I like a good debate. There’s nothing better than challenging assumptions over a bottle of wine. What I like most about it is that you walk away afterward and the discussion can be over. Not so on the old Interweb. Things can get crazy when people polarize around an argument. Take the argument for, or against, traditional publishing.
What does it look like?
A knight stands at a fork in the road. His armor is dented, some of it hanging by hinges. He holds a nicked and rusty sword.
Approaching the knight is a man dressed in running gear, black spandex running pants, the latest running shoes and a sweat wicking tee shirt with ‘best seller’ scrawled across the chest in permanent marker. He comes to an abrupt stop as the knight raises the sword.
“Stop, outlandish knave,” shouts the knight in a voice roughened by years of challenging those who approach the fork.
“Dude,” says the runner. “’Sup?”
“You must solve the riddle before I allow you to pass.”
The knave starts running in place so he doesn’t stiffen up. “Shoot.”
“Should you wish to present your message to the reading public, you must pass the road to the right. To do that, you must submit a request in writing to be asked the riddle.” The knight lowers his sword and waits.
The knave looks around and then turns back to the knight. “Dude, how long is it going to take to get approval?”
“I will add your request to the pile. Your name will be pulled and you will be called if you are worthy.”
“You should just let me pass, dude. I don’t need to answer riddles. My message is ready. Look,” he opens his backpack and pulls out a handful of coffee stained papers.
The knight laughs and says, “That is not in the correct format. Be gone!”
The knave tries to straighten the pages. “Look what if I read you a bit,” he says. “The sun was hot and then I remembered my childhood fear of being…”
The knight slashes with his sword and cuts through the pages. “How dare you assault my ears with such horrid sounds?”
“But my mom says…”
The knight reaches out and punches the knave. “I care not for the words of your mother.”
The knave punches the knight and says, “Dude, don’t dis my mom.”
A piece of armor falls off the knight.
In the distance we hear the sound of running feet. Suddenly three more knaves arrive, one in a business suit, one in pajamas and one in a long robe.
The knight, still battling the first knave, tells them to request the riddle and two of the new knaves join in the fight.
The knave in the business suit looks ahead to the road on the left. She looks back at the battle and shakes her head in disappointment, then runs past to the left hand road.
“Come back here, Knave,” the knight calls. “Thou are a loser and village idiot.”
Stumbling a little on the rocky path, our business suited knave continues down the road traveled by fools and idiots who do as they want without waiting for a chance to answer the riddle.
What is the problem with this?
I know that there’s a ‘rule’ of the internet that says, be controversial to attract readers to your message. There’re plenty of people stirring the pot for the sake of making a wave. Interesting conversations come out of such mixtures.
But when it comes down to the level of “I’m right and you must be evil if you don’t do it this way”, the fight becomes the purpose and the writing becomes a casualty. And we are all guilty of the ‘you must be evil” argument.
Perry Wilson is a Canadian author based in Vancouver, BC. She is a member of the Vancouver Independent Writers Group, and has self-published several novels. The third book of the Madeline series, A Twist of Power, is due out in the winter 2012. Learn more about Perry from her blog and her Amazon author page.