Cruel and, unfortunately, not unusual
I had a blast at World Fantasy Con last weekend, and then spent yesterday having a similarly great time at SFContario. But… it ended on a sour note. The final panel I attended was “SFContario Idol.” I absolutely hate any sort of “cold read” critique sessions and refuse to sit through them, but the panel description made this one sound different, more constructive. So I went.
But it was not constructive at all. The panel was given New Year’s noisemakers to blow when they didn’t like something. They used them a lot. The readings were anonymous, so the panel gradually grew more and more mocking, complete with jokes at the writer’s expense and exaggerated eye rolls and other “Oh, spare me” body language.
They expressed their own opinions as if they were Laws of Writing. Of course opinions were what they were giving, but I don’t think one can ever forego “IMHO” under these circumstances.
I had hopes that one person on the panel would be more positive, but he quickly fell into line with his peers.
The only person who maintained a respectful and positive note was the reader. And she prefaced each comment with, “I’m commenting from a reader’s perspective, not a writer or publisher.” At this point, I’ve got an agent and a publisher, it’s the readers’ opinions I’m interested in.
I was insulted by their treatment of my piece, and my heart bled for the two newbie writers sitting next to me.
Yes, rejection is part of writing. Yes, one needs a thick skin to pursue a career as a writer. But to me, fandom is a safe space, and being mocked by my peers? Wasn’t cool.
But the rest of the two cons? Awesome.
(Crossposted to my Storm Grant blog.)