Tuesday, July 16, 2013

stupid people should never read books

That is a title of one of the chapters in Grasshopper Jungle.

My copy editor, Anne, reminded me of this a few times yesterday.

That particular chapter has to do with book-banning in school, and one of my favorite YA authors, Robert Cormier.


I need to vent.

I have received hate mail for every book I've written.  Yes, that is true. Hate mail. Every book. Yesterday, I received my first piece of hate mail for Winger.

It made me think about a lot of things.

First off, the kind of person who writes hate mail to an author in the first place. They have to invest some time and energy finding how to track the author down so they can put themselves directly into your face. I imagine it's someone who watches a lot of daytime television and spends many days in the principal's office at their kids' school complaining about the bullies who pick on their children.

And sending hate mail to an author is classic bullying, because there's nothing you can do about it. You can't turn it off, and if you respond you will LOSE. So you have to take it, and try to ignore it, which is impossible for most writers because as a group we tend to personalize things. It's much different than a bad review on a blog or a poor rating on one of those book rating sites because the writer doesn't have to look at those things (and for the most part, I never do).

But when it's personally addressed to you, by email or on paper (both of which I have received--and at least in the case of the latter the hate-spewer was supporting the US Postal Service) it gets right into your face. And it feels especially caustic.

Look: I didn't send my book into your hovel to offend your sensibilities. You went out and got it.

What kind of sociopath needs to do these kinds of things? It's like walking through a crowd and screaming at the people you think are particularly ugly.

So, hate-mail-sender, I have two things to say to you. Well, three, if I corrected your abysmally lame grammar, but I won't go there:

1. Since you were obviously raised without manners: Shut. The. Fuck. Up. No, really. Shut the fuck up.

2. You undoubtedly care more about my book than I care about you. That's significant, but see number one above.

So I got some nice suggestions from friends about how to handle the ruination of my day.

Catherine Ryan Hyde, who is always so nice and positive, sent me a link to a site that shows images of angrigami -- folded-up negative messages transformed into something beautiful.

Okay, so I took the icky letter and went to You Tube, where I attempted to fold the thing into an origami crane.

Origami is fucking hard.

I suck at origami so bad I wanted to write myself a hate letter about my stupid crane.

I gave up.

The author Emily Franklin said that when she gets negative mail, she gives two extra compliments to people that day. That sounded like a winner. So yesterday, I did a couple surprise nice things for some people in various undisclosed locations, and I gave some compliments to people whom I probably should have complimented much sooner than yesterday.

That worked out. It was a good day. I will abandon the origami in the future, but this is something I think I can manage.