I’ve been watching the train wreck that is Lena Dunham and the spanking she’s getting over her book…specifically the issue about sexually abusing her sister. Sexual abuse is abhorrent. Period. So the fact that she writes about it so openly and shamelessly, she had to be prepared for the backlash of disgust.
But no. Instead, she goes on the offensive by having a public hissy fit and insulting those who find her brand of honesty on equal footing with the muck at the bottom of a cesspool. Come on, what did she expect? That people would embrace her sexual abuse of an innocent child by calling her brave and innovative, or whatever goosh that seeps out of the minds of idiots? I remain humbled by the virility of her and her editor’s insanity.
And yes, what on earth was her editor at Random House thinking? At the very least, I would have urged/stood on a desk and screamed that Lena approach this subject with sensitivity and purpose. Analyze the reasons behind revealing this sickening bit of bovine tripe (yes, Pricey, tell us how you really feel), and discuss why it’s so important to once-again humiliate your sister. Is it for redemption? Clarification? An apology? What? The reasons must be just. Anything less, and it’s nothing more than salacious bovine tripe…which is pathetic on any literary level.
Look, we all know that controversial subjects make great news and sell lots of books.
I look no further than our own bestselling book, Jan’s Story, by CBS journalist Barry Petersen. Barry’s book contains a very controversial topic, and we discussed it at great length during the editing phase. In fact, I had a really hard time with it and had to be talked down off the ledge a few times by the hubs, who is calm and resourceful to a fault. I came to honor the fact that this particular topic really needed discussing because Alzheimer’s is such a cruel disease and destroys everyone who comes near it. And yes, predictably, we caught some heat for it. But we expected it, and turned the controversy around into fruitful, honest discussion. Those who chose to denigrate were free to do so, but we met the discussion head on, and I remain extremely proud of that.
Fact are that you can’t write about controversial topics and not expect to take heat. First and foremost, you must be prepared how to respond to negative comments in order to turn them into pluses. You DO NOT go on the offensive and commence to insulting your readership. You’ll find yourself crucified. And this is where a publisher needs to employ real-live grown up editors who understand how to head this off at the pass by ensuring you, the author, don’t accidentally make an ass of yourself à la Lena.
Understand that not everyone sees you the way you see you, and that you may come off as a clodpated nerfherder. You and your publisher’s first order of business is to Protect, Justify, and Defend…not Abuse, Spit, and Accuse the reader. Own it, baby. Avoid the Lena.