Today I was pointed at this most excellent post by Marie Sexton about the Muse and its natural enemies, and how sometimes, when the Muse gets wounded, it crawls away to die.
Read the full post here.
This is an incredibly powerful post about the power of the "haters". The wolves out there. They might take many shapes - for me, the wolves are people who harrass authors, who demand to know who we sleep with, and who sticks what into whom, all so that we are "legit" in the eyes of the wolves - or "trolls" as I like to call them.
The trolls are the demons lurking under the bridge. They eat the unwary. Sometimes, they injure the valiant during the combat. Sometimes, they take an arm or a leg. Passage into the next story, the next project, was rarely bought so dearly, has rarely left such gaping wounds. Some knights still soldier on and continue onwards, others don't. Others stay the fuck at home.
The problem is that the trolls don't just live under bridges. If the questing knight KNEW the trolls were under that bridge ahead, he could "weapon up", put on the helmet, change from the gentle steed to the charger, and lower the lance, armoured in his heart and body and ready to do battle with whatever comes. (Yes, knights in the Middle Ages didn't travel fully armoured and ready, they did have to change before the battle.)
The trolls I'm talking about today don't live under bridges. They live in forums, where they tell people to boycott publishers who are not policing the gender of their authors, and they live on mailinglists, and blogs (some even write blogs), and comment on blogs and hang out at any place where a juicy, unsuspecting knight might pass by. They have nothing more to offer than snark, nasty attitude, ignorance and hatred. Some of them even believe that knights quest for the "easy money".
Trolls attack the knight's horse if the knight himself cannot be brought down. They attack the knight's squire, his lady, his friends, even the peasant who told the knight which way to take.
They do it "because". I'm not sure what soul-sucking darkness lives in them so that they revel in the mayhem they can cause.
But to trot out the metaphor further: Being a troll or a knight, is, ultimately, a choice, but we can remember (and take heart in) that it's not the troll that might, eventually, reach the grail castle. Trolls are obstacles to overcome. In Campbell's The Hero's Journey, they are Threshold Guardians that try to scare us and test us and that look ghastly and mean, but ultimately, they don't matter. They have no real power.
I need to remember when I sit down to write that, in fairy tales and "romances" (and that's where the word comes from, in Western literary canon), the knight has a name, and we all remember Percival and Galahad, but I couldn't remember the name of a single troll.