for writers...when the rainbow gets to be too much

Another case of a writer blowing off steam in the wrong venue has come across my feed. Angry fans are angry, and penitent author is penitent, perhaps too late, but that's what happens sometimes. Although the post has been deleted, hard feelings will remain for a while, I'm afraid.

I'm not saying which author had the latest meltdown or where I saw the flash, this is not about author shaming. I'm telling you that I understand the individual's feelings even if I didn't appreciate the way those feelings were stated.

Everyone thinks writers are living the dream, and in many ways, we are. Some of us are making money from work that we enjoy doing. There is a lot of stress, through, don't let anyone tell you different. Stress is an inevitable by-product of any job. For writers, most of whom have day jobs and other responsibilities other than writing, it can really be crushing at times.

The author who snapped off a reply at fans isn't the first that I've seen, nor will that individual be the last, I'm sure. I've seen this kind of thing happen before: fans are clamoring for an authors' stories, and then one day, a deadline is missed, or a favorite coffee mug is broken, a bad review is thrown across the feed--it's rarely a huge thing. Then the same question comes from a fan one time too many, and bang: angry words are written and posted to a public forum.

The rainbow should be enough, but sometimes it isn't. Safety-valves are necessary.

Get off-line is the first recommendation most will give. Exercise, take care of you and try never to respond in anger. Silence is preferable to a sharp retort when it can be avoided. Come back when you're feeling more tolerant. All these things are good advice and given by pros all the time.

But often, we forget the best way to blow off steam is with people who understand. I think it is very important for any author to have and maintain a support network of other authors. I have two authors with whom I communicate on a regular basis, especially when I'm feeling frazzled and at my wit's end. One always says: I will come and sit with you in your tub of hate; and the other says: Yes, but you know that might not be so bad, because ....

I need both of them equally. They are my friends and my support. I can say anything to them and know they will not mention my thoughts to a soul. They have been known to help me temper my words, and I am forever grateful for their help.

[As a side note: I hope they are saving those emails. One day, they'll be able to publish a memoir entitled What We Really Thought.]

In addition to those friends, I belong to two closed Facebook groups composed entirely of authors. There I can ask questions, or discuss reviews that bother me and find others who commiserate with their own horror stories. We make each other laugh and the groups provide a safe haven to blow off a little steam. Authors need that too.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter are the places where I love to interact with my fans, and the people that I like. I want them to see the best of me, or at the very least, the best that I can be in that particular moment.

But sometimes the rainbow gets to be too much. In those dark hours, I seek shelter with my friends, and they save me. Every time.