Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday Factoid: Hazing

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you ever go through a hazing ritual to be part of a group?

Well, in general I would not. When I think of hazing, I usually think of clubs and groups and organizations that are exclusive for no inherent reason; I don't think tests and challenges are inappropriate if they make sense as qualifications for joining a group, but I don't think I'd want to be part of a group that says I've got to be humiliated or low-key tortured for the privilege of belonging. "You suffered enough to prove you really want it" doesn't ring any bells for me, and I don't want to keep company with people who are satisfied watching people who want to belong have to run a gauntlet for the privilege. (Especially since a lot of hazing rituals are deliberately cruel and serve no purpose except to keep away people who can't tolerate whatever the challenge is, which very well may not be related to what the group is about.)

That said, I have to admit that having "run the gauntlet" in the publishing world is something I'm a little proud of, and I say stuff that amounts to "no pain no gain!" to people who are querying. But I feel like that's a different thing since being evaluated, criticized, and rejected is not a contrived situation in publishing. It's part of the "game" because it's how you end up with a publisher willing to pay money to take your idea and bring it into the world. It's not just there because you have to suffer to be worth it, though of course most of us do learn a lot through querying and the feedback that sometimes comes with it.

I've also participated in Pitch Wars, which involves a lot of suffering for the applicants--they have to choose mentors, submit to us, and hope we pick them. Then deal with our advice and our demands until the agent round, and then hope like hell that someone picks them. I've been on the side that "hazes" people in that situation. But since it is, again, not fashioned just to create suffering on the grounds that it will prove your worth, I don't feel like it's in the same category.

I think if something really is straight-up hazing, no, I'm not open to it.

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