When I checked Brian Plante’s Chronicles of the Garden Variety Writers today, he had posted a new entry for the July 3rd session. He started the entry by acknowledging that he had received feedback from people stating that he was being unfair to the writers in the group, so I was encouraged. Unfortunately, he then went on to say the following:
“I’ve already stated these chronicles will contain, by necessity, a lot of my personal opinions, so maybe you should just take things with a grain of salt. You’ve been warned. I am mostly at peace with what I am doing.”
At this point, I decided I should send him an e-mail. I resisted doing that when I posted about this blog in my June 27th creativity journal entry. It will be interesting to see if he responds.
When it comes right down to it, he has the right to cover any topics he wants in his weblog. That’s part of what blogging is all about. But I’m concerned that he may have crossed the line in terms of this writing group, and his portrayal of some of the members as “tourists,” who don’t do anything to further the productivity of the group in his eyes. I’m also concerned that he posted the group’s charter online without their permission.
(Later in the day.)
No, I’m not moving on. I thought about this some more, and it struck me that I’m not having a problem reading the logs of some people who are attending Clarion East and Clarion West right now. Essentially, they are journaling in much more detail about the events in their workshops than Brian is. So why is it bothering me that he’s journaling about a small group in … oops, I almost gave away the secret location of the Garden Variety Writers group.
I think it has to do with the deception. Bluejack and Dierdre, above, are writing their online journals with the full knowledge of the other participants. Also, they are not pretending to be something they aren’t in order to gain access to their groups. (In fact, they paid a hefty entry fee to get in. It’s a great deal for six weeks of intensive writer training, but it’s still hefty!) Not only is Brian intentionally withholding his publishing history, he hasn’t disclosed anything to them about the fact that he’s archiving their activities.
How is that different from what I’m doing? First, I’m not a professional (or semi-pro, even) writer. Second, I have announced at all of my writing groups that I’m keeping an online creativity journal and invited all of them to look at it. I haven’t specifically said that I mention the groups in this log, but since they are directly related to my creativity, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to find references to them here. Third, I’m not making negative judgments about the people in those groups.
I guess there is a difference. Now I need to figure out why I’m picking this battle, I think. It’s really none of my business what Brian says about people in the Garden Variety Writer’s group, despite the fact that he is posting the information in a public forum. And I certainly don’t think it’s my responsibility to try and protect these people who don’t even know what’s happening to them (and might not care.) So why am I getting so vocal about this?
I guess I can say this much about Brian Plante’s Chronicles: they have pushed an emotional button in me, and to that end, they are worthwhile. Whether that button is a valid one or a sensationalist one ….
Hold the phone.
I think I realize part of the lack of appeal. This is like the seedy side of television’s reality programming. I abhor reality programming because in it the tragic portions of people’s lives become nothing more than network TV entertainment. That’s part of what’s unsettling me. To be fair, I don’t think Brian is intentionally trying to emulate reality programming, but the fact that the participants in the group are not aware of what’s happening makes it feel like a sting operation.
And for me, that’s a good reason not to watch any more, no matter how much I want to see what happens when the group finds out about it.
Okay, really, moving on now.