First: I am in love with this article by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown. As I mentioned in comments at Sherwood’s LJ, a female character cannot be confident, competent, and likeable without being deemed a Mary Sue. (That doesn’t even touch upon appearance, which is a whole ‘nother target of spite and vitriol.) I remember a beta reader once telling me a character was a Mary Sue because of those three factors. It didn’t matter that the character had been show to earn those traits; the three in combination simply Could Not Be Done is the character was to be “realistic.”
Think about that for a moment. A character with competence, natural and practiced talents, who was liked because of the way she actually treated others was not realistic. She simply wasn’t insecure enough, tormented enough, or outcast enough to be realistic.
That’s a fucking sad commentary on what “real women” are supposed to be.
And I should note that the majority of folks I read throwing about the Mary Sue accusation to other writers are women. That’s double-fucking sad, in my opinion.
(Yes, I know the original definition of Mary Sue. Alas, linguistic drift has bestowed a slightly different definition now, and that’s the one we’re stuck with, and I don’t deem it interesting, necessary, or productive to insist everyone use the phrase in its “proper” fashion.)
Second: This post by John Wiswell–now a fellow graduate of Viable Paradise–made me cheer first (because hooray! more VP grads!), then made me grumble to learn some self-publishers thought it was a waste of his time. *sigh* I know there is a subset of self-publishers who cannot fathom the worth of critique prior to publication, nor the bliss of spending days among writers who care about storytelling. My suspicion is it’s the same subset who would have, in the pre- self-publishing days, written long diatribes to agents and editors in response to rejections.
Me, I see nothing incongruent between attending Viable Paradise and self-publishing. One is for craft and fellowship. One is a business decision. Anyone with shoulder-chips might indeed have good information about their side of the argument, but not the best judgment on which path is best for others.
Third: I have no link for it, but have been following various blog posts and Twitter comments from folks attending WFC in London. From writers who have the “proper” credentials, who should without a doubt be treated to at least the crumbs of common courtesy. And they are not.
That sort of disregard of writers–at what is supposed to be a celebration of such creativity–is a pretty good indication of what value such folks place on the writers’ creations. And don’t sing the “But they’re all volunteers!” song my direction. I’ve volunteered for numerous non-genre, professional conferences and conventions. I and other volunteers assumed courtesy and professionalism were standard expectations, not something guests received if they caught us a good time and were appropriately humble in their requests.
Fourth: Check out David Gaughran on the tightening of Traditional Publishing/Author Solutions ties. If you’re planning to go the traditional publishing route, it’s critical you read and understand it. If you’re self-publishing, it’s equally important. Alas, it’s becoming more difficult for new writers to avoid being shuttled into dead-end and horribly expensive self-publishing “services” that are endorsed by the same traditional publishers who sneered at Author Solutions and their ilk just a couple years ago. “I know those other people say Author Solutions is a scam, and is being sued by their past customers,” says the new writer in search of validation, “but Big Respected Publisher says they’re awesome, so it must okay to give them thousands of dollars!”
And I was certain I had a fifth link, but it has vanished.
Edited 10-18-2013 for clarity.