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Famous Authors Start Open Letter War

October 19, 2020
She’s the only good guy in this story because she didn’t sign an open letter (image via Wikimedia)

Is there anything lazier for an author to do than sign an open letter?

It all started because of this:


J.K. Rowling’s views on social identity continue to ignite controversy on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. After the September release of her most recent novel, Troubled Blood, fifth in the detective series that she writes under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, the conflict between those in the literary world who agree with her views and those who oppose them has intensified, due to Rowling’s perpetuating in her fiction what many consider to be negative myths and stereotypes about transgender people.


Read more here (if you dare) at Rowling’s Views Ignite War of Words in US, UK Literary Worlds.

But here’s a synopsis. J.K. gets attacked on social media (who HASN’T gotten attacked on social media?).

Then a group of British authors signs an open letter defending her.

Then another group of British authors sign an open letter against J.K. Rowling’s viewpoints.

And then a group of American authors signs a second open letter disagreeing with J.K. Rowling (because the British letter wasn’t good enough, I guess), and several famous authors like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and John Green signed that one.

Do you want more details? Seriously?

First of all, I’d never attach my name to an open letter if somebody else wrote it. Even though I’m officially unpublished, I have pride in my thoughts, too much to associate my name with somebody else’s words.

If I feel strongly enough to write about a topic, I’ll write about it myself. I’m not going to outsource my writing and put my name on it. That’s lazy.

Plus, I don’t think I’d even write an open letter. The open letter concept is kind of conceited. I think it used to be called an editorial or opinion piece, except the writer is arrogant enough to shape it as a letter and make it public.

Either write a direct letter or write an opinion piece. Or do both and keep them separate.

What issue were the authors arguing about? Aw, I got myself so worked up about open letters that I forgot about what they were arguing about. Stupid open letters.


Enough about me! What do you think? Would you ever write an open letter? More importantly, would you ever sign somebody else’s open letter?

  1. I just clicked on your link, which led to clicking on another link, which led to clicking on another. What a rabbit hole!

  2. I think part of the reason why J K Rowling was attacked was because she recently signed an open letter criticizing cancel culture. (I’d sign that one, by the way). I think open letters signed by a bunch of famous people (or a lot of non-famous people) still make sense, because would you rather read a single letter – or, if you prefer, an editorial – signed by 150 famous people or 50 separate version of the same letter from 50 of the signers who weren’t too lazy, too busy, or too scared (particular appropriate in case of the “cancel culture letter) to write their own letter? And imagine if we are talking about an open letter signed, say, by 100,000 doctors – would you rather read 30,000 separate letters?

    • I understand what you mean, but I’m looking at this from a writer’s perspective, not a reader’s.

      • And understand your perspective. But I would think caring about the readers’ perspective should be a part of the writer’s perspective. (Unless we’re talking about J K Rowling or someone as big as her who doesn’t have to care).

        • I don’t know. I guess from a reader’s perspective (and addressing your earlier response), I wouldn’t want to read 30,000 letters/opinions, but I might read 2 or 3, and I’d rather read a few honest opinions than one vague letter that’s designed to get a bunch of signatures.

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