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How Not to Be A Writer

I know several of you on my friends list are already following or posting about this, but it's fucked up enough to deserve wider attention.

1. Writer/editor Steve Berman (mroctober), in a brief LJ rundown (not even a review) of the anthology Unspeakable Horrors, makes the one-line comment on the story "The Portico Angel" by author Kevin W. Reardon: "[A] bad opening crippled this story for me plus the various relationships felt off." He receives a long, butthurt e-mail from Reardon, replies politely, and puts the whole thing aside, as any professional would do.

2. A couple of weeks later, Berman posts about his depression over not writing. The entry receives an anonymous comment urging Berman to commit suicide -- typical troll spew, but more disturbing than average because of its coherence and seriousness of intent. It's the kind of message that makes you think it might push a certain type of depressive toward actually harming himself. In a later comment, the anonymous poster again urges Berman to jump from his window, this time suggesting he take his cat with him (naturally, that was the part that really pissed some people off).

3. Of course it turns out that the anonymous poster is butthurt author Kevin W. Reardon, a.k.a. Cole A. Adams. Upon being exposed, he claims he thought Berman knew it was him all the time, and yet again reiterates his desire to see Berman commit suicide, freely admitting that his animosity is based on that one-line comment by Berman on Reardon's story and that he would, in fact, be thrilled if he had managed to cause Berman harm. When Berman's friends point out that urging editors to kill themselves is not the best way to build a career, he responds that he isn't in it for the "career"; unlike Berman and the rest of us money-grubbing, award-chasing hacks, he is Only About The Art.

4. As of last night, Steve Berman reports that Reardon/Cole has threatened his life. (Yes, he has contacted the police.)

5. These soap operas, made possible by writers' and editors' accessibility online, are entertaining until they happen to you or someone you care about. I don't know Steve Berman*, but I know he has done good work and doesn't deserve to be harassed by some wingnut wannabe artiste. He wouldn't deserve it if he had said Reardon's story was the worst piece of shit he'd ever read and he hoped Reardon would never write another word. It's called criticism. If you publish your work, you will experience it. It will not always be nice. Sometimes it may make you gnash your teeth, rend your garments, and/or fantasize about doing terrible things to the critics in question. If, however, you respond by sending the critics hate mail and threatening their lives, you will admittedly solve your own problem, as you will be extremely unlikely to ever get anything else published and thus will never again have to bear the sting of a bad review.

*I don't know Kevin W. Reardon either, or his writing, but just the fact that he is apparently a gay horror writer would have made me kindly disposed to him if I'd heard about him under other circumstances. See how this stuff works?

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