Archive for May, 2008

Friday Night Date Place – On Again/Off Again

Gather close Interwebs, I have a secret to tell you: Broadduses suck at relationships. I know, I know, but it’s true. I’ll use myself as an example ad not toss my siblings under a bus. My wife and I dated over a two year period before we got married. That is to say, the length of time we dated covered a two year span. The problem was that over that that time, the longest we dated for any stretch before our engagement was two weeks. (In fact, as not to stress ourselves, our engagement was only about six weeks long.)

All relationships have to find their own course, but had my wife come to be for counseling and laid out the specifics of her/our relationship, I’d have told her to run. Actually, many of her friends advised her to do exactly that (but, well, sometimes there’s just no talking any sense into her and every April 1st I’m sure she thinks “I should’ve run.”)

Why would I have said run?

Obviously something in the dynamic of the relationship abhorred stability. There was an element of fear at play that needed to be rooted out. Maybe an inability to commit that caused the trigger-happy party in the relationship to either break up, drive her away, or otherwise sabotage the relationship. Unless it was addressed, and people are loathe to deal with their own issues, it would haunt the relationship.

Continuity is important in a relationship. You learn about each other and a lot of information can slip through the cracks when you’re always breaking up when things get tough or inconvenient.

On the flip side, there are some positives.

The relationship breaks can give time to process and come to terms with a few things. To get at the root cause of that fear requires introspection, intense reflection, and time. Applying the brakes slows things down, allowing the scared party to get their head around the concept of a partnership, a relationship, and commitment.

The on gain/off again nature of a relationship comes with its own stressors:

-trust. It’s hard to establish stability when the trust is rocked every few weeks. It’s hard to rest comfortably in the relationship when you fear it will all go to crap at any minute. It drains the fun out of being in a relationship and increases the sense of drama. Imagine your attitude at the prospect of crossing a bridge prone to collapsing.

-break ups. Even at their best, break ups aren’t easy to navigate and “survive”. The things that first attracted you to that person are still present, and it’s easy to fall back into that routine and established comfort levels. You have to remember that the things that drove you apart are also there. To continue to jump back in is the equivalent of ripping the Band Aid from a wound that hasn’t been allowed to heal.

-resolutions. In marriage, you don’t have the luxury of solving your problems by breaking up. (Well, you do, but it costs you half your stuff. I may have fear of commitment issues, but I love my comic book and DVD collection, too). Regardless, running away is not real conducive to the health of a relationship. The process of facing your fears together and resolving conflicts together builds trust, dependence, communication, and coping skills, all of which will come in handy later.

I look back and marvel that the two of us ever got together. Was the on again/off again a necessary part of our journey. Probably (he rationalizes knowing that despite 8 years of marriage, my wife still acts likes she’s suffering from post traumatic stress any time someone brings up our dating history). I wasn’t even close to being in a place to settle down, but when the right person comes along, and won’t wait around forever for you to get your act together, the paradigm shift in thinking and behavior can be an abrupt and ugly process.

If the on again/off again can be seen as one, or both, of you working your way toward, or through, something, and the person is worth the pain of the process (and let me tell you, I am PURE JOY!!!), then go with God. Do what you need to do. Otherwise … run!!!

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Friday Night Date Place – Fellas Take Notes

05-22-2008 Reese's Love note to a girlRemember when I said that I’m not ready for my eldest son’s (all of seven) dating life? Well, come to find out here is the note he just gave to his friend (I have no idea where he found heart paper). Apparently they discussed it at recess (with all of the teachers ooh-ing and aw-ing while watching them talk).

Dear Maurila,

Will you date me? You are very cute. I like how you wear your hair. I love you. Do you like to play with me? Do you love me?

As a proud father, I guess, I have to appreciate how he handled his business. There was none of this “hey, you … girl” nonsense. Let’s break this down:

Dear Maurila – first he addresses her as a person. An individual. Hopefully he spelled her name right.

Will you date me? – Direct. Strong. Intentions clearly stated. There will be no “couch dilemma” where she wonders what he’s thinking. Thus he also saves himself an awkward DTR talk down the road.

You are very cute. – YEAH, boy. Insert flattery. Appreciate her beauty.

I like how you wear your hair. – And now the student becomes the master. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blown the whole hair thing.

I love you. – Okay, a little too much. He might be moving a little too fast. We throw a flag on the play because he hasn’t received the memo that there’s no such thing as instant intimacy. On the plus side, he knows how he feels and he’s putting himself out there. By making the first move, he’s the vulnerable one (not afraid of possible rejection, but also making sure she knows that her risk will be lessened).

Do you like to play with me? – already he’s thinking about possible date activities. He attends to her needs by assessing what she enjoys.

Do you love me? – Again, he puts himself out there, but only so far as to see what she’s thinking.

He gets extra points for not simply IM-ing her, posting the query on Facebook, or stalking her on a message board, but by doing this in the context of a conversation in person. He thought through what he wanted to say, organized his thoughts on paper, but presented them in person.

That’s my boy.

Dear Television,

We find ourselves in the midst of that ritual of remembrance, that blessed time of year, that special communion of pop culture and advertising we know as May sweeps. It’s been a rocky year for us, though things had been building to a head for a while. It was bad enough when I’d have to wait weeks between new episodes of Lost or Desperate Housewives.

It’s healthy for people in relationships to spend some time apart, to reassess and make sure they are right for one another. Think of our time apart as a time when we could explore other interests, you know, to see if our relationship was right. It’s not like those books or time with my friends or family meant anything to me. They were just diversions. It’s you that I love.

It’s not completely my fault, either. I prepared for our time apart as best I could. I stockpiled a lot of hours on my DVR, I bought several seasons of various shows on DVD, but it wasn’t the same.

I had my reasons. I had to support my fellow writers in the Writer’s Guild of America in their struggle to seek appropriate compensation for writers when their work is distributed digitally, either via DVD or Internet downloads. Every time a new technology comes down the pike, the corporate suits find some way to screw us out of our rights, money, or control. Some execs have to play hardball, but rest assured that the God I believe in will one day hold them accountable for American Gladiator being back on the air.

I could bore you with how it takes a writer earning $30K a year in order to get insurance and how half don’t qualify each year. Or how the typical television writer life is spent one year working, two years off. Or with talk of residuals, pensions, or how the old way of doing things don’t work and must change. But, baby, these are just excuses. I know these things don’t matter to you. To what we have.

I’d really like for us to work things out. Stretch new episodes into the summer if you have to. Don’t be afraid to launch new shows during the summer. Start the Fall season a little earlier. It’s the little gestures that will make our relationship work.

Let us never fight again.



If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Retention Ponds – CSI: Indy

A year or so ago, I walked out of my condominium door on my way to work only to find that my car window had been busted out. I did what any citizen would do: call my boss and call the police. When the police arrived, I was quick to point out that “I hadn’t touched anything in case you need to dust for fingerprints.” At which point the officer said “One, it’s rained all morning and that would have washed away any useable evidence. Two, you watch too much CSI.”

I’ll freely admit that I’m a CSI, Law & Order, and every other cop and law show junkie. However, I’ve always had a theory that these kinds of shows can’t help but generate a smarter breed of criminal. A criminal with a fairly decent head on their shoulders and plenty of time to spend on a couch (I’m assuming they have plenty of time to watch television when they aren’t playing video games) can learn a lot from these shows.

And I’m assuming they have.

I live on the northwest side of Indianapolis. In the last few weeks our fire department has been called out to apartment complexes and the north side office complex known as “the Pyramids” in order to pull cars out of retention ponds. Witnesses say they saw a car in the water and when the divers entered the water, they found no one inside the car. The car was pulled out only to find out that wasn’t the car that was seen going into the water. So far, they’ve recovered five cars.

I’m wondering if we aren’t inadvertently making smarter criminals. After learning so much about DNA and fingerprint, and realizing that the CSI team can apparently find anything you leave behind, criminals opt to do the next best thing. Destroy all the evidence. They are dumping their cars, these crime scenes/evidence jars on wheels in retention ponds hoping to destroy any trace evidence. The best thing about destroying evidence using retention ponds is that it’s much more low key than, say, setting the car on fire.

Then again, I might be worrying prematurely. Reflecting on the car thief incident, someone went through the effort to steal a baby seat (one, not both of them, mind you), the Bible I had between the seats, and my wife’s 80s dance mix tapes. Tapes. 80s. Dance. Tapes. Maybe they aren’t getting that much smarter. Prisons are filled with all kinds of geniuses.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Mo*Con III: The Intersection of Spirituality, Art, and Gender* (Updated 5/19/2008)

Hosted by The Dwelling Place and the Indiana Horror Writers.

Church is a communal expression of faith, to pursue spiritual formation to be the kind of people God wants us to be. To be a safe place to ask and wrestle with spiritual questions. Whose mandate should include building a sense of community, loving each other, and serving the world, all in the name of Christ. So why not have church with a bunch of horror writers?

Continuing the tradition of exploring spirituality, art, and social issues, The Dwelling Place desires to be a refuge or sanctuary, a place of rest and freedom for people to be themselves, where we connect with God and one another by joining Jesus’ mission to bless the world. The goal of Mo*Con, pure and simple, is to continue conversations. With that in mind, I’ve invited a few friends to chat with me for the weekend:

Guests of Honor:

Nick Mamatas
The editor of Clarksworld Magazine, Nick Mamatas’ work appears frequently in Razor Magazine, The Village Voice, and various Disinformation Books and BenBella Books’ Smart Pop Books anthologies. His short novel Northern Gothic (Soft Skull, 2001) was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction in 2002. His first full-length novel, Move Under Ground (Night Shade Books, 2004/Prime Books, 2006) was nominated for both the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel in 2005. His second novel, Under My Roof, was released in 2007.

Mark Rainey
Author of the novels Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark (with Elizabeth Massie, HarperCollins, 1999), Balak (Wildside Books, 2000), The Lebo Coven (Thomson Gale/Five Star Books, 2004), The Nightmare Frontier (Sarob Press, 2006), and Blue Devil Island (Thomson Gale/Five Star Books, 2007), Mark Rainey has also published three short story collections and over 80 published works of short fiction. Some may remember him from his editing of the legendary magazine, Deathrealms.

Matt Cardin
Matt Cardin is a writer of horror fiction and scholarly essays. His books include: Divinations of the Deep, a collection of literary horror stories with a dark spiritual theme; The God of Foulness, a novella about a cult that seeks salvation by worshipping a god of disease; and a second collection of his work, titled Dark Awakenings in late 2007 which wiill feature fiction and nonfiction writings about horror — both the existential experience and the entertainment genre — and religion.

Lucy Snyder
The author of Sparks and Shadows, a cross-genre short story collection from HW Press, Lucy A. Snyder may be most known for her humor collection Installing Linux on a Dead Badger (And Other Oddities). With over 70 short fiction sales and over 20 poetry sales, her fiction goes all over the road, although she does tend to write genre stories (science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, etc.) more often than straightforward mainstream fiction. She also writes a column for Horror World on science and technology for writers.

Featured Guests Include:

Chesya Burke
With more than 40 publishing credits to her name, including the acclaimed Chocolate Park, Chesya Burke has been making her mark in the horror and fantasy worlds. She has several articles appearing in the African American National Biography published by Harvard University and Oxford University Press, received the 2003 Twilight Tales Award for fiction and an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction: 18th Annual Edition.

Kim Paffenroth
The author of several books on the Bible and theology, Kim Paffenroth has been considering the interface between religion and pop culture, especially his favorite movie monster, the zombie. He has written Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero’s Visions of Hell on Earth (Baylor, 2006), and his zombie novel, Dying to Live (Permuted, 2007),

Bob Freeman
Bob Freeman majored in Anthropology at Ball State University, specializing in Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion. He is the author of the Cairnwood Manor Saga published by Black Death Books.

The overall weekend will look something like this:

Friday, June 13th
The Dwelling Place
7440 N. Michigan Road
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.
8:00 p.m. Guest Reception
10:00 p.m. Concert by Mother Grove (what? You didn’t think I’d like a Celtic rock band?)

[And the official
Brian Keene “Memorial” Magic: the Gathering Tournament!!!]

Saturday, June 14th
The Dwelling Place
Doors open at 10:00 a.m.

Panels will include discussions about how our respective faiths impact our writing, what editors demand, and the impact of gender issues when it comes to writing. We will have an artists gallery. Lunch (featuring the return of our chili cookoff for all challengers) and dinner will be provided and there will be an Apex Digest of Science Fiction and Horror after party.

Sunday, June 15th
The Dwelling Place
10:30 am – Dwelling Place Service
Followed by a Guest Farewell Luncheon.

Other confirmed guests include:
Kelli Dunlap, Gary Braunbeck, Jason Sizemore, Debbie Kuhn, John C. Hay, Taylor Kent, Lauren David, Carrie Rapp, Michael West, Sara Larson, Tracy Jones, Sue Dent, Frank Creed, Brian J. Hatcher, Brian Yount, David Montoya, Michael Knost and Tim Waggoner. You can let me know if you are coming by leaving a note here (or drop me an e-mail).

Mo*Con III will also feature the debut of at least two projects. The first is the novella written by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White, Orgy of Souls. The second is the anthology by the Indiana Horror Writers, Dark Harvest.

And the is also the IHW store (be sure to especially check out the commemorative “That’s Our Wrath” products as my personal favorite, the “Maurice’s Excuse” T-shirt.

There are plenty of nearby hotels (I am particularly fond of the MicroTel). This page will be updated as more guests and details are confirmed.

Cost: $10 per Person, but DONATIONS ARE APPRECIATED. Money will be accepted at the door or it can be sent to my paypal account [Maurice Broaddus –]

We hope to see you there!

*a.k.a. Make Sure Alethea Kontis Relaxes and is Spoiled Weekend

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Friday Night Date Place – True Beauty

There is truth and goodness in beauty, one that we recognize without having to be told (much less needing it plastered all over magazine covers). Beauty should touch a primal chord within us, captivate us, and spur us to adoration, even worship. Sometimes it takes a spiritual eye, a discerning eye, to truly appreciate beauty. A spiritual perception of glory, the loveliness of holiness, and the preciousness of grace … all the things that come with being created in God’s image. All beauty reflects its source, namely, God. When we experience beauty, we experience God. When we create beauty, we reveal God to others.

Continuing the thoughts from yesterday’s post, whenever my faith wavers, I try to remember that I have encountered true beauty in my life. I just wish more would see the beauty in themselves and realize they reflect God with their very existence. True, beauty has a subjective element to it, but there are also standards, or universals, to it. So I decided to look around at some of the beauty in my life to realize what they have taught me about beauty (keep in mind, these are but a few examples. I could easily go on):

Beauty sometimes has believed lies about itself, be it from a parent or a friend or a social group, to the point where it can’t recognize itself. The tragedy is that beauty is so often determined from the outside that we’re left in need of validation. We find ourselves consciously or unconsciously asking “Do you see beauty in me? Am I worth another glance?” We can become trapped in negative stories we’ve come to believe about ourselves and cling to a fundamental insecurity about ourselves to the point where we can recognize beauty in the mirror.

Beauty sometimes needs to be drawn out. Better stated, sometimes beauty doesn’t recognize its own preciousness. Nicole Johnson has captured the desires and dreams of women in her book, Keeping a Princess Heart In a Not-So-Fairy-Tale World. Without succumbing to sentimentality, Nicole demonstrates how the fairy-tale stories of our youth touch upon the very real desires women possess. We all long to be Cinderella (the mistreated beauty rejected by others but pursued by a prince), Sleeping Beauty (the captive beauty waiting for life-giving kiss), and Snow White (the outcast beauty who raises a family of dwarves). Put succinctly, too many princesses wait on princes, not realizing that they don’t need them.

Beauty should have confidence and confidence is beautiful. Because beauty is so often determined from the outside, we forget that beauty recognizes itself. Beauty can be self-defined and self-determined. Just like we can become trapped in negative stories about ourselves, we can write our own positive stories and wait for the world to fall in lockstep with them. When beauty acknowledges and affirms their beauty rather than waiting on the princes of the world to recognize, beauty turns heads.

Beauty perseveres. Like faith it can be tried and tested, it may bend, but never fade away. I am reminded of this verse: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5. Beauty, art, faith – all are meant to persevere.

Beauty has standards. I am guilty of Philokalia. Philokalia is Greek for “the love of the beautiful.” Beauty doesn’t need me to value it, but it demands to be known, loved, and appreciated. I may not be everyone’s idea of a prince, but I am someone’s. When true beauty is encountered, it defines the world around you. That kind of beauty you better marry.

A part of loving one another means looking at one another with eyes of love. I’m not going to look at just anyone with the same eyes that I look at my wife, but the spirit of philokalia should be contagious.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Ugly Betty (Season One) – A Review

“It’s all about appearance.” –Daniel

Ugly Betty was one of those shows I was late on the bandwagon about (read: I played catch up during the writer’s strike). Produced by Salma Hayek, this is an adaptation of a popular telenovela for stateside viewing.

“I can’t walk in there looking like me.” –Betty

Self-consciously unfashionable Betty Suarez had a dream of working for a fashion magazine. Through a series of events, magazine mogul Bradford Meade (Alan Dale) has just turned Mode over to his playboy son, Daniel (Eric Mabius), who quickly finds himself in over his head. Betty ends up getting hired as an assistant (so that Daniel wouldn’t be tempted to sleep with his assistant). With Betty being so constantly sweet and wise, America Ferrera saves the show from her character’s earnestness. Her own beauty hidden behind braces, bad hair, and bushy eyebrows, she charms us with this fish out of water tale.

Our over the top hero, too adorable, too good, too endearing, is buoyed by her family and persecuted by her co-workers, often finding herself in the inadvertent crosshairs of her equally over the top villainess boss, Vanessa Williams. Playing wicked step-mother to Betty’s Cinderella, Williams’ Wilhelmina Slater would be a hammy performance in lesser hands.

“They have a way of taking the truth, twisting it around. We always have to protect ourselves. Twist it around ourselves if we need to.” –Daniel

The American culture has an unnatural predilection with beauty, usually missing the point of what true beauty is. We have reduced beauty to surface matters, not thinking twice about being retouched, computer enhanced, reimagined through surgery in order to achieve the makeover of our false selves. We’ve reduced beauty to that with is merely pretty, setting cruel standards (impossible thinness and youth), the endless pursuit of which changes us and our definitions of beauty.

“Then maybe your concept of what’s beautiful is a little narrow.” –Betty
There is truth and goodness in beauty, one that we recognize without having to be told (much less needing it plastered all over magazine covers). Beauty should touch a primal chord within us, captivate us, and spur us to adoration, even worship. I’m reminded of what Rich Vincent said in his article The Beauty of Holiness – The Holiness of Beauty:

To worship is to experience and express divine beauty. When we participate in beauty we come into the presence of the Holy. All the beauty found in nature and human art reflects God’s glory and shows us something about God. Therefore, “Whenever we awaken beauty, we are helping to make God present in the world.” Conversely, “those who destroy the beauty of God’s creation or who create ugliness may be sinning against the Holy Spirit.”

Sometimes it takes a spiritual eye, a discerning eye, to truly appreciate beauty. A spiritual perception of glory, the loveliness of holiness, and the preciousness of grace … all the things that come with being created in God’s image. All beauty reflects its source, namely, God. When we experience beauty, we experience God. When we create beauty, we reveal God to others. Or as Rich put it:

To know God is know beauty; to know beauty is to know God. Just as God is the source of all truth and goodness, God is also the source of all beauty. God is the Supreme Artist – the Creator of all. Thus, everything that is beautiful reflects God’s artistry. Indeed, God is Beauty itself.

Ugly Betty has a campy quality to it, much like the telenovelas Betty’s father, Ignatio (Tony Plana) watches. While the cast of characters are little more than a collection of stereotypes, they are humanized by solid performances. The show careens unevenly during the course of the season, as if the show wasn’t confident about itself (Daniel alone seems to undergo several personality changes over the run of episodes). However, juggling romance and mystery, the writer’s may not be used to painting in broad strokes. The show, and Betty in particular, grow on you to the point of overlooking its few missteps.

Green Arrow/Black Canary

“Arrow Family Values”

Written by: Judd WInnick
Art by: Cliff Chiang
Published by: DC Comics

Allow me to rant for just a moment. I hate it when comic book companies decide to do publicity stunts rather than rely on solid writing to bolster sales. The debacle that was the phone in vote that lead to the death of Robin many years ago. The death of Superman. The more recent death of Captain America. Breaking the trend of death stunts came Spider-Man’s One Last Day. The real shame is that you don’t have to do this. Not with Green Arrow. This character has an enduring popularity (including his recent stint on Smallville) despite what writers have often done with him.

Green Arrow/Black Canary picks up about a month after the end of the Wedding Special, where Black Canary (Dinah Lance) has to kill a seemingly crazed Green Arrow (Oliver Queen). The ongoing title makes the wedding issue feel even more gimmicky (though the alternative would have been that Oliver Queen was dead. Again.)

A lot of people start visiting furniture stores long before they actually start on their house plans. Deal like home lighting, interior decoration are decided well before. This helps them in saving the exact amount that will be required later.

Green Arrow is a well developed character with an interesting and varied history; the kind of character that makes any average story more interesting simply by dropping him in the middle of it. From millionaire playboy to crusading idealist, his feet are quite clay-like, as he has been an absent father to his son, Connor Hawke. Green Arrow also has a wide variety of ancillary characters, including Black Canary, Speedy(HIV-positive Mia Dearden), Arsenal (former addict, Roy Harper, Jr – the original Speedy). The dual billing of the title suggests the that the focus of the book will revolve around these two – the Arrow family with Green Arrow and Black Canary as its head.

“I consider this girl my daughter.” –Black Canary

As a society, the two parent, mother and father, model is the best model for structuring a family. However, let’s not confuse it being the best model with being the only model of a family. We often cling to such a narrow definition of family, which is interesting for a culture that values kicking their young out of the nest as soon as possible and shuttling their parents into nursing homes at their earliest convenience. So let’s not pretend we have the final answer on what it means to be a family. Blood alone does not make you family.

While Judd Winnick aims for a whimsical portrayal of the Green Arrow family, the result is something too quip heavy. The banter is quick to go for the easy laugh which creates an atmosphere that lacks the necessary gravitas to pull off the deep emotional chord pulling he attempts every other issue (from the presumed death of husband/father figure to the near death of son). When he’s not doing near constant joking, Winnick pulls out non-stop action so that no one has time to think about their feelings.

I don’t have faith that Winnick knows what he’s doing with Green Arrow’s character. Each issue feels like a reboot, or at least has an abrupt change in direction and tone. I’m also not a fan of Cliff Chiang’s too cartoony art, though it probably fits with Winnick’s all over the map writing. I just want more from this book and these characters and I’m waiting for DC to quit betting on Winnick.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Episode 11: Wired for Relationships

I’ve been interviewed for the JustLife.Tv podcast. It’s a project that’s in the beginning stages, but I’ve been privy to the grand plan and I can’t wait to see take off.

Here is the Episode Synopsis:

In this episode we talk about friendship and the impact it has in a marriage context. Maurice Broaddus brought a unique spin to the conversation. We talked about the tug and pull in friendship, what we want in a friendship, and how we develop a friendship over time.

Click to go to Episode 11: Wired for Relationships

And they may be having me back to rant about “Friendship and Technology.” Be looking for that sometime in June.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

Battle of the Nitwits

As I read far too many author blogs, one of the things that continues to bug me is how many spend time arguing with nitwits. To be clear, I’m defining nitwit as a particular kind of Internet troll who spends their time endlessly sniping at a target or otherwise running their yap in a state of self-importance/attention whoring. True, true, this defines most message board interactions, but the nitwits tend to focus on a primary target and fixate.

I’ve had my share of nitwits (fairly insulting blogs, e-mails, letters, phone calls, and message board threads dedicated to me included in the prize package) and answering their charges is simply not worth my time. I don’t care (as long as they link to me). Seriously, the first thing I ask is “who are they?” because while I don’t mind constructive criticism, not every critic is equally worth hearing from.

It’s fairly common for the newbie writer to seek to establish themselves by going after a few easy targets, whoever the perceived bad boy is (in the horror community, Nick Mamatas and Brian Keene are popular targets). These would be iconoclasts may rationalize their behavior by declaring that they simply won’t put up with the behavior of an unprofessional martinet or what have you, but it’s so regular a practice that I’ve taken to calling this the Brian Keene effect. Since the theory is that you make a name for yourselves by going after someone bigger, not smaller, take heart in the fact that you’re a target.

They know you, they read you. That’s not a relationship you’re obligated to reciprocate. People have a right to free speech, buy you are under no obligation to be given a platform in your house. The Internet is a big place, so let them go start their own blog/message board and run things their way. You don’t need to expend energy validating their opinions or otherwise giving them a platform. If you feel that their comments rise to the level of slander or harassment or threat, that’s why God created police and lawyers. Not taking up your blog space.

Unfortunately, sometimes nitwits can take over a forum. It’s funny how it takes only 2-3 prominent voices to seemingly poison a whole community. That will happen if they are allowed to dominate discussion. They can change character of board by simply posting so often they become the face of the message board. So, sometimes folks have to be asked to leave for the health of a board. It can seem unfair or even arbitrary but “you talk too much and spew little of value” can be just as abusive to folks’ sensibilities.

(To prevent this, whoever has the “vision” for said board needs to be a main voice on the board either through themselves or via their mods. In a lot of ways, the vision/voice is the main draw to the message board, which means that their mods need to not only grasp that vision, but also have the necessary people and communication skills to facilitate the discussions. Not let the nitwits run amuck.)

In the end, arguing with a nitwit only reduces you. Oh, I know it’s hard to not swing back and crush them. Lord knows, I know. Think of it this way: you swinging back at them is a no lose situation for them. Suddenly you are bringing your audience to them and when it’s the strong (read) versus the weak (not read), you are the bully. You don’t want to let the nitwits drive you to being unprofessional. And there is no reason I need to know who the members of the legion of nitwits are because you keep giving them air time. Notice none of mine were mentioned by name. Or linked to. And the Internet is a better place for it.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.