One Person’s Perception Is Another Author’s Folly
Posted on March 16, 2015
Perception is a fickle thing. I perceive a great many bad movies from the 1980s as being very good, yet others have the exact opposite reaction. I perceive my husband’s grandmother to be the source of much evil in the world, only he loves her. Readers perceive authors as all getting along, yet we don’t. We perceive ourselves as likeable, and then someone comes forward and informs us we aren’t. I try to be and I know my fellow authors try to be, too, but we aren’t going to be able to please every perception out there and that can be a tough lesson to learn. Heck, I was unfriended on Facebook a couple of weeks ago by someone for using two words. Yes. Two words.
It’s a nickname I have for my husband and what I sometimes used to refer to him as in social media and blog posts. It might even be said that I have a cast of characters in my life who I refer to in my posts. There’s his grandmother, my brother-in-Law, and his fiancé. I also had my Father-In-Law-Who-Doesn’t-Know-He’s-My-Father-In-Law. They roll off the tongue (and fingertips) and are pretty easy to remember.
This particular individual objected to the nickname I use for my husband:
“Now about the use of the expression ‘Honorable Husband’. Stop. Please just stop it. It is ridiculous and, to me, rather offensive on the same level as if you continued to use ‘coloreds’ to describe black people: both expressions were created by white people in the 1940’s in order to promote divisiveness between white people and everyone who ISN’T white. As a lifelong Asian person, I can guarantee you that there is absolutely no such expression such as ‘HH’ that any Asian person has ever used in any Asian language that might have somehow got translated into a Charlie Chan movie script that worked its way into our lexicon. I cringe everytime I see it or hear it used, as it carries the same weight as ‘Chink’ or ‘Nigger’ with me. I can only imagine how much worse this practice of yours would be, had you married someone like Tiger Woods.”
“He’s fine with the pet name, and if he’s fine with it, that’s good enough for me. You should hear some of his names for me. lol Can’t say I’ve watched any Charlie Chan films… No interest, actually. And of the friends I have who happen to be Asian, you are the first to ever suggest you find the term offensive. Not to say you don’t find if offensive. If you say you do, then you do. But you’re the only one and unless my husband were to find it equally offensive, which he doesn’t, I’m not willing to change saying it for one online friend.”
And with that, I was unfriended, which is fine. I’m actually okay with it. The bizarre thing is he clicked on “Follow” after he unfriended me because, apparently, he still wanted to read my posts. If my posts bothered him that much, why would he still want to read them? We can’t please everybody and if it really offended him, then he did the right thing. I’m not going to change how I do or say something for one person. Now had multiple people come forward, I’d have taken a closer look at the issue.
I have an author friend who was recently told she was perceived as a “pretentious bitch” while another told her an author friend of theirs hates her. Yes, hates. Strong word and a crappy word at that. Why pretentious? Because she has an assistant and—are you ready for this?—mentions him. As a reader of this friend’s posts, she and her assistant are more best friends than anything. They have an incredible affection for each other, Platonically, but she does hire him to help take care of things she isn’t able to. So he is, in fact, her assistant. My perception is there’s nothing pretentious about it or her posts that mention him, but, again, there’s at least one person out there who feels differently.
On the subject of another author hating her, it seems to be more of a professional discord than anything else. Sometimes it can’t be helped. Hell, I can count two authors right off the top of my head who ‘hate’ me. One I won’t address, and the other? I didn’t really leave room for it to go any other way after I wrote a blog post informing folks how said author was e-mailing people and offering to write glowing Amazon reviews for them in exchange for a review while only reading the back cover of each other’s books.
My perception is he didn’t appreciate that. His perception is I thought he was a douche bag.
And, in this case, he was right.
Anybody out there ever deal with incorrect perceptions? How did you overcome them or did you simply accept them?
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
21 Responses to “One Person’s Perception Is Another Author’s Folly”
March 16, 2015 at 8:40 am
I call my dad ‘Grand Poo Ba Pa Pa’ and my mom ‘Grand Moo Ma Ma Ma’ (said in a sing song tone). My parents are more ‘fun’ than just Grandpa and Grandma and they love the specialization of their names. If anyone is offended by that I would offer you need to 1) lighten up and/or 2) stop paying so much attention to what and how other people live their lives. Life is too short for me to be bothered with your idiocity (is that a word?).
JP Barnaby says:
March 16, 2015 at 8:49 am
Anyone who knows you knows that you do this with a lot of people, not just your beloved. It cracks me up that you call my ex boyfriend He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I’m sorry that the guy was offended, honestly. There are a lot of things that people say on social media that bother me, some are things people wouldn’t even place on the same plane as offensive, but they bother me.
Readers may not see this, but as an author we are in the public eye. Always. I don’t mention my nieces by name, I don’t post their pictures, I’m vague on exactly where “outside Chicago” I live. There are unstable people in all walks of life – our little corner of the world included.
Keep yourself safe. Keep him safe. Everything else is secondary. <3
Dorien Grey says:
March 16, 2015 at 8:51 am
My attitude is that when someone starts paying my rent, they might have some small degree of influence over what I do or say publicly. Until then, I have other things to concern myself with.
March 16, 2015 at 9:37 am
I think you summed that up beautifully, D.
Matt Ortiz says:
March 16, 2015 at 9:17 am
I call my husband Tim “Muffin”. Have for several years to the point he answers to it. One time at Publix, I got out of the truck ready for a boring grocery run with him and he was dithering as he got out of the passenger side. I hollered out. “Come on Muffin, day’s a wasting.” A guy walking by snickered. I didn’t think anything of it. Some might find it offensive but that’s their issue. People can suffer from too much offensibility! My word. To them, I say “I’m sorry, do you see concern for you written on my forehead? Let me wipe that off!”
March 16, 2015 at 9:36 am
LOVE that last bit about wiping it off their forehead! lol There are times the hubs and I are out and about and he’s rushing me or being a bit of a tyrant. That’s when I start answering him with “Yes, my little basket of fire-breathing black widow spiders,” or “yes, my little nest of vipers,” or “yes, my Khan.” People can tell all too easily we’re together and it doesn’t bother me a bit.
Patricia Logan says:
March 16, 2015 at 11:12 am
I don’t use any pet names for my Persian husband of 29 years, though several come to mind, usually when I’m mad at him for some reason. We do affectionately refer to his toupee as his Persian rug however. My mother called my father pet names all the time. Mr. Fixit, Mr. Know-it-all… etc. She generally made the name fit the circumstance and my father always knew it was done with great affection and anyone who took offense to it, well… that was too bad.
Apparently the person who objected to you calling your husband HH, doesn’t know you well and if they did, they’d understand the affection couched in those two words. Sorry if he, as an Asian person, was offended by it, but that’s life. In addition, he has his facts wrong about “coloreds” as well. The term did not originate in the 1940’s. It originated much earlier than that but we’re spitting hairs. I just wanted to point out that he is not the ultimate authority on it. I can also say that I am sure our mutual friend Momo can come up with some spectacular names for him. She’s good at that sort of thing *snicker*
March 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm
Oh, heck. I even have a few nicknames for your husband based on things you’ve told me. lol I won’t mention them here, though. I’m polite like that.
Princess S.O. says:
March 16, 2015 at 11:29 am
I can’t imagine why someone would put ‘Honorable Husband’ in the same category as hate words, but if that is truly how they feel than perhaps they need to spend some time delving deeper into their own minds and perceptions as its a strong clue they have some internal turmoil to work out.
But as you said, it happens. There is an author I am told hates me and we’ve never even met other than I was apparently standing in her way at GRL one year. So were 5 others, but I guess they weren’t the problem, just me. **shrugs** But as I said, we’d never met, never exchanged words on facebook, and as far as I know neither had my twin. So I have no idea why she feels that way. Nor do I see it is of any of my business what she thinks. I am sure she isn’t the only one and my perception is to ignore them too.
Princess S.O. says:
March 16, 2015 at 11:30 am
Thanks for the great blog read by the way. And keep up the chatter of HH and his grandmonther.. hahha
March 16, 2015 at 1:58 pm
It’s funny, I hear things from authors and readers after conventions and there’s almost always some bit of communication or perception that’s gone awry. Whenever I hear about it and if I happen to know who they’re talking about, I’ll encourage them to approach the person and see if the issue is really what they thought it was. Sometimes it’s just a strong difference of opinion. Sometimes it was completely wrong. Had I heard about this from whoever took issue with you, I’d have done the same thing and suggested they contact you directly.
Princess SO says:
March 17, 2015 at 8:59 am
You’re probably right. who knows, someone may have said the very same thing to that author about me. And I am sure if the moment came about that we happened to cross path and were actually in each others company I would clear the air, I just dont go around tugging on shirt tails bugging people, crying out “WHY DONT YOU LIKE ME?!?!?” hahahahaha
Princess SO says:
March 17, 2015 at 9:00 am
wait … i feel a facebook status coming on. lmao
Diana Castilleja says:
March 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm
I think it’s a matter of the personal relationship. My DH is caveman more often than not. Unless the party “offended” is IN the relationship, they’re barking up the wrong tree. Some one woke up on the wrong side of the keyboard to take that opinion out on you.
Jay Hartman says:
March 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm
My husband is Latin, and I’ve called him Taquito for as long as I can remember. He earned that nickname because he’s brown on the outside with tons of goodness on the inside. Should somebody get up in arms because my nickname for my Peruvian is also the name of a Mexican snack? Here’s the better question…do I really care? He loves it and he’s the only one it should matter to. He calls me Osito, or “little bear.” Should PETA activists get up in arms?
As for perceptions, I’ve had some authors say some pretty hateful stuff and attack me personally in the past. Usually as their contract was ending or they decided they could do a lot better self-publishing than working with me. It took me a long time to realize that instead of focusing on the one or two authors who act like utter jerks, I should focus on the hundreds of others I work with on a daily basis who constantly express how much they like working with me.
Untreed Reads Publishing
March 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm
Totally love the nicknames!
The sad thing is there are some publishers who are horrible to work with just as there are authors who are horrible to work with. I try to put my best foot forward working with folks because it simply makes good sense to do. People talk and one’s behavior gets around.
March 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm
For several years, my MIL thought I was a horrendous bitch, and thought I thought I was better than anyone. All because I’m quiet and shy. (She’s not the only one with that opinion). And it’s so far from the truth. She learned, eventually, that I am not a bitch, don’t think I’m better than everyone else, and we became close after that. But, because I’m shy and introverted, it makes it hard to make friends, and the general perception is I’m arrogant, egotistical, and haughty. If they only knew the insecurities I carry. lololol
March 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm
I don’t think you’re a beyotch at all, let alone arrogant or egotistical. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing you in a parental setting with your son. As for your insecurities, it explains why you get grumpy when I don’t mention you in a blog post so you can feel secure in your place in this world. 😛
March 16, 2015 at 10:14 pm
That’s right? Don’t mention me and my hurt gets big.
Charlie Cochrane says:
March 16, 2015 at 5:38 pm
Oh, for goodness sake. *shakes head at the world* It’s nobody’s business but yours (between you) in terms of what you call each other so long as you’re both happy.
Kiernan Kelly says:
March 17, 2015 at 12:07 am
I have a question.
How does one be anything BUT a “lifelong Asian”? Is there a time limit on ethnicity? Does it expire, like some sort of human yogurt? Do you have to renew it, like a driver’s license?
Please. If HH is find with being called “HH,” then everyone else can take a knee and kiss it. 🙂