A couple of weeks ago, an author in the UK named Lynn Shepherd made one of the more bafflingly boneheaded moves I’ve seen in a long time, by posting a blog on the Huffington Post entitled “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.”
Many of you probably read it, and/or saw the resulting kerfuffle as it spread across Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet at large.
At this point the cyber-flames have ebbed and the dust has settled, as newer scandals have inevitably taken over the headlines, such as Travolta mangling Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars. But the reality is that for Ms. Shepherd, it ain’t over. I’ll explain why in a moment. First let’s take a look at some of the most incendiary parts of her blog (as if her title were not incendiary enough).
“I’ve never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can’t comment on whether the [Harry Potter] books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there’s so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds.”
Ms. Shepherd’s primary complaint with Ms. Rowling is about the books she has written for adults, which Shepherd maintains “sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere.” To back up her position, Shepherd states that “Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do.”
Shepherd closed her diatribe by graciously advising Rowling: “By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure – I would never deny anyone that – but when it comes to the adult market you’ve had your turn.”
Written without a trace of humor, the one unintentionally ironic part of her post is in the opening section, where she says:
“When I told a friend the title of this piece she looked at me in horror and said, ‘You can’t say that, everyone will just put it down to sour grapes!'”
Wow – ya think?
But I’m not here to beat Shepherd up. She’s taken quite a beating for this already. Instead I want to look at what she did, why it didn’t work, and – when it became clear that it hadn’t worked – what she should have done. [Read more…]