If someone came up to you, face to face, and said Your writing sucks!, wouldn’t you get a tad offended? Maybe even angry? Might you even do or say something in response that you shouldn’t?

We all like to think that, as writers, great masters of words and sentiments, that we are noble, witty, and able to handle any situation with aplomb.

However, unsurprisingly, authors are people, too, with egos, self-esteem, and feelings – that can be hurt.

And so has the famous indie-author Hugh Howey (someone I consider a good friend).

I can’t imagine what the pressure of being under such a  bright spotlight would be like, but I can understand the urge to lash out at what feels like an attack.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Howey has done so in the past (and later apologized for), he has done it again.

Let me give you the run down.

A relatively unknown author posted a video-rant, detailing why he thought the best-selling Wool series sucked and his utter dismay that it was so popular. He didn’t understand why the book(s) had so few detractors. It seemed that everyone on the planet but him loved the story. He didn’t understand the phenomena and stated, under no uncertain terms, that the book(s) sucked.

Mr. Howey responded to the video on Google+ (read it here) and even went so far as to post the video on his Facebook page. So, of course, his legions of fans (me included) watched the video and some responded.

Needless to say, the relatively unknown author got a bit of traffic and attention – most of it unwanted. He has removed the video and made a public apology to Mr. Howey.

In my opinion, after watching the Wool Sucks video-rant and then reading Mr. Howey’s response, I thought Mr. Howey conducted himself rather well under the circumstances. Passive-aggressive? Most definitely.

But I would have done much worse. The video’s tone was mean-spirited. If it had been my work the fellow was talking about, I would have been deeply hurt.

Would I have responded correctly? Would I have responded at all? I don’t know and I hope I am never in the position to find out.

If the issue ended there, I wouldn’t be posting about it. But the author, okay, let’s just name him already, John Lydon, seemed to sincerely regret that he posted the video and seemed genuinely hurt by Mr. Howey’s big-author tactics of getting his fans to mob his video-rant. He alerted all his new viewers (and me) to something called ‘punch down’.

Now, is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

It seems so to me, but Mr. Tobias Buckell‘s post on the topic here does illuminate why we should always follow one of the few ‘true’ rules in life and writing:

Sometimes, it is just better to walk away.

Lesson learned.