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It's funny how some people judge you by what you write. When people discover that I write about dark subjects, including killers and monsters, they think I must be a little warped, which is certainly not true (at least I don't think so). Funniest occasion was when a friend of my better half read my novel The Kult. She loved it, but then mentioned to someone (who told my other half) that she was concerned for her living with me, because to write such stuff, I must be dangerous. My partner and I chuckled at that one (at least she did when I let her out of the cellar).

Anyone else have this problem?
 

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Almost always.

I once submitted a story anonymously to a board I was on. In discussing writing in general, someone referred to my story as the work of someone with some issues, that he was glad he didn't have the thoughts the author had. I know this person liked me, and I know if my name had been on it he might have had a different impression. I always wondered his exact reaction when he later discovered I'd written it.

::shrug::

I'm a good person. I know it and my friends and loved ones know it. I'm not violent and am clearly on the tree-hugger side of things. I've struggled all my life with being outraged when things aren't fair. Even with my reviewing and all my arguments on the need for honesty, I hate the idea of potentially hurting someone's feelings. I risk it because I feel a need to help readers and probably over-identify with them. I once bought a teddy bear that was returned to the store where I worked, because I didn't want her to feel unwanted. Okay, perhaps I should have kept that last one to myself. I sometimes have trouble reading or watching scenes in which someone is going to be embarrassed. I probably have too much empathy for my own good.

Who I am and how dark some of my writing is has taught me that what someone writes is not who they are. A person is not their meanest thought, or scariest mental preoccupation. A person is the way they live their life, the choices they make, the people they love. The only difference between a horror writer and a romance novelist is what areas of their psyche they choose to call upon, what area interests them the most.

I think of Stephen King. When I was a kid the common thing people would say is that they'd hate to meet him on a dark and stormy night. Then I think of how this guy is still married to his college sweetheart, has well-adjusted kids, and gives to charity. He struggled with issues with alcohol and drugs, but his son -- Joe Hill -- would come home to the sounds of both his parents writing. King has spoken of how big of a deal story-time was in their house. The stuff he writes is scary, he is not. He writes, perhaps more so in the past, about the fears we all have. When his kids were young, he wrote about children dying, because that was his worst fear -- this is abnormal, how? For a while he wrote about crazed fans, and I think he really once had a stalker break in. Sometimes now he writes about old age and the aches, pains, and night terrors of that. And it all seems pretty sane to me.

There are people out there who really do seem, for lack of a better phrase, to get off on writing cruelty, but I'd be reluctant to point fingers on that one without knowing that person.
 

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Of course you are judged on what you write, rightly or wrongly, but since this is the only thing readers will know about you, that is how they'll perceive you.

I suppose you'll have to be at peace with being seen as such a person. I'm sure that if you like horror a lot, you don't mind people picturing you as a goth even if you're not.

I had a great shock finding out that Kim Stanley Robinson (a great SF writer for those who don't know) has a degree in English and isn't a scientist.

I worked in science but never anywhere near astronomy. I'm happy for people to think this about me, though.

*cue in reason why I don't write erotica*
 

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Patty Jansen said:
I suppose you'll have to be at peace with being seen as such a person. I'm sure that if you like horror a lot, you don't mind people picturing you as a goth even if you're not.
I don't think the issue is being seen as a goth so much as a sociopath.
 

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MichelleR said:
A person is the way they live their life, the choices they make, the people they love.
Omg, this. I often think of George Orwell's explanation of why he became a writer - he had a facility for language, and a "willingness to face unpleasant truths", and so basically he had no choice. Writers explore, and I think to be really good at it you have to do so with empathy and humanity. Doesn't mean you HAVE to choose to be a good person, but maybe it helps?

I think the judgment you're talking about, particularly as Michelle references it w respect to horror etc., is often a way for people to deal with disturbing things that disturbed partially because they recognized something in it.

And again, as Michelle references, I think there some things that seem to be written or created with nothing but titillation or exploitation in mind, and yeah, that stuff might be scary. Deciding where the line is is tough. I guess the difficulty is in staying fair: ever vigilant, etc.

But yeah. It's always gonna happen. Nothing that can be done but to write some more, and stay brave, I guess.

(and now I have to get back to work...I get up at 4 am to work, and somehow get sucked into the Internet.)
 

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Shaun Jeffrey said:
It's funny how some people judge you by what you write. When people discover that I write about dark subjects, including killers and monsters, they think I must be a little warped, which is certainly not true (at least I don't think so). Funniest occasion was when a friend of my better half read my novel The Kult. She loved it, but then mentioned to someone (who told my other half) that she was concerned for her living with me, because to write such stuff, I must be dangerous. My partner and I chuckled at that one (at least she did when I let her out of the cellar).

Anyone else have this problem?
:)

I've had a few raised eyebrows myself. I find it funny when people who've read my book express surprise at how many swear words I use, yet take the fact that I've invented five grizzly murders at face value! :)
 

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Shaun Jeffrey said:
It's funny how some people judge you by what you write. When people discover that I write about dark subjects, including killers and monsters, they think I must be a little warped, which is certainly not true (at least I don't think so). Funniest occasion was when a friend of my better half read my novel The Kult. She loved it, but then mentioned to someone (who told my other half) that she was concerned for her living with me, because to write such stuff, I must be dangerous. My partner and I chuckled at that one (at least she did when I let her out of the cellar).

Anyone else have this problem?
Haha, yes. Some people who read my books assume I'm uneducated, when in reality, my IQ is 'genius' level (though I'm an underachiever), and I read a varied 'diet'. When I say people, it's limited to other writers, funnily enough. General public, I don't know what they think, tbh. I hope they think I have a fun and big imagination, and ability to entertain :)
 

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haha, I understand that.  Two days ago my wife told the landlady about my upcoming novel and the landlady whispered to her... "And you lived with him while he wrote that? Oh my."

Lovely.  I told my wife if we get kicked out, she's in charge of finding a new place to live!  hahaha :)


-jb 8)
 

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I dated this woman who thought I must be "dark and violent" because of what I write.

I mean, I don't mind the silly presumption made over my personality because of fiction when it only costs me books sales, but when it costs me SEX...that's tragic.
 

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Me and a few writers who know each other from a magazine we had stories in are looking to produce a book of 'stories you'd hate your family to read'.  My usual stuff is rip-roaring adventure, but I've been known to write more serious stuff. The story I've started on, I've struggled to finish the first couple of sentences, as I keep toning it down, then admonishing myself for doing so, as it defeats the objet.
 
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My standard reply whenever I get a strange look or comment is, "Don't worry.  I only kill people on paper.  Too much effort to hide the bodies in the real world."

You cannot control the thoughts of other people.  You can only control your reaction to them.  I, for example, prefer to use their prejudices and fear against them in order to bow them to my will.  ;D

People make flash judgements all the time.  It has nothing to do with what you write per se.  It has to do with the human need to compartamentalize data.  Unless you make a deliberate effort to stop yourself, you will immediately make assumptions just looking at the way a person is dressed, the color of their skin, the way they wear their hair...a thousand visual clues that may or may not actually mean anything.  What you write is merely another bit of data that needs to be sorted.  Unfortunately, most people have outdated sorting equipment and file everything wrong.
 

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When my first book came out, China Rose, I naturally handed out copies to the immediate family and some close relatives.  One of my aunts called me a week or so later and apologized profusely because she hadn't read it yet.  She said every time she started it and got a few pages in, she kept seeing me as a little girl with the buster brown haircut running around the house playing with dolls.  The second book was worse because it was written back when Rosemary Rogers was the be-all and end-all and if a romance novel didn't have rape and bodice ripping in it somewhere, it just didn't cut it.  My mother ORDERED me to stop writing, and ORDERED me not to give any more books to any of my relatives and maybe they would forget what I did for a living.  Oh, and right up until I showed her a contract for six figures, she kept urging me to call up my cousin the dentist and see if I could get a *real* job as his receptionist.  LOL
 

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People who don't write, don't understand the therapy it provides. Just say what I always say: "It's the quiet ones you got to watchout for."  ;)
 

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I haven't had any comments about my novels, but my short fiction usually raises eyebrows.    In one contest I had entered two different categories, and BOTH judges told me they thought I was "working through issues."  Strangely enough, those weren't my issues.  There wasn't a stitch of truth in the stories to begin with....
 

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When it comes to horror, it's not that the writer is twisted in their mind, but more often, they write about what scares the hell out of them. The ability to effectively put a voice to that fear on the page makes for compelling story telling.
 

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Most of my shorts seem to, at some point, feature a man who has problems with alcohol and relationships.

My better half is always complaining about it. Usually in the morning when I am hungover.
 

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If people judge me by my first book - whenever that comes out - then maybe I'll get less hassles from people, for fear I'll gun them down in the street.
 

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scottnicholson said:
I dated this woman who thought I must be "dark and violent" because of what I write.

I mean, I don't mind the silly presumption made over my personality because of fiction when it only costs me books sales, but when it costs me SEX...that's tragic.
Hysterical
 
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