I’m from Mississippi.
Most of you who’ve been around for a while know that, as I’ve mentioned it before. There are a lot of things I really love about my home state (stuff that I had to leave and come back to appreciate)–the food, the fact that random strangers smile and wave or say “hi”, that we have an often slower pace than big cities, that we have one of the best conferences in the SEC, that you can still rely on the kindness of strangers rather than expecting you’ll be mugged at every turn. Those are aspects of MY Mississippi. The things that I want to show when I finally write about it, be that through my Kitchen Witch series or my Mississippi-based romantic suspense.
Why? Because being from Mississippi, I’ve faced astounding amounts of ignorance and prejudice about my home state. People who think the Civil War was fought entirely over slavery (um, no, it was fought over states’ rights, and 98% of the soldiers down here were fighting to protect their land and families, not the 2% of jerks who had slaves–and for the record, the flag everybody keeps waving around saying is a Confederate flag is NOT the Confederate flag–it was a battle flag of a particular unit–not that the revisionist history they teach above the Mason-Dixon line actually covers that). People who’ve never been here who think that we’re still a bunch of asshole, racist, rednecks and missed the fact that the Civil Rights movement actually happened. People who seem to think we’re still segregated. Who think we’re stupid. On a school trip to Chicago once (where we all had to wear the dumb t-shirts proclaiming we were from a school in Mississippi), I got stopped on Michigan Avenue by some ignorant ass and asked why we were wearing shoes. There are honestly people out there who think that movies like Oh Brother Where Art Thou are accurate about how life is down here today.
When I was in college at Ole Miss–yes, that Ole Miss where integration was first pushed through back in the 60s–we elected our first African American student body president. It was a huge deal. He was a friend of mine and brilliant and did wonderful things for our campus. CNN came down to cover it. And while they were there, some STUPID ASSHOLE threw a rock through a dorm window with a piece of paper that had a racial slur written on it. That’s what CNN chose to show about Ole Miss. Because they just HAD to give that sensation-seeking asshole, exactly what he wanted. The world, it seems, DOES NOT want to allow any proof of the fact that Mississippi has MOVED ON. And yeah, it still infuriates me. Because, of course, if you come here looking for evidence of racism and prejudice, you’ll find it. But guess what? It exists EVERYWHERE ELSE TOO. The KKK capital of the U.S. is in Indiana, not here.
My point here today is not actually to talk about my home state and educate the ignorant. I’m giving all this as background because I see a huge parallel in the ignorance floating around about self publishing. Now certainly, most of the peeps who follow me here are among the educated. I’ve got a big indie following that includes the contingent who believes in putting out professional work to rival New York. We’re made up of intelligent, hard-working people who have been fighting tooth and nail to overcome the stigma associated with self-publishing.
And yet the ignorance is so wide spread. And it’s not at all helped by having otherwise intelligent, respected individuals make posts that hold up the speshul snowflake who was rejected by New York and doesn’t believe in editing their opus as an example of us all, and if they mention the professionals at all, it’s in a dismissive “oh they’re flukes or outliers” kind of way that wholly denigrates everything we hope to achieve. They use language that perpetuates the stereotype and look to the comments of agreement by other traditional-hopefuls as “proof” that they’re right–even though they didn’t take the time to research the topic they’re talking about. It’s the ignorant leading the ignorant. I can think of 6 posts I’ve read in the last 2 weeks that fall into this category.
Do the speshul snowflakes outnumber us? Hell yes. But that’s not limited to self publishing. Take a dive into any editor’s or agent’s slush pile and you’ll see obscene quantities of the same. There are thousands upon thousands of people who think they can write a book because they don’t know the truth–that writing professionally is freaking HARD WORK.
So I issue a challenge to anybody out there in blogland who wants to talk about self publishing. PRESENT A BALANCED ARGUMENT. You wanna talk about the speshul snowflakes, FINE. They exist, and I won’t deny it. But do your research and show some of the examples of all the hard working indie authors who are DOING THE WORK, BEING PROFESSIONAL, who are GOOD EXAMPLES of everything the indie movement hopes to be. That will go a whole lot further to help eradicate the prejudice surrounding self publishing, and might actually inspire some of those speshul snowflakes to join us. It doesn’t threaten anybody who still wants to be on the traditional path. What we want has nothing to do with you. Our dreams are not necessarily your dreams. And that doesn’t lessen what you want OR what we want. But by God, recognize that though we are a smaller group, we’re growing and stop insulting us by pretending the good ones don’t really exist.