IN THE FIRING LINE

For years I’ve been a victim of scribbling mania. It’s a disease that can start in early childhood and stays with you until you are no longer compos mentis and unable to hold a pen or identify the letters on a keyboard.

I am one of the lucky ones who managed to support a family by utilizing this malady and would jump out of bed crying “Yeah, it’s Monday!” On the other hand, public holidays would throw me into a deep depression as I couldn’t get more work done or filming venues were closed.

few of the videos I made

Yes, I’ve been a lifelong sufferer.

It was not all plain sailing. Often clients would say “This is brilliant … but …” and I knew that the criticism was coming. It was all a learning curve and hopefully, as the years went by, I improved, the negatives declined and I learned to understand that all people don’t like all literature, films, plays and even the adverts I composed and produced.

When I retired, I stupidly thought I was over this disease, but the symptoms got worse. My fingers would wander towards the keyboard, the ideas whirl round and round in my head screaming to be let out, I got jumpy if I couldn’t plant words on the screen.

I tried to cure the agony by writing a monthly column in a local magazine but it wasn’t enough to get my fix. I turned to writing novels and memoirs and 12 books later, the symptoms have not abated in the slightest, even though I am wearing myself to a frazzle.

Not everyone raved about my talent, or lack of it, but I’d been blooded in the media and do not take a one-star review to heart. I even do my best to cheer up other authors who are devastated by criticism. “Put your head above the parapet as a professional and expect to be shot down by someone, somewhere who does not connect with your literary work. It’s nothing personal.”

But, it seems today, it is.

woman typing writing programming

A few weeks ago, my monthly column raised a storm. It was a satirical piece with politics at the centre. Now, I’ve been writing on this subject 12 times a year for almost 10 years, but this one struck the wrong chord with a few readers.

They tracked me down on Facebook and wrote the most horrendous things that were personal, cruel comments, suggestions as to what I should do, or what should happen to me for having the temerity to put such words on paper. At the least I should be fired.

They wrote to the editor – who refused to let me see the emails as they were just too hurtful – and threatened to close the publication down by lobbying the advertisers who pay for the magazine. (I don’t get paid, I do it to help alleviate my addiction).

standing man wearing gray hoodie in front of magazine in rack
Photo by Bagus Pangestu on Pexels.com

None of these readers saw the humour or the satire in the piece which was so over the top it bore no relation to the truth.

I can take criticism, I really can, but was shook me was the level of intense hatred, vitriolic comments, the depth of fury and aggression.

What has happened to ‘Live and let Live?’ What caused these people to express their feelings in such a vicious way? They even threatened to report it to the police as a hate crime.

adult alone boy building

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The very least they demanded was a grovelling apology from both me and the editor.

In the next issue I wrote that I was sorry my article had upset anyone, it was never intended to do so, and mentioned some world issues such as FGM, poverty, climate change, pollution and dictatorships that are real world problems.

I was all for giving up the column but both DH and the editor begged me not to. That way the vindictive people would win, although if they had had their way, I would no longer be able to write anything.

However, I am now off the political scene – a bit of a relief as it was getting tiresome and  I will now satirise life in general.

On the upside, there have been lots of supportive emails, phone calls and messages to both me and the editor which has restored my faith in human nature. But it worries me that we live in a world that has so much underlying hate waiting to leap out at the slightest provocation. Has it always been this way? What do you think?

On a more cheerful note:- Next week, the first of my Great Reads of 2018. Don’t miss it.

Till then, take care

Lucinda

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18 thoughts on “IN THE FIRING LINE

  1. There are people who seem to walk around trying to find something that will make them feel offended. It’s definitely their problem, not yours, but the nature of this world is that we leave ourselves exposed when we try to communicate. I’m pleased you didn’t give up. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was tempted Olga, but then ‘they would win’ I guess. I often have to rush to get the article in on time – I get caught up with other writing stuff – but I’ve not missed a deadline for 40 years and I’m not going to start now 🙂 I don'[t think it’s possible to write anything without offending someone, somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to launch personal attacks on a person who has written something with which they disagree. It used to be people write letters to the editor, arguing about what had been written – now they just launch an attack on the person. I think it is definitely something to do with social media. Sorry about it, Lucinda, and glad your editor stood up for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes Mary she was very supportive,but I was dismayed to see she didn’t apologise or even mention it in her blurb in the magazine. Worrying though that this unleashes such anger, there seems to be a lot of it about. I can imagine how teenagers feel when they are under attack and bullied online.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How awful Lucinda no one should have to suffer that I do hope you are ok…I have been concerned for a while though I am in a few FB groups and sometimes the level of nastiness and abuse is awful and I have left some groups because of this. It is a very worrying trend though 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Carol, I’m fine – now. It is worrying why some people are so full of anger and frustration – the modern world too fast, worries etc? I was tempted to say – as I think they must be local as the magazine does not have a massive footprint – to say, ‘let’s meet up for coffee’ so I can understand why you got so angry. Would they respond the same face to face?

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  6. Hate speech is becoming a major problem now. I put it down to the distance social media puts between the shouter and the shoutee. When people sit down and talk about things face to face, this happens less. My OH has been unfriended, blocked and shouted at by people he has never met simply because he poses questions about the world they don’t approve of. Awful. They have even unfriended me for being associated with him. Social media doesn’t laways rule! I’m so glad you’re keeping on with your column, Lucinda. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Val – what worries me is why people are so angry – what’s causing all this pent up aggression they release in ranting on social media? As you say, it’s unlikely they would do it face to face and I would have been prepared to meet them. They assumed I’d had the same background as them – work in UK, retire yo Spain on a pension – little did they know my journey before Spain! 🙂 Similar to yours and we know what it’s like.

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  8. Sorry to hear this. Society has been changing in ways it is hard for some off use to comprehend. People do appear to be increasingly ignorant and lacking in respect (of self as well as others). Glad you have stayed with it but must make it difficult to determine content of future articles. Hoping you never have to experience such behaviour again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There really are more rational people but they are not the vocal minority. I do not use the word fake news but there is too much toading to ONLY the negative slant. And couch potatoes are being covered with dung, very little nutrients in the soil to ensure proper growth.

    Carry on – the banner of sanity, love, hope, and at times, satire (MAYBE PUT IN CAPS) is sorely needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That is dreadful for you, Lucinda, and so unfair. There are quite a few people these days who seem to relish taking offence and engaging in rude and bullying behaviour on social media. In Canberra, a woman with a severely disabled child wrote something asking people not to park in disabled car parking spaces – and was then subjected to a vile stream of hateful abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

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