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Janitor On Duty

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December 24th, 2008

11:23 PM

Ann Somerville

Hugs and understanding

Let's talk about Ann Somerville. Yes, that's right, the elephant in the room. You know her, I'm sure. You have come across her before. You may even have, in the words of someone who told me, emerged from an exchange with her feeling as if "[you] have been run over by a truck. Twice." I'm sure many of you will rather claw your way through the roof and crawl down the air vents than to be trapped in an elevator with her.

But you know what? I like her. I don't care if she has declared me her enemy over some measly thing like a book title with a naughty word. I like her. You want to know why? Here are the reasons why.

  • I will always know where I stand with Ann. I will know if she likes me or hates me. Sure, she doesn't listen as well as I'd like her to, especially when it comes to opinions that are different from hers, but at least I will know when she is having an issue with me. Compared to some of the ridiculous schoolyard politics played by her peers in the MM circles, Ann's upfront and brusque manner is far more preferable. I hate to use a cliché, but Ann does "keep it real" and I appreciate that. I can't say that I appreciate being at the receiving end of her ire, heh, but I understand why she's coming on strong the way she does.
  • She writes very well. Yeah, I'm a pushover, but she writes well.
  • She actually makes very valid and good points when she is not working herself up into a frenzy. She has offered some of the best detailed advices I've come across on Dear Author's First Page series. She also has offered some interesting perspectives on the industry on blogs such as Dear Author. Like many of you, I run for the hills the moment Ann's eyes figuratively turn red and smoke starts coming out from her nostrils, but I'm a tough gal. I can take it. I don't mind taking a few bruises on my ego because you know what? It's just words. They can't hurt me. So Ann calls me a "fucktard" (okay, this is just an example, I'm not aware that she has called me that, at least to my face). I'll call her a fucktard back and we'll take it from there.

I believe Ann won't appreciate me saying this, but I'm really starting to feel sorry for her due to the recent flak she has been getting. I know she doesn't want sympathy, but I can't help feeling this way. You see, I'm sure we all know that Ann has no tact or subtlety. She doesn't do nuances. Fine. But she also views others in the same way that she views opinions: in shades of black and white. As a result, she never fails to fall right into the trap of her sparring opponents. All they have to do is to lay down a few choice phrases in a post that will set her off and then step back as Ann flies into a frenzy and alienates even her own allies as everyone flees from the resulting explosion. Ann never comes off well in such a confrontation because her mistake is that she does not know how to play as cunningly as her sparring partners. In such a situation, Ann is starting to look like... well, dare I say it? A valiantly barking little dog who is cornered but doesn't know how to get out of the situation?

It's Christmas time, folks. So let's just leave Ann be. If you think that she has been beaten, then savor the defeat and let her be. There is no need to behave as if she has to be beaten into submission and erased off the face of the earth. Yes, so some of the things she has said hurt your feelings, but they are just words. She didn't come over and kill your puppies. Don't buy her books if you don't like her. Ignore her blog posts. Tell her to fuck off.

Just call off the burning torches, pitchforks, and buckets of blood, please. Ann is not Carrie wanting to attend the MM Prom. Just let her be, ignore her if she's saying things that you find disagreeable, and take the high road.

Merry Christmas, everyone. You too, Ms Somerville.

10 comment(s).

Posted by K. Z. Snow:

Very well put, Mrs. G. The m/m "circles" can indeed be confounding, what with all their fandoms and accompanying Royal Snits, their often clashing standards for political correctness and writing excellence and acceptable online behavior, their sometimes clannish publishers.

I'm on the far fringes of it all. Ann, however (sorry, Ann; I do hate referring to you in the third person), has no qualms about diving into any given fray.

Ballsy? Yes. Bright and articulate? Without a doubt. Trigger happy, frequently condescending, occasionally unreasonable? Oh, yeah. But never boring.

Still, Merry Christmas to all. I'm withdrawing to my snowy fringe now.

(By the way, who the bloody hell are the Goldbergs?)
December 25th, 2008 @ 2:41 AM

Posted by Ann Somerville:

"I don't care if she has declared me her enemy over some measly thing like a book title with a naughty word."

I don't think writing to you to say I'm disappointed equates to calling you my enemy, Mrs G. You didn't make my list of fuckwits, after all.

Um, is it necessary to write a whole post about what a pain in the arse I am but hey, don't pick on her? The support is nice, but just once, I'd like someone to mention my good points....

Okay. At least link to my book store :)

Merry Christmas from 'Sally'
December 25th, 2008 @ 3:35 AM

Posted by Ann Somerville:

oh, and I don't call anyone a 'fucktard'. That's a really disgusting word.
December 25th, 2008 @ 3:42 AM

Posted by Robin:

Yes, yes, yes, a hundred times YES!

You know, I've learned a lot about people in the way they respond to Ann. And I'm not talking about people feeling offended or hurt or pissed off by what she says. I'm talking about the meanness (and I'm using that word in several senses) directed at her. Some of the latest to break out has been surprising and appalling. And if these folks don't think they're being mean -- well, there's no way they can actually believe that, right? Right?

Anyway, I've become most allergic to the "throw the rock, hide the hand" type of critique, the "I'll kiss your ass in public but slam you into the ground in (semi-private)" bullshit, which I think is exponentially worse than the sometimes over the top outrage and unprovoked defensiveness that can characterize Ann's online comments.

I also wish Ann wouldn't be such easy prey for those who want to scapegoat, marginalize, and otherwise deflect attention away from themselves and onto her, but as I said earlier, I think her gullibility in that way has revealed others in ways they don't intend or anticipate.

There is no need to behave as if she has to be beaten into submission and erased off the face of the earth. Yes, so some of the things she has said hurt your feelings, but they are just words. She didn't come over and kill your puppies. Don't buy her books if you don't like her. Ignore her blog posts. Tell her to fuck off.

I'm not particularly religious, but AMEN to that.
December 25th, 2008 @ 4:36 AM

Posted by K. Z. Snow:

Robin, I've learned a lot about people -- probably more than I care to know -- through the way they respond to blog posts in general. Just when I think I've seen/heard it all . . . :-?
December 25th, 2008 @ 6:56 AM

Posted by cs:

If you're not kissing someone's ass in the M/M world. You can't be there friend. Whilst they'll all kissing and praising each other, I'll take Ann and her writing. She's honest and at least she isn't hypocrite.

Have a good one.
December 25th, 2008 @ 7:07 AM

Posted by Anion:

I like Ann, too. A lot, actually. I don't agree with everything she says (and when I disagree I *really* disagree), but I do with quite a bit of it.

And yes, I to am getting very sick of the "Let's kick Ann/poke her with a stick" game. She's a good person. She deserves to be treated as such.
December 26th, 2008 @ 11:41 PM

Posted by Throwmearope:

Ann has tossed a couple of comments my way, but I don't take umbrage lightly. My son, the uber geek says the internet isn't for wienies.
December 28th, 2008 @ 12:46 AM

Posted by Karen Scott:

This is generally how any lovefest that involves Ann goes:

Ann makes perfectly valid points that most people agree with.

Somebody disagrees with her in a passive agressive manner, knowing that she'll probably start going off her head. I have employed this trick once or twice myself. (Not necessarily at Ann I hasten to add)

Ann loses her head and verbally hammers the commenter.

On-lookers and general haters use this as an excuse to pile on Ann.

The pile-on starts getting too uncomfortable to witness, and the sympathy for Ann kicks in.

People start taking potshots at the people taking potshots at Ann, to prove that they are not part of the Ann Bashing crew.

Robin/Janet steps in as the voice of reason, and points out that Ann is an easy target because she doesn't censor herself, and that free speech is for all, not just the 'in' people. (or something like that)

The people taking potshots at Ann start feeling abused, and can't work out how they became the bad guy in the argument.

Ann eventually calms down, and starts being rational again.

Everybody lives happily ever after til the next Lovefest.
December 30th, 2008 @ 5:23 AM

Posted by Sparky:

I've always liked Ann for all the reasons some criticise her for.

She talks sense, a lot of sense. her advice is not only sound but usually gold standard and I've never actually seen a stance that she's fought vehemently over that I didn't disagree with. Quite a few times I've been grateful that there is someone willing to put the energy and effort into fighting some of the battles she has fought and wish I had the time and energy to be up front with her.

And it's an amazing RELIEF on the internet to have someone who will NEVER go behind your back, never fudge her words and never wait until I'm not looking to get in a sucker punch. If Ann says she likes what I've done or agrees with me - I know that that's true and (since I value her opinion) I know I've done something well. In the same way, if I screw up or do something awful or ridiculous - I know Ann will tell me so. I can take her word at face value and take it to the bank - neither false praise nor snide maneuverings will trip me up.

So keep on fighting Ann, the world would be a better place if more people were like the honest and intelligent Ann than the backstabbing politicing folks we have to deal so much with
December 30th, 2008 @ 7:58 PM