Monday, December 04, 2017

Water Under The Bridge

Last week a reader took a fierce dislike to a writing colleague's latest crime novel and told her so on Twitter. It was an all out, prolonged attack. My colleague was left stunned and bewildered. This was not a normal reader disliking said novel for whatever reason, which is perfectly fair in writing – after all, we can't please all of the readers all of the time. No, my colleague was being trolled. Trolls are nasty people who abuse their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, or by creating tension and anger between others. I sympathised. I've only been trolled once. As soon as I realised what was happening, I blocked the troll and heard no more from her or her friends. I tried not to let the experience bother me. But while I know sticks and stones may hurt my bones and names will never hurt me, the experience left me feeling anxious and sick. But then survival mode kicked in. No troll was going to stop me doing what I wanted to do. My writer's thick skin got that bit thicker. If there was a next time, I would be ready. As we've talked about on this blog already, writing is not for the faint-hearted and trolling seems to be just one more thing we writers have to learn to endure on the emotional Rocky Road to writing success. When I think of the writer's journey, I often think of the New Guinea pidgin expression throwim way leg. I used to hear it a lot when I lived in Papua New Guinea – I told you I worked in Papua New Guinea for a few years, didn't I? The phrase literally means to throw your leg away and start walking. I always chuckle when I hear the phrase. It sounds so innocuous and downright silly. However, in reality it is anything but. Throwim way leg actually means to take the first step into the unknown and on what would very probably be a long and very hazardous journey.

You see, New Guinea is after Greenland the world's largest island and home to 1000 languages, that's one-sixth of the world's total – pidgin is one of the three most spoken languages between the various tribes. The topography of New Guinea is so rugged that until the arrival of aircraft, tribes in adjacent valleys were often completely isolated. Just a few generations ago some of the peoples in the highlands of Papua New Guinea mounted well planned raids on villages, kidnapping children and killing and even eating their parents. Yes, I said eating! You can imagine, going on a journey was a fearful, perilous thing, rarely done. It meant abandoning the safety of your village, putting yourself at risk, without knowing where the journey would lead or if you would ever return to the safety of your village. 


At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I think we writers emotionally throwim way leg when we embark on a career in writing. We have no idea where it will lead us and the trip is full of pot holes, distractions, dangers, disappointments frustrations and trolls! We will probably never return to the warm, cosy comfort of the life we had before becoming a writer, at the same time there is absolutely no guarantee we will ever get to the promised land of “making it big”. But for some of us, as we've also said on this blog before, there is nothing we'd rather do. We meet lots of lovely people on the way and have the enormous satisfaction of knowing that total strangers all over the world are reading our stories and enjoying them. And, yes, while we writers may have to put up with trolls when we embark on our writing journey, at least there is very little chance we will get eaten. Trolls? They're water under the bridge.

Have you ever been trolled? 


Sybil Johnson said...

What an interesting post. I haven't been trolled...yet. Such horrible people, those trolls. I always wonder if they don't have something better to do with their time.

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Yes, Sybil, I think trolls must lead very empty lives and be emotionally disturbed to direct their rage at strangers.

Donis Casey said...

What an inspirational blog! I've always said writer's have to have the hide of a rhinoceros if they want to maintain their sanity.

Eileen Goudge said...

Great post. It sent a shiver down my spine. Knock on wood, I’ve never been trolled. But I worry nonetheless. Whatever happens, I’ll keep doing what I do. Love the New Guinea expression. I’ll remember that for next time I’m hit with something.

Arthur Kerns said...

Wonderful blog you posted. Writers have to contend with these trolls and move on, thank goodness they are so few. Been to New Guinea, but can't say I heard that expression. Thanks for sharing.

Rick Blechta said...

I have been trolled, twice now, and it's not a pleasant experience. If you count ridiculously bad reviews on Amazon, I'm up to five.

Yes, I think trolls are emotionally disturbed. They're the same as the bullying kids you run across in your youth. It's basically a power trip.

You did the correct thing, Marianne by blocking this person. It's really the only way to deal with it. Trying to reason with them only gives them validity and more oxygen.

It's a nasty thing for sure!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Thanks kindly for comments, people. Just in case you are interested, and just for fun (and you will probably know this already, Arthur) in Pidgin English Prince Charles is called "nambawan pikinini bilong misis kwin" - which means "the number one child belonging to Mrs Queen". It always makes me chuckle.

PS Arthur, where were you in New Guinea? We lived in East New Britain for three years, just outside Rabaul. In fact my daughter was born in the mission hospital not far from Rabaul at Vunapope (which means place of the Pope!).

Arthur Kerns said...

A few years ago I spent two weeks in Port Moresby inspecting the US embassy. Didn't get out in the bush. Would have liked to have done some birding. Sounds like you and your family had quite an adventure.