A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Unspeaking the Language of Silence

People say the damnedest things. But they say even damneder things when they say nothing at all.

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Silence is generally a coward's way of raising his voice when he's angry. Its basic meanness often hides behind a superior stance: You're not good enough to talk to...You're not even worthy of a second thought or chance...I will not pollute my mind with thoughts of such as you...Etc.

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I've been on the receiving end of a few personal shunnings. But I resist the impulse to shun my shunners in return. My door is always open if they ever Sorry-up. I have no time for:

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But my thoughts turn now to professional dead air. Today a colleague lamented, on a private forum, that no one had entered a Comment on her new monthly post. Almost instantly, a small group of supportive members rallied to her side. The absence of some others let me to reflect on other forms of silence.

Heartless nonresponsiveness
--You approach your group or circle with a request for reviews, offering free copies. And one of two things happens:
    1) You receive no responses at all.
    2) You receive a few okays...proceed to send gift copies...but then never hear another word.

Leech nonresponsiveness
--You post, on a collective blog, a particularly useful piece, summing your experience on an important topic. And suddenly everyone is flocking to this or that agent...or using the scoop you've revealed. And yet:
     1) Not one appreciative comment is posted.
     2) Strangers send you messages requesting pro referrals...or readings of their books.

--The dear rogue who keeps telling you over and over that his promised review will arrive any day.

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Possible alternatives to the Silent Treatment
1) Gentle Correctives
--When a total stranger asks for a review, let them know they need to learn professional behavior.
--When a total stranger asks for any favor, let them know the Code: connect first on a personal level, then ask.

2) Plan B's
--When writers you put out books that falls short, let them know you love their work but can't review these...and tell them why. Tell them you hope to be there for their next.
--If you can't review a book, you can offer to tout it on Twitter or Facebook.
--If you can't even read the book now, let the author know your schedule. And offer what support you can.
--A supportive comment on a blog needn't run hundreds of words. Even a handful of kind words will be well received.
--If you requested a gift copy, at the very least send your thanks.

Summary Judgment
The Silent Treatment sucks. We can't engage with everyone or do the whole world favors, But we can do better than zipping our lips. No one will like everything that we say. Then again, none can say our hearts aren't as true as a lion's.

And...We all would do well to remember that when we vote with our thumbs down, we just might be totally wrong.
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