No one has attacked me for using GoodReads.com as a reviewing tool. If I could keep my blogs from posting there, I would, because GoodReads always fucks up Blogger’s formatting. But I don’t use GoodReads regularly enough to know how to work it. See also: my experience with Facebook.
- I did not post recaps of 50 Shades out of professional jealousy or to “destroy” E.L. James. This was a theme in several of the emails and messages I’ve received, sometimes with the admonition to worry about my own writing and not the writing of others, and then maybe I would be just as successful. This allegation confuses me on two levels. The first being, how on earth someone would get the impression that I don’t know this business. My first book came out in 2006. I made my first sale in 2004. I started writing for publication almost ten years ago. I’ve worked (briefly) as an editor. I fancy myself somewhat knowledgeable about the writing “biz”, so I don’t understand how someone would get the impression that I’m dumb enough to think, “Muahahaha, I can reverse the popularity of a book millions of people are buying by bitching about it on my blog, which gets twenty hits on a good day! Muahahaha!” Think of all the really controversial blockbuster best sellers there have been this century so far. Millions of people bitched about James Frey, and he still sells like peanuts at an all-elephant pro-am soccer game. Millions of people have bitched about Twilight, but it’s not going anywhere. So, why would I think that I could sabotage E.L. James using the same tactic? Why would I want to sabotage another author in the first place? Making someone else fail wouldn’t make me succeed. I just find the book unintentionally hilarious and felt like that might connect with other people out there in Internetville. Clearly, I was right, or else we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
The second part of this allegation that confuses me is the idea that I don’t need to be worrying about other people’s writing, just my own. What a shitty piece of writing advice that is. Writers who don’t read are bad writers, pure and simple. Not reading 50 Shades would have been professionally irresponsible of me. It’s a book in a genre I write for, and it’s garnered huge success and publicity. Why wouldn’t I read it? Granted, reviewing it publicly is another faintly-peanut scented soccer ball altogether, but I’ll cover that in the next point,
- I do not cease to be a reader because I am a writer. I don’t really need to elaborate on this one, because the previous item just about covers it. History speaks for me, courtesy of GoodReads.com user Calisto: 50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time Please note that nothing I’ve said in any of my recaps comes close to expressing the desire to exhume the corpse of an author and abuse it. I have blogged about the similarities between Mark Twain and myself during a past “author feud” that was hardly a feud at all. If you care to read that post, it’s right here. But what I fail to address in that post is the fact that I’m a woman, and I’m being held to a much different standard than a male author would be. No one would ever tell a male writer that he wasn’t entitled to read and negatively review a book by a male counterpart, and yet here we are.
- I am not a “nobody” or “wannabe” trying to make a name for myself. I hate, with the passion of an elephant who really hates soccer, blowing my own horn, so to speak. I rarely mention my own books on my twitter or even on this blog. When I put my covers in the sidebars there? I felt cheap for days. But right now, I’m going to blow my own horn, just a little. I’m not a “nobody”. I’ve been writing for years. I even made the USA Today Bestseller list once, which is going to look awesome in my obituary some day. I have readers that I love, because they all seem to be a little bit weird, like I am. I feel like I’ve made a name for myself, and even if that name is not on par with Nora Roberts or J.R. Ward, I feel like I’m entitled to say that I’m not a nobody. I’m just not a somebody.
- I did not “copy” my name from Jennifer L. Armentrout in a bid to steal her readers or mess with her career. This one has come up not only last night, but quite often in the past year or so, and I’ve never addressed it. It just didn’t seem like it was worth my time, because both Jennifer L. Armentrout and myself knew the truth and that seemed like all that was important. But now I kind of have to address it, as it’s picking up speed and was a theme in seven hateful emails I received overnight. No, I did not “pick” nor “steal” my name as part of a calculated decision to sabotage Jennifer L. Armentrout. My mother picked my name for me when she filed my birth certificate in July of 1980. I sold my first book with this name, and it came out in 2006. I have been Jennifer Lynne Armintrout since the day I was born, and I’ll be Jennifer Lynne Armintrout until the day that I die, much to my husband’s old-timey dismay. I endured the “Arm & Hammer” jokes all through elementary school, the classic, “Did your dad get his ARM stuck in a TROUT?” taunt (which I’ve never really understood… isn’t it catfish that people catch that way?), and the well-meaning, but racially and culturally insensitive, “Is that a Native American name?” I’m sticking with it, but not out of spite or the desire to harm another writer. I don’t know if Jennifer L. Armentrout is receiving these kinds of accusations, as well, but they are super unfair. Having similar names does not mean that one of us is gunning for the other, and as I have established above, I’m doing pretty okay on my own. I don’t need to “steal” anyone’s success or readers. Plus, if I were going to do something like that, I would have gone with “Dora Roberts”*. Go big or go home, I always say.
- I do not now, nor will I ever, delete comments in GoodReads.com discussions. I don’t want to censor anybody. I am not an Etsy forum admin, I’m not going to “wrap this up” because it’s not as nice as a vintage barn wood doorstop. If your comment disappeared, tell it to GoodReads.