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.
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.
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).
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.
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