Did Danielle Steel Overreact?
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about different ways that an author can be a jerk, and this might be (but probably isn’t) one of them. Famous author Danielle Steel (not to be confused with Danielle from “The Literary Girlfriend”) wrote a really long blog post about how she hates it when men ask her: “Are you still writing?”
Danielle Steel did not name the men who asked her that question (that would have made her a jerk). She has also let a couple people respectfully disagree with her on the comments section of her blog (that also makes her not a jerk). But I think Danielle Steel overreacted a little bit with her blog post.
According to Danielle Steel, only men ask her if she is “still writing.” She believes men would never ask another man the same question. She also believes men would never ask somebody of a different profession if he is still doing what he does for a living. Therefore, asking Danielle Steel if she is “still writing” is both condescending and sexist.
I don’t know. I’m a man, and I’ve been asked by both men and women if I’m still writing, but the context may be different from Danielle Steel’s. My acquaintances know that years and years ago I was trying to get a literary agent, and since then I’ve stopped talking about it. They don’t even know about this blog or my ebooks. I don’t mention it because I don’t feel like talking about my writing anymore (except to a couple family members).
The thing is, men often ask other men about how work and hobbies are going. It’s the first topic of conversation. If I haven’t seen an acquaintance in a while, one of the first things I ask is “Are you still working at…?” or “Are you still (add verb here)…?” Then we talk about sports (usually football). Maybe we’ll talk about family, but that’s only if the conversation is really long (sometime after we discuss politics, religion and maybe abortion).
Danielle Steel should know this. She’s a bestselling author (for more information, read her blog post because she describes her success very thoroughly). I haven’t read any of her books, but I’m guessing she’s written a few male characters in her time. It’s disappointing that such a prolific author seems to have a basic misconception of what men are like. It makes me wonder how her male characters sound in her novels. I may have to read one of her books to find out, or I might ask one of my female friends (my wife hasn’t read any of her books).
Danielle Steel claims (I think) that women have never asked her if she is still writing. Part of that might be because she writes for more of a female audience. Women would be more likely than men to know if Danielle Steel is still writing books. But some of those same women who haven’t asked Danielle Steel if she is still writing have probably said nasty things about her behind her back. I know some women do this because I’ve seen a couple Real Housewives episodes.
I was also surprised at Danielle Steel’s writing style in her blog post. For one thing, SHE ALL-CAPS LOTS OF WORDS AND PHRASES. She mentions all of her accomplishments (books sales, how many languages her books have been printed in, how many best sellers she has, she just finished writing a book). She probably doesn’t need to do this. Anybody reading her blog probably knows that Danielle Steel is a successful writer. And most successful writers know that ALL-CAPPING DOESN’T HELP MAKE YOUR POINT!!!!! (neither does using too many exclamation points).
This (being asked “Are you still writing?”) would be a famous author’s problem. I have nothing against famous authors because I hope to become one someday (I’d rather be rich then famous, though), but as a writer who struggles to find people who’ll read my stuff (even when it’s free), it makes me a little envious to see a famous author complain about this question. A snarky tweet about it would have been one thing. But between all of her generalizations, blanket statements, and ALL CAPS, I thought it might be a parody. I really hope it’s a parody.
I have no problem with a famous author overreacting (if Danielle Steel is indeed overreacting). That is what blogs are for. If you can’t overreact on your own blog, where can you overreact? And writers need to overreact sometimes. At least she didn’t road rage somebody or throw a tantrum at a book signing. That would be both overreacting and being a jerk.