This morning, I got an email through my website. It told me that someone had left a comment on a hate site targeted entirely at one, single woman, my friend and fellow farmer/writer Jenna Woginrich. Apparently, someone had something to say about what I had said about Jenna. I don’t know what they said, though, because I’m not giving even a second of my time to such ugliness. The email message then went on to say hateful, venomous things about Jenna. I wrote back immediately and told the person on the other end of that hate that Jenna and I were friends, that I loved that woman, and that I was appalled that someone had enough venom for another human being that they would track down people who cared for her just to say awful things.
Sadly, I know that this was not the first time that Jenna has faced such awfulness.
I also know she is not the only person. Last year, my friend and fellow writer Kristen Howerton was pommeled with racist hatred that was directed not only at her but at her beautiful multi-ethnic family when she became the target of a white supremacist hate group. They attacked her on Twitter, on Facebook, through email, and even went so far as to share her home address publicly. It was horrid.
Why I’m Sharing These Stories
Now, I don’t share these stories to scare you, but the truth is that when we write publicly it is possible that we may be the target of hateful, angry people who – because of their own wounds and brokenness – come after us. Still, I think we must be brave – as Jenna and Kristen are – and write on.
No, rather, I share these stories so that we can know how important it is to have one another’s backs out here in the wild world of writing.
When hard times come – be those hard times huge like the attacks that Jenna and Kristen have faced or small like a bad review – the best thing I know to do is to reach out to my fellow writers and ask for help. In Kristen’s case, she asked her friends to report the offending Twitter handles and then to write the host for the hate group behind the trolling, and eventually, the group effort brought the site down (at least for a while.) Jenna just boldly calls out the haters and lets her friends rally around her. That kind of transparency helps disempower the darkness of hatred.
We need each other for these hard days, and so I share these stories so we can rally around Jenna and Kristen AND so we can stand shoulder to shoulder with each other when we need the army of words beside us.
How You Can Show Solidarity with Other Writers
There are kabillions (yep, that’s a real number) of ways we can support other writers. Here are just a few:
- When we see ugliness being spewed, we can respond in support of the writer. If there’s an Amazon review that’s a personal attack on our colleague, we can call that out. If someone posts hateful comments on a blog, we can respond – gently but directly – to that hatred. This way, we don’t leave our friends to defend themselves and look, well, defensive.
- When our friends ask for help, we can take action. If a fellow tells us she’s a target of an organized attack, we can do what she asks – report, respond, block, ignore. When someone tells us that they expect protesters as their book reading, we can show up for the reading and build a quiet line of support to block out the hatred.
- We can share their work with others. Recommend their books. Share their blog posts. Buy friends copies of their work. That gentle building of like-minded readers can be a huge act of love for other writers.
- Reach out to the writer with words of support. A kind word on social media. A brief email. A personal note through the mail. Those tiny words of support can be pillars of support during the hard days of a writer’s life.
Now, that’s not to say that we need to blindly support our colleagues’ work. Sometimes, we will disagree with one another. But we never, ever need to speak hate about other human beings. Ever. No matter how much we disagree, disapprove, or find offensive.
Let’s remember that we all need one another in this writing world. Let’s not be stingy with our support. Let’s stand with one another in love and solidarity, writer to writer, shoulder to shoulder.
Have you ever been the victim of a personal attack because of your writing? If so, how were or how might have other writers been helpful to you?
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Also, Friday is the last day to get the early bird price of $195 for our writer’s retreat at the farm this June. Get all the details and register here.