Am I a whiny attention whore?

I had no idea. But this author thinks so.

Really, it’s the sort of charge that makes me reel back in surprise that they’re talking about me. I didn’t realize that the mere act of blogging makes one an attention whore. If so, then there are a lot of us out here.

It also brings up, once again, the dangers of blogging — and another reason to walk away from it. (Even though you have to admit it’s rather amusing that the charge comes from a blogger who accuses others of being attention whores for blogging.)

(To my readers: Please don’t respond at the site. I don’t need any more negative attention.)

I bring it up only because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about privacy — or the lack of it — when one is a writer. It’s true that there are downsides to blogging. Every time you express an opinion, you’ll find someone with the opposite opinion ready to jump in and argue. Every time you reveal a bit of your personal life, you’ll also open yourself up to charges of harboring delusions of grandeur, believing that anyone cares.

Blogging for me has never been about being onstage. It’s always been about loving to talk about the business and the craft. And sometimes personal stuff slips in because it’s relevant to those topics. Bad reviews, for instance, can impact my personal life — and can affect my ability to write. Yes, that’s a personal detail. But it’s also about how our emotional state impacts upon the craft.

I don’t think you can blog about the business, or the creative aspect of writing, without revealing a little about your own personality. Which, according to some, makes you an attention whore.

And for the record, I have never called upon my readers to defend me against reviewers, mean bloggers, or anyone else. I invite anyone to comb through my blog archives to look for a single instance where I asked my readers to do so. Yes, I sometimes express my distress about bad reviews — and my readers choose to say what they want to say.

They do, after all, have control of their own keyboards.

(If you’d like to read my so-called “whiny” blog post to which the article refers, it’s here. It’s from 2007)

——–

Check out my post over at Murderati: When fiction veers too close to reality.

34 replies
  1. Abe
    Abe says:

    Tess,

    Some people are just having fun. I personally like the interaction and the knowledge that someone read what you’ve written and has something to say – good or bad – about it. Next, who the hell is Josephine Damian? The only thing I agree with her is this – “These days, writers invite personal involvement and intensity from their readers.” Isn’t that what a writer wants from her readers? Involvement and intensity? It’s a give and take world, Josephine. If you don’t like it, get out of the business. Oh, and by the way, Josephine, marketing is not prostitution. Lack of ethics is.

  2. caite
    caite says:

    Aren’t all writers to some degree attention whores. After all, you do want people to read what you write. Buy it, read it, love it.
    Now I just write my wee little blog, and I will totally admit that I am an attention whore. I want people to read it, I want them to enjoy it. I count the comments and used to frequently check the number of visitors to my blog. Until I realized that I had better stop and get dressed and leave the house sometime.

    But I certainly don’t consider you whiny!
    😉

  3. Tess
    Tess says:

    Caite,
    yes, it’s certainly hard NOT to seem like an attention whore, simply because one writes books that a lot of people may want to read. I spend most of my days just sitting alone in my office, not wanting to see anyone. I get antsy at parties and feel uncomfortable being the center of attention. But the nature of the business (selling books to lots of people) means that an author’s name is out there — and it means getting attention that the author may not always welcome!

  4. RichZ
    RichZ says:

    Tess,

    Publishing a blog doesn’t make you a whining attention whore. This is good for Ms. Damian as Blogger shows her to have 7 blogs, albeit most apparently inactive. (Twitter users, however, *are* attention whores. ;-p Just say no to tweets.)

    I do think you take internet commentators way too seriously. Do you really care what an unpublished would-be author thinks?

  5. joliehale
    joliehale says:

    I’ve been reading both your blog and Josephine’s for many months now, and I have to say I was surprised to see her say that. I’m glad to hear you debunk the assertion that you’ve asked your readers to jump to your defense. I’m sure there are authors who do that, and it’s not classy.

    Josephine’s a sharp woman, and I enjoy a lot of what she has to say, but I definitely don’t always agree with her. From what I’ve read on her blog, I think she has a strong sense of what is and isn’t good for her as an artist and a professional, and I usually get the impression that she thinks other writers operate the same way (or that they should).

    The biggest thing I’ve learned from my time in the blogosphere is that everybody works differently, and you just have to know yourself and figure out what’s best for you.

  6. Tess
    Tess says:

    jolie,
    I don’t know where that lie (that I’ve asked my readers to attack others) came from. I think it probably goes back to a tongue-in-cheek blog I wrote about an author who did just that — and ever since then, people have confused me with that particular writer. Or think I’ve done the same thing.

    I think what startled me about Jospehine’s blog was her telling me and other writers to “STFU.” Is that how writers now speak to each other?

  7. spyscribbler
    spyscribbler says:

    Tess,

    You blog. You shouldn’t need to justify it or provide an explanation for why. It’s not like you’re chasing people down and forcing them to listen to you.

    Across the board, I’m just tired of judgmentalism. In politics, in religion, in wherever. If someone isn’t hurting anyone else and that someone is living their life the way they want to, why can’t people just let the someones be happy? Why do they care so much that the someones be publicly judged, or that the someones buy into their politics/religion/sexuality? That’s what I just don’t understand.

    I wish everyone would let the someones live their lives in peace.

  8. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    Tess-I hardly think an attention whore would appear at places like local libraries to speak with some readers and tell extremely interesting stories about the bcakground of the books.Who is Josephine Damian?She sounds like she ought to hang out with Patrick Anderson.Most of your blog entries are very interesting,or amusing,like the one with you and the donkeys.
    Your “creepy biological facts”series was great.
    Tess-don’t obsess over the opinions of people who have no direct part in your life.
    I guess having spent a long time in law enforcement and being called things I cannot repeat here on a frequent basis kind of inured me to meaningless criticism.
    Actually it reinforced my opinion that I was doing the job right.
    I get the idea that you enjoy interacting with readers-WTF is wrong with that?

  9. Nonny
    Nonny says:

    I’m going to say again: I enjoy your blogging, both here and at Murderati. 🙂

    I suspect the “attention whore” comment has more to do with the very prevalent idea that writers should never talk about negative reviews. Ever. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.

    Even if you address issues that reviewers had with your work, in the abstract without mentioning the reviewer by name — there are people that will get pissed off beyond all belief. How DARE you open your mouth about a review? How DARE you try to explain your side?

    Having read your posts about reviews, they have always been calm, to-the-point, and offered clarified reasons as to why a reader might have thought such, or why the book might not have gone well in the current climate.

    Yes, some people will see that as attention-whoring. Because, along with the litany of other writer stereotypes, we also aren’t supposed to complain. We’re published, right? We should just suck it up and deal, right?

    Speaking as an author here, I ignore reviews 99% of the time. If someone misrepresents or misconstrues what I’m trying to say, I will clarify because I feel that’s my obligation to readers.

    Guess I’ll be an “attention whore” someday, too. At least I’ll be in good company. 🙂

  10. jtmillsny
    jtmillsny says:

    Tess,

    I think it’s incredibly ridiculous that this woman has the nerve to call you an attention whore!! Your blogs are always informative and intriguing, not shiny pieces of propaganda striving to unite us fans for the purpose of good reviews. We write what we please, and if you mention a negative review once and a while, it just shows that you live in the realm of reality with the rest of us.

    I think this blogger is just jealous of the success you’ve found. If you go on and read farther into her blog, she cannot even spell the word ‘euphemism’ correctly. This woman is obviously the one whoring for attention for her books that can’t even get published by a major publisher. I pity her in that she’s forced to stir up controversy just to get some attention to her work…

    PS: How dare she call yours and Ms. Cornwell’s latest works ‘sh*tty’?!

  11. Lilly
    Lilly says:

    You can blog as much as you want – and write long articles about your private life. in the end nobody knows how much you’re saying and how much you keep secret as nobody really knows what goes on in your REAL life. You have the control.

    Nearly everyone is blogging. As long as people are interested it’s pretty nice, isn’t it?
    This Josephine – I never heard of her before and will ignore her in future – is frustrated in some way.
    Nobody would ever blame others for things they do themselves, if they’re all comfortable with their life.

    Well, sorry for my English. I’m German.

  12. therese
    therese says:

    Now the post a Murderati, that gives me chills!

    Writers want to connect with readers, that’s why they write books. Your blogs are not only for promotion of your books but an added connection with readers. They’re informative and enjoyable.

    In WEB world – there are searches that will let a user get notified of specific terms. Maybe this author felt mentioning your name in her blog would generate more attention to herself. If so, who’s desperate for the attention?

  13. Kyle K.
    Kyle K. says:

    One of my favorite blogs is http://www.dooce.com. The author’s name is Heather Armstrong and she has been blogging throughout the past five or so years, including her pregnancy, her severe depression afterwards, and the past four years of her daughter’s life. She talks about being a mom and a wife and a “professional blogger” – her site gets so much traffic that she and her husband can live off its ad revenue, VERY COMFORTABLY…

    She has helped hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of women around the world, letting them know that motherhood isn’t always flowers and candyland, that they weren’t alone with the feelings they were/are struggling with. She’s also incredibly smart, unbelievable SARCASTIC and CYNICAL (which I ADORE!), and just an all around good person. Yet she still gets hatemail, and people bitching about her “exposing her daughter for financial gain”, whatever that means.

    People will find anything about anyone to complain about. You have helped so many of us out here, that this woman could never be the writer/blogger/mentor that you are. She’s obviously got some severe chip on her shoulder, and she’s taking it out on you. Whatever her reasoning behind the insults, remember us and how we feel about you.

    I’d say the scales are DEFINITELY tipped in your direction. And we’re not budging!

  14. Jnantz
    Jnantz says:

    Ms. Gerritsen,
    Most of what I’d like to say has been said quite eloquently by those above. So I’ll simply lend my support and say, “**** ’em if they can’t take it.” Be yourself, keep blogging about the topics that interest you, because they interest all of us, and don’t let anyone else’s warped opinion of you get you down. We love your books and your blog, and if she doesn’t, then let her steer clear of it.

    Oh, and rock on.

  15. caite
    caite says:

    I think there is a difference between wanting attention for your work, for what you create, for your ideas, which is totally justified, and wanting personal attention. Sure some writers, like some people of any profession, want personal attention. And many do not. Which, for me as a reader, is fine. I can certainly understand wanting attention for your work…and not really for yourself.
    I’ll just be over here in the corner..

    I have read…and I think it was in one of your posts on Murderati Tess.. that publishers push their authors to ‘be out there’. Blog, be on the social web sites, twitter. Personally, I am not at all convinced it does any good for sales, but even if it makes you uncomfortable, can you really refuse to do it? I would think that would be hard.

  16. Shoshana
    Shoshana says:

    You’ve arrive Ms. Tess. I think some people feel superior if they can only put somebody down, feel witty when they are vicious to someone else. There’s nothing to be done about it. That said…it must be disturbing. I’m imagining it…and since I tend to feel things personally, it will be hard to avoid hurt feelings.

    My husband used to say, if a two years old you do not know said that same thing to you…would you care? I probably won’t. It will be amusing then.

  17. BernardL
    BernardL says:

    As a professional writer you have to make sure your name is everywhere possible. Very few writers can pull off the hermit image and make their publishers happy.

  18. ec
    ec says:

    I disagree with caite’s contention (comment #2) that “all writers are attention whores.”

    There seems to be a wide-spread assumption that writers and musicians do what they do for the audience. Many of the writers I know are private, some borderline agorophobic. Loving books and stories, to the point of spending your life creating them, is a profoundly private act. Yes, writers hope people will read our books, because that’s how we make a living. I also ran into this attitude a lot when I was an active musician. Some people assume you perform for the attention, but for just about every musician I ever met, it was all about the music.

    As for “whining about bad reviews,” fantasy writer Pat Rothfuss recently posted an interesting observation about writers’ reactions to a such things. He likened a bad review to a turd in a bowl of cereal. The cereal might be yummy and fruity and sugar coated, but you just can’t eat around the turd. Yes, that’s disgusting, but it does a good job of depicting circumstances in which a singular negative can overwhelm the positive.

  19. ec
    ec says:

    How people respond to writers’ online personas says far more about them than it does the writer. I could never envision the Tess Gerritsen who writes this blog calling another writer a “whining attention whore.” That, in and of itself, would be sufficient reason for me to continue reading her blog and her books, and to continue avoiding Ms. Damian’s.

  20. Roberto Nogueira
    Roberto Nogueira says:

    Tess,
    I simply can’t keep calm reading the crap this woman wrote. Calling you names and bashing your work and this lie about you asking your fans to defend you. Ha! She has twitter, myspace, blog-this, blog-that, wtfblog…
    She is the one looking for attention and YOU gave it to her. Nobody ever heard about this woman before, now because of your post lots of people will know about her. That’s what she was looking for. It’s sad to say, but you let her use you. Don’t waste your time on these people again.
    Keep blogging if you want to, keep writing if you feel willing and able to, but don’t give these kind of person the attention they don’t deserve.

  21. Rhonda Lane
    Rhonda Lane says:

    Me thinks someone (not you) was looking for search engine hits for his blog. Nothing draws online browsers like dropping famous names.

    Besides, why now? Why accuse you of that now? You haven’t deployed us for many, many months. (Just kidding. I really hope that made you smile. Sounds like you could use a grin.)

    Besides, your blog is about being an NYT best-selling author. And that it ain’t all swanky parties, town cars and seven-figure deals, like we see on TV’s Castle. It includes the slings and arrows of being in the public eye, which is necessary these days for business.

  22. cmwebb
    cmwebb says:

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog and your books. I hope you won’t let someone’s negative posts (looks like envy to me) deprive us of your blog.

  23. Autumn Anderson
    Autumn Anderson says:

    Your blog, and your books are a blessing. Your writing unique, mind expanding. I find it funny…jealousy can get the best of us, allowing us to take measures to try to degrade or inflict verbal wounds on others…as did the “blogger” who made the uneducated comment that belongs, quite simply, in the trash.

    The good news you lost one reader who did not, does not deserve to enjoy your craft…it seems there is only one “attention whore” in this situation.

    Well, I am off to blog myself, in search of more “attention” 🙂

  24. danielsellers
    danielsellers says:

    Ignore her. Maybe she’s a bit jealous, that’s all. Don’t give her any satisfaction by showing a reaction. My advice would be to breeze on by and keep smiling.

  25. BernardL
    BernardL says:

    I should have checked more than her blog to begin with. If she has authored anything other than book reviews I have been unable to find them. She is on My Space, Twitter, and Facebook along with her blog. It would appear she has a healthy appetite for attention herself.

  26. wendy roberts
    wendy roberts says:

    I did not jump over to the blog to see who the ridiculous blogger is because I certainly don’t want to drive up her stats. I’m dumbfounded by people who make these kinds of charges. When you’re in the spotlight as a novelist a certain amount of promo is not only expected it’s demanded. Blogging is a relaxed way of reaching your public and is appreciated by your fans. To call any author an attention whore reminds me of what my grandfather used to say…if you point one finger at someone else, you have 3 more pointing back at yourself.

  27. IServeTheCat
    IServeTheCat says:

    I stayed up until 2 am last night baking bread. While fighting my eyes, I decided to watch a little TV on the internet. There’s a new show called Castle about a writer and a cop. In the pilot episode, it *appears* that an obsessed fan is copying murders from the writer’s book. (Thank God the methods you used in Keepsake would be virtually impossible to duplicate.)

    Once upon a time, Stephen King wrote a book about an obsessed fan. They made a movie out of that one, too.

    I was a shut-in for a little over a year, and I wasn’t a famous novelist. I can totally understand you not wanting to be “out there” all the time.

    As a writer, it’s pretty obvious what your “vent” would be. Karate, right? No, seriously. Everyone gets frustrated with life, work, and rabid weasels. What is wrong with a writer who, I dunno, WRITES about the things that frustrate her? You can do it in the privacy of your own home. If anyone is reading it, it’s because they care.

    In Ms. Damian’s case, perhaps it is jealousy. No one knows who she is. Lots of people know who you are. Last time you had blog drama, you took off. We love you, so we waited. And we will wait again if you need a break after this blog drama.

    My sleep-deprived point is that as long as you are happy, keep on doing what you do. If your outlet for frustrations about life, work, or ninja donkeys is posting interesting blogs for your fans to read, then keep on writing! If it causes you more stress, then stop. Either way, we will still be here, ready to buy your next book and read your next creepy biological fact.

  28. Tess
    Tess says:

    Thank you all so much for the comments. I never quite understand the motives when a blogger attacks someone they’ve never met, who’s never offended them. Then again, there are people who are so easily offended that they probably go through life angry and antagonistic. Not the sort of people one wants to hang out with, either online or in reality.

  29. wrrriter
    wrrriter says:

    Tess, anyone who quits blogging altogether, much to the chagrin of her regular readers, can hardly be called an “attention whore.” I, too, don’t understand the attacks. It happened to me, and I still don’t get it.

    Ray

  30. Tess
    Tess says:

    Ray, that’s just CRAZY. Your blog is one of the best sites on writing that I’ve ever visited, and I can’t imagine why anyone would attack you.

  31. Tess
    Tess says:

    p.s. I should mention that Ray’s site is FLOGGING THE QUILL, and he has a new book out about the craft of writing.

  32. maatlockk
    maatlockk says:

    She has a MySpace page AND she’s on Twitter. Never take people who have MySpace pages (especially at that age) seriously.

    No one is forcing her to read your blog, anyways, so I don’t get why she’s complaining.

    We defend you because we love you Tess. And she’s only griping about it because she wishes that she had a loyal fanbase like you.

    p/s
    what was her name again? Talk about obscure. I’ve only ever heard about her when I read this post. Hah!

  33. maatlockk
    maatlockk says:

    pp/s

    She should take her own advice and STFU. Maybe then her writing will progress and be half as good as yours. …when pigs fly and wear green tutus.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply