“Discovering” Someone

I’ve been trying to be a relatively nice person on this blog.  Sure, I’m a bit opinionated, but I try not to call people out or rail against anyone.  And, honestly, that’s how I am in real life, too.  BUT.  Someone on one of the forums I lurk has been annoying the hell out of me and I’m going to rant about it.

No need to link to the post or engage with the person–it’s more the idea behind their idiocy that I want to address.

Basically, this person started a thread calling a major editor in the business a thief because this editor isn’t giving them credit for “discovering” a few wildly successful new authors.  They throw around words like “immoral” and “unethical.”

First, act like a frickin’ adult.  I don’t care what profession you’re in, you should never go onto a public forum and post shit like that.  It’s bad form.  Don’t do it.  Ever.

Now, I was just enjoying the train wreck, but the poster continued to defend their position and threw in a few more choice comments.  And this is where I became annoyed.  To paraphrase, the poster basically implied that if (a) you can recognize someone with writing talent, (b) you help them develop that talent, (c) you tell them they have what it takes and should be a writer, and (d) you predict that they will succeed, then you have “discovered them.”  And in this person’s twisted view of reality they somehow own a right to these people now.


Under the above theory, my sixth grade teacher who nominated me for a year-end writing prize “discovered” me.  But if she didn’t, then my eighth grade teacher who encouraged me to enter an essay contest (that I won) and who nominated me for the year-end English trophy “discovered” me.  Yes, both helped me develop my writing skills, saw a talent, and encouraged it.  But they didn’t “discover” me.

Don’t get me wrong.  They both influenced me.  All of my teachers throughout my life have influenced me and moved me one more step down my path.  But to think that now, when I’m 30+ years old, I could cross paths with some random-assed person who happens to read a story I wrote before I get published and he can then lay claim to my future success is, well, bullshit.  (From what I can tell, these claims are all based upon the poster providing feedback through Critters Workshop.)

Look.  I have had mentors in my life who I owe a great deal.  My first boss and my first assigned mentor when I was fresh out of college are largely responsible for the professional success I achieved over the next five years of my career.  They worked with me every single day for two plus years and put me on the right path.

No doubt about it that certain people have a profound impact on our lives and that most of us know who those people are.  I’ll say it right now–the most influential man on my life and my writing career was my father.  Period.  End of story.  No one gets to take place above him.  If he hadn’t read my early stories and poems when I was younger and encouraged me to have faith in every decision I make, I would never have become a writer (or done half the things I have in my life.)

But at the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own success as well.  No one is sitting here forcing me to write.  No one is coming up with ideas for me.  No one is choosing my words.  That’s something I do.  And without my effort, I will not achieve success at this.

What this person doesn’t seem to understand is that people give credit where credit is due.  If I ever do achieve success at this, I’m sure I will have kind words to say for my first beta readers, for that first editor who sees promise in my work and publishes me, for any mentor I find in the field, etc. etc.  But to hell with anyone who tries to attach themselves to me like some sort of leech and claim that I am only where I am (wherever that ends up being) because of them.

Seeing this person’s actions, I would never even want to associate with them let alone rely on them to help me grow as a writer, no matter how good they are at what they do.  This person just doesn’t “get it.”

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day.  Back to our regularly scheduled insipid posting tomorrow.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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