For the sake of those not interested in LotR fandom issues, extensive rant you're not interested in follows this. Read on at your own risk of boredom, exasperation, whatever.
You know, under normal circumstances, I'm a pretty easy-going person. I work hard to avoid drama in just about any form, try to make a point of not taking sides in kerfluffles among my Internet friends, and generally preach a message of "live and let live." I honestly believe that one should live by one's principles, even in this "second life" that we all lead here in cyberspace - if one espouses "Do unto others", then one's behavior toward one's neighbors needs to demonstrate exactly what one expects to come back at one. It's a simple, probably idealistic belief, but it is one that I hold dear and which has influenced some of my public actions.
It is influencing this post today.
As a fan fiction writer - hell, as a writer in general - I know how valuable feedback and ego-strokes are. Writing is, by its very nature, a very lonely pastime/occupation; validation through feedback, reviews, peer-run awards programs - especially in the world of fan fiction - are essentially the only "pay" we get. Thus it is that I expect the contests that I participate in to be run fairly, objectively, without bias toward or against any writer or group of writers. I expect these contests to be about the quality of the writing, and absolutely nothing more.
Believing this, I participated in the MEFAs this year - both as a reviewer and as a nominated author - and found the awards process very revealing, run exceedingly fairly, and the results satisfying. With that in mind, I noted that another award event had started its nominations season, and I threw myself into nominating some of the stories I really felt met the criteria posted by the awards admin.
As you can imagine, I expect that my nominations to any awards event would be treated with respect: added to the pile submitted by others, and then voted on by the various members. But, it seemed, I had fallen victim to a serious case of false advertising. The Golden Quill Awards, which portrayed itself as "open to anybody," is most definitely not open to just anybody. The administrator, WendWriter, has decided that only those people she approves of can (1) be nominated; or (2) participate.
I was finally made aware of this inconvenient truth when I received an email (copies of which I will forward without hesitation to anyone who asks for it) which said, in part:
"certain people will be excluded from the awards because I refuse to reward people who behave abusively towards me. I don't want to make this public, so I simply deleted the post you made about him.
It's not fair to involve you, so I won't go into detail about the whys and wherefores.
I will say that if I see nominations for Nieriel Raina, Ignoble Bard, or Aislynn Crowdaughter, I'll delete those, too.
Sorry to drop this on you, you didn't know.
I hope that doesn't put you off nominating other people. I get along fine with everyone else.
I hope you're not upset by this."
Now, this email refers to a story I nominated by Thranduil Oropherion Redux, which I thought was exquisitely written, poignant and funny. I had also nominated brilliant stories by Nieriel Raina, Thundera Tiger, Jael, Linda Hoyland, and Virtuella. It seems, however, that only the stories by Thundera Tiger, Linda Hoyland, and Virtuella were allowed to remain. All of the others have been summarily deleted.
Because, evidently, the administrator "doesn't like them" (the authors).
And why doesn't she like them?
She doesn't like them because they "behave abusively towards me."
Is she transparent about this? Does she turn around and make it a point to let anybody else wanting to participate in the awards process know that her personal grievances with certain people will prevent some nominations from going through? You know, to save herself from having to write more similar emails?
No. "I don't want to make this public, so I simply deleted the post you made about him."
I don't know about anybody reading this, but I find it the height of hypocrisy to climb on a high horse about some people who "behave abusively", only to turn around and not only abuse them in return, but in the process abuse anybody with the temerity to actually read and enjoy their writings enough to nominate them. This is a very clear-cut case of "Do as I say, not as I do." And what is more, she apparently knows how bad what she's doing would look were it known publicly, because she attempts to do it behind the scenes. She deletes perfectly legitimate nominations with impunity.
One might wonder if the list of "not approved" authors is longer than the one she gave me? I note that Jael's name was not on the list of "abusive" people - and yet her nomination was deleted as well.
How many more emails similar to this one is she writing? What does this say about the respect that she gives me as a reader and potential participant in her awards program? What does this say about the respect she gives ANYBODY, for that matter?
Oh yes, let us not forget that it's unfair to involve me, so she won't tell me anything about the situation or her criteria for exclusion, and she hopes I'm not upset. Well. If you're still reading this, you probably figured out by now that I AM upset! VERY upset. By her deleting my nominations, I have been dragged into a personal grudge match in which I had no previous stake, and I'm now involved in a very personal manner. Needless to say, I deeply resent it.
I don't give a damn about who has done what to whom. It had and continues to have absolutely nothing to do with me, and therefore, in my opinion, has absolutely no business being brought up in an awards event. I'm all about the writing. Every other awards event I've ever participated in before this has been all about the writing.
Evidently Golden Quills is not. It is, in fact, revealed to be a poorly-disguised excuse to abuse certain people in a back-handed manner and to go about it in an underhanded fashion, making those who have no part in any quarrel implicit in the abuse.
I do NOT appreciate anybody going through and cherry-picking which of my nominations she approves of and deleting all others, no matter how privileged that person feels they might be – not in an awards process that is publicized as being "open to anybody," which at its essence implies fairness and objectivity. She has just broken the trust of an innocent (and unsuspecting) participant who only wanted to give the authors of some of her favorite stories another place to shine.
And so I am hereby announcing my intention to no longer participate in this farce in any manner.
To those I nominated whose nominations were allowed to stand, I apologize that you are being involved in this as well. It honestly is not my doing. I sincerely hope that (1) those nominations I made for your stories continue to stand, considering that I'm bringing out into the light of day something that WendWriter, as administrator, is trying desperately to keep swept quietly under a rug; and (2) that being the case, that you folks win. You deserve it. If any other, more legitimate award comes along for which your story qualifies, you can be assured I will make certain you are in the running.
To Nieriel Raina, Jael, and Thranduil Oropherion Redux, my deepest and most sincere apologies. I thought I was doing you folks a favor and giving your stories another chance to shine, and I ended up enabling an abuser to continue her campaign of abuse through me.
I didn't know. I do now. I wish I didn't. I hate this.
For what it's worth, and for the record, this will be posted on the Archives of Excellence LiveJournal community. If you do not see it there, you will know for a fact that WendWriter deleted the post. I leave you to form your own conclusions about that.
And finally, to WendWriter: this is open notice that I will be posting this exposé and denunciation in every public venue I have access to, so your attempts to sweep this under the rug by deleting it from the AoE community are doomed from the start. In fact, by deleting it, you will only be proving my point for me.
Enjoy your spotlight.