Measure 2 lbs self-rising flour.
Have an audience.
Make a Secret List.
Reveal to audience that there is a Secret List, but take no responsibility for creating the List. Inform that it was a poll.
Mix flour with milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
Reveal that there are people in the audience who may or may not be on the List.
Do not tell audience who is on the List. Or not on it.
*Refuse to divulge statistical numbers of actual poll respondents. Turn oven on. Watch it heat up.
State that the people on the List are “must-haves”, which places those not on the Secret List on the “not-must-haves” List. (Yes it really is quid pro quo. It’s the internet. Don’t give me that Bambi look.)
Place mixture in heated oven while audience begins to cook to a slow boil. Say something about unfortunate wording and inadvertent offense. Ignore the fact that the wording of a newsletter is secondary to the reality that there IS a list and telling writers that there IS a secret list and then not telling them whether or not they are on it or not is not like throwing gasoline on a fire, no, it’s like throwing another tanker of gasoline on a gasoline tanker fire.
Set timer. Calmly claim that angry audience members misinterpreted the meaning of simple phrases. (Don’t feel bad. Bill Clinton tried this one. Didn’t work out for him, either.)
Apologize for not taking into consideration the insecurities of the audience.
Fail to exercise self-criticism on wisdom of creating any List at all that you’re not prepared to own. Instead, why not place the blame of the resulting negativity on the shoulders of vapid, low-sales authors motivated by jealousy?
Listen to timer making frantic ding-ding-ding noises.
Have representative organizers make blanket statements about the emotional and/or ego-driven motivations of those who object to the List. Meanwhile, cake in oven has begun to resemble a poisonous atomic mushroom cloud.
Timer hops around the room like a Jack Russell cyborg terrier.
Do not implement the reasonable arguments made against the List that are put forth in a civil manner. Instead, focus on the members hurling insults, spreading rumors, and stomping, where you are clearly in the right.
Imply that you really expected more mature and professional behavior from authors.
Watch timer explode. Watch cake explode. Watch internet explode.
And that’s how you bake a wank cake.
Listen, authors and readers, I have no present plans to attend Gay Romantic Lit. I haven’t been asked to attend GRL. No one has sent me any secret invite. I have no agenda, other than to make a blog post about a topic that has me interested. If I get asked to attend, I may or may not, but if I do (or don’t) it won’t have anything to do with GRL’s announcement, simply because I don’t think they deliberately did anything wrong.
Listen GRL organizers: everyone who criticizes you is not your enemy. It therefore doesn’t default that the recent criticisms leveled against GRL stem from the finest motivations, either. Some of what is being said about envious and protective authors behaving badly is (sadly) true. I know that my own Jellus-O-Meter starting ticking when I read the newsletter, but I refuse to feed that beast. None of that means that GRL is infallible.
You fucked up. Face it.
You didn’t fuck up by creating an author cap. Author caps are wise and reasonable in this venue. I support the author caps.
You didn’t fuck up by letting people know there WAS an author cap. There was one last year, too, and this didn’t happen.
You fucked up with a seriously ham-handed delivery to your audience of method, presentation, and response. That’s all. F minus on all three. But it’s not the end of the world. This can be fixed.
#1: Discard the list. If you’re not willing to reveal poll numbers, that shouts to people that the numbers were weak. It’s a huge gap in the process of fairness (which should be transparent) and so far you’re focusing on being annoyed that people will not stop focusing on the poll numbers. This is a non-viable method of defusing the situation. Authors will never, ever stop obsessing over numbers.
#2: Make your own executive-decision list of author invitations. No one that I’ve read disputes your right to do that. They only dispute the creation of an opaque list attributed to no one.
#3: Take responsibility for your list.
There’s still a great deal of goodwill out there for GRL. I have goodwill for the convention. I think it’s a wonderful, inclusive enterprise and I acknowledge the hard work and time out of their busy lives that the organizers have invested into it. It’s their baby, and I respect that.
But if hard work made you a saint, there would be statues of me everywhere. 🙂 We’re all human and none of us are prescient. Obviously if the GRL organizers had somehow been able to know what kind of response they’d receive from their newsletter announcement, they would have re-calculated and gone in another direction. I have no doubt of that, and the statements made that the organizers deliberately set out to make GRL divisive and elitist should not be taken seriously. GRL also can’t be blamed for getting snippy and hurling back some of the same noxious poo that was being hurled at them. If anything, I’m amazed at their restraint. If that had been me, I doubt that any of my responses would have been printable.
This was simply a flawed procedure that was handled poorly, but the longer GRL keeps insisting that there is no flaw, the harder it’s going to be to recover from the bad PR and start mending fences.
Let’s all get to work, huh? 🙂
*You can deduce this number with a little work, based on attendance and the number of attendees who have stated they did not fill out a poll.