I don't know if it's something in the air, water or my astrological chart, but I am picking fights with people right and left. To wit:
The President of a writer's group I belong to sent out what I found to be a very snippy e-mail message concerning a member and some suggestions this member asked be forwarded to the board for consideration. In the course of presenting the member's suggestions to us, the President implied this woman was pushy and a pain in the ass and pretty much tore each suggestion apart in front of us before (ha ha) asking for our opinions.
What's that all about? How are people supposed to voice their opinions when the President makes clear from the e-mail she sends out that she wants no part of these suggestions and she's ticked off they were brought before the board in the first place? What irritated me more is that no one else on our board said anything about the tone of the message or that it might be improper to present requests to the board in this matter. (The e-mails about this were going on while I was in Portland).
So the heck with it. I wrote an e-mail to the board and included a paragraph where I pointed out to the President that her annoyance with the member shown through and I didn't think that was the proper way to handle the requests. I tried to keep it neutral and also thanked her for all the great work she does (because she takes on a TON of work and is a very good President). But I'm annoyed 1) she sent the e-mail out the way the did, 2) no one spoke up about it, 3) I had to do it.
And I guess I didn't have to do it, but it seems to me the right thing to do. I don't want to be part of a board that bashes people behind their back. Which leads to...
This is just a quick recap from last month when I was angry over a different writers group saga. In this group we get a ton of messages replied to the entire group that say things like, "Good Job!" and I sent an e-mail asking if people could reply to the person and not the group. That started a firestorm. It was settled (people continue to send e-mails to the group) but I had people e-mailing me behind the scenes saying they agreed with me, but they wouldn't step forward to say it on their own. It frustrates me. Who are these people so afriad to state their opinion about such a small matter?
Yet a third writers group I belong to (but not for long) is wearing me down. We've invited a major NY editor to speak at our annual meeting and getting stipend money to pay for this agent was like getting blood from a stone but they finally agreed. But now they're refusing to pay for a $180 hotel room for the night for this agent, insisting she'll be fine bunking with one of our members in their home.
This woman is paying her own plane fare, paying for her meals, giving a 40-minute talk and we can't spring for one hotel room when we have PLENTY of money in the bank to do so? I was ticked and sent--truth be told--not the nicest e-mail to the group. I believe the words "tacky" and "embarrassing" were used with some frequency.
Hmmm....interesting how all the problems stem from writers groups (couldn't be me--I'm never the problem <grin>). So here are my new rules for writers I may happen to be in a group with:
- Have an opinion. Don't wait to see what the group thinks or what the safe bet will be before you form it.
- Be willing to state your opinion.
- Say what you mean. I'm so tired of people pussyfooting around because they don't want to hurt someones feelings or are afraid so and so will get mad. Get a backbone.
- Consider the feelings of others. Stating your opinion doesn't mean bulldozing over others. It just means you're willing to put your view forth in a non-accusatory manner and see if it floats. There's no need to deflat other people or ridicule their opinons just to make yours heard (All right, I need to work on this one myself...)
- Be willing to change your opinion. But only if it's because you've been persuaded--not intimadated--into doing so.
- Have some fun. From what I've seen, people take themselves, their work, and their importance way too seriously. Lighten up and have some fun. The group you work with will appreciate it.