This story actually happened to my sister but it is too funny not to share. Plus, as with most things my Dad says, it is actually pretty darn wise.
So a couple of years ago, my sister was on a NY subway train with my parents. My Dad had been having health problems and was using a cane. The train was semi-crowded and my Mom, spotting a seat across the way, made a mad dash for it, hoping to get it for my Dad. On the way, she pushed into another woman who was also making for the seat. The other woman, who was much younger and larger than either of my parents, began to scream and berate my Mother.
Now this is the unusual part. Unlike me, my sister is actually a very sweet, even-keeled, nice person who never makes scenes. However, on this particular day, my sweet little sister, who is barely 5 ft tall, lost her mind. She went nuclear on this much larger woman in a spectacular showdown that ended with my Mom proudly shouting "I love NY" to a loudly cheering train car.
However, my Dad was not amused. When they got off their train and started walking home, my Dad pulled my sister over to the sidewalk where a large, fresh, steaming pile of dog shit was left by a clearly caring and thoughtful dog owner.
My Dad grabbed my sister by the arm and pointed at the dog shit and said, "Now go ahead and yell at that as much as you want."
My sister looked at him, warily. "Why?"
My Dad said, "Why not? It's the same thing as what you did on the train."
I seriously love my Dad. I love how he crams wisdom in with humor. The reason I find this story so funny and so apropos lately is because there has been so much nastiness on the internet lately about authors behaving badly over negative reviews, reviewers up in arms, authors disrespecting their readers, and readers blacklisting authors. And all of this just reminds me of my Dad pointing at that pile of dog shit and commanding my sister to yell at it. Because let's face it, when you start making a big stink on the internet, who's left with the turd pile?
My Dad's point is not that the woman my sister was yelling at was a pile of shit, although that would be a funny analogy also, but that by yelling, all my sister did was waste her time and look ridiculous. That's why it reminds me of authors who publicly get bent out of shape about bad reviews. All they do is look ridiculous and inevitably, they get shit on their face.
The thing is, bad reviews are not necessarily bad. They might hurt your feelings, but they won't kill you. And hell, they probably won't even hurt your sales. Take a look at Twilight. Is there any other book that has suffered the indignities of so many bad reviews, parodies, jokes, etc. and yet still manage to make its author one of the richest women in publishing? And some of the attacks are personal! It isn't just, "I hate her book" - it's "I hate her book and she can't write!" Technically, them's fightin' words. But I guess when you have as much money as Stephanie Meyers, it's a lot easier to block out the nasty stuff.
Now I hope I don't get the personal attacks, cause then you just may see me at the zoo screaming at a huge pile of elephant dung. But I know I'll get bad reviews. I got them before I ever got published so why should getting published change that? I know not everyone will like my book. And that's ok. I sure as hell don't love every book I read either. But you know what? A bad review never stopped me from reading a book, but bad behavior by an author has.
Because when an author acts badly, all I'll see from now on is my Dad pointing at that steaming pile of dogshit, and I will laugh and laugh... and not buy their book.