I was in Cleveland this weekend attending the launch party for Lisa and Laura Roecker's book, The Liar Society (Yes, it was that awesome.), so I missed the brou-ha-ha (always wanted to use that) over this thing called the YA Mafia.
I've got to admit, the first time I read that hashtag I snort-laughed because I got this instant image of Libba Bray grabbing Maureen Johnson, planting one on her and growling, "I know it was you, Fredo."
Because it is just that ridiculous.
So what exactly is this YA Mafia? As far as I understand, it's a group of established YA writers who promote each other's books, hand out blurbs like candy on Halloween to fellow insiders, and meangirl authors on the rise or those who negatively review their books on goodreads. Am I right? I'm not exactly sure, because I didn't have the time to read through all the tweets and blogposts this morning BECAUSE I WAS WRITING.
Which is what those accused of being part of this conspiracy were probably doing. Because that's what writers spend 95% of their time doing. The other 5% is spent frantically trying to hold together the other aspects of our lives--cleaning the house, tending the family, taking a shower just often enough so we don't offend. If these mafioso--with all their deadlines, promotional responsibilities, and speaking engagements--have time to orchestrate high level harassment, I want to know how they do it! (Hey--now that's an idea for a SCBWI seminar!)
I'm not denying there are drama queens, jerks, and vindictive people in this industry. However, for the time I've been a participant in the YA community, I haven't seen many. I have seen a lot of kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness, though.
Once you've given yourself over to paranoia, it keeps growing until it evolves into narcissism. I know because I've allowed this to happen to me.
Okay, here's a by now standard Loretta analogy/story (I promise I have a point): I signed up for my very first yoga class in January. I'm a yoga kind of gal, but I always practiced at home to a DVD because I was absolutely terrified to be in a room where everyone would pass judgment on my ass while I bent in half for downward dog. And what if I started sweating? Farted? Split my yoga pants? Don't laugh. These were real fears for me.
On the first day of class I considered grabbing my yoga mat and running like hell. When we started our breathing exercises I was convinced everyone was secretly laughing at my "Om." But you know what? NO ONE was paying the least bit of attention to me, because these were true students of yoga. Their focus was on the practice of the art. It wasn't that I was beneath notice, it was that their job was to make themselves better. And if everyone in the class thought that way, we'd ALL improve.
Now let's hope the next hashtag getting all the attention will be #amwriting. Because that's what we should all be doing.
(That said, if Libba, Maureen, Holly, et al., want to sabotage me, I would LOVE it because I'd get more blog followers. And it would fuel my embarrassingly detailed Jason Bourne fantasies. But that's another blog post altogether...)