Brain Babies: Just … Stop It Already with the (fill-in-the-blank) Shaming


I recently saw a discussion on Facebook (which is, sadly where most of my social interaction takes place these days) about self-publishing vs traditional publishing. The theme wasn’t so much about the validity of either approach or the potential benefits of one or the other. Which, since you are all writers, I imagine you have at least a passing understanding of those things, so I won’t go into it. We all know trad-pubbed writers and self-pubbed writers and I imagine most of us are one or the other, or both. I myself have only gone the trad-pub route so far. I may dabble in self-pub at some point, just to see what it’s like.

Anyway, the point here is that some people (on both sides) are casting aspersions on the other way of doing it. Self-pubbers are slamming trad-pubbers for giving away some of their profits; Trad-pubbers are slamming self-pubbers for, I’m not really sure, doing all the work themselves, maybe? I have a hard time finding issue with self-publishing. I mean, you put up all the money, do all the work and reap all the reward. Where’s the problem?

My only negative experience with self-publishing was this: I asked a local bookstore if they would carry one of my books. Without even looking at it, they said, “We don’t carry self-published books.” When I explained that it was out of a small press in New York, they looked at it. A few minutes later, they said, “No thanks.” So, yeah. Didn’t matter much who put it out, I guess. Not that I’m bitter.

Now, this particular topic got me thinking about something that bugs the shit out of me: shaming.

Race-shaming; fat-shaming; skinny-shaming; gender-shaming; class-shaming; religion-shaming; any kind of shaming at all. It boils down to making someone feel like shit because of who they are, and that, folks, is about at horrible as it gets.

Now, I’m a 49-year-old white guy of average height who has a decent job and a house (which I bought damn cheap, but I own), two kids and a working car. What do I know about being on the wrong end of shaming? Well, first of all, who hasn’t been the victim of it at some point? When I was younger, I had hair down to my lower back. I got called a “faggot” and a “hippie” and a “freak” plenty of times. I got followed by security guys when I went to upscale stores. I got harassed by cops a lot. Because I had long hair. Asinine. I still get crap from people because I have tattoos, though not as much now, as most people seem to have them. When I was 19 and got my first one, I caught a lot of flack for it. That doesn’t even bother me anymore, though. A man said to me a few years ago, “You have a lot of tattoos to work at a library.” I shrugged, smiled and said, “I have a lot of tattoos everywhere I go.”

So, I’ve been there. Been told I’m inferior, been told to conform, to fit it. I’m not having it. I like who I am and I don’t particularly care if you don’t like me.

Not every lifestyle, or fashion choice, or sexual proclivity is for everyone. We all have our own thing we get into. That’s what makes this world the wonderful, messy, stinky, diverse, exciting stew of madness it is. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

So, please, everybody, stop being shitty to people who are different from you. Because it’s a dick move. No more shaming.

I don’t care if you self-pub, trad-pub, write stories in pink ink on a dry erase board naked in the bathtub. We’re all writers here. We’re all human beings. We all have feelings that are oh-so-easily hurt. So, please. Be nice. Don’t judge.

Stop shaming.

A little love and understanding goes a long, long way. Peace.


Ken MacGregor 2016

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1 Response

  1. Yup, been there Ken, still there sometimes! Started a new publishing company. All the expensive lawyer stuff done etc. We both have worked in the pub industry and have had bigger bookstores turn our author’s book down as “self published” yet we ARE his publisher! Spent tons on artwork and covers, know how to do all the work. People walk in to the big places asking for it and they can’t get it! We’ve been on NPR etc. getting some critical buzz, but I guess if you’re starting out small with one book and more on the way, you are considered mere “chump change” in the big book dastardly world. Still swimming, you should too!
    We’re Going to Need a Bigger Bowl! (our new catch phrase!)
    Laurie and Jon Wilson
    Fish Out of Water Books
    Ann Arbor, MI
    [email protected]