Becoming a Curmudgeon

Are writers as a group less willing to read rules and follow directions than the rest of the populace, or is it that I am mostly connected to writers online who don’t know how to follow directions?

I have a book blog, Dragon My Feet, where I post excerpts from books to help authors with a bit of promotion. I thought it was a good idea, but I’m getting exhausted having to explain over and over again that I cannot post what I do not have. For example, in the instructions for Dragon My Feet, I say:

“Please include a short synopsis (blurb) of the story, short bio, a link where I can find a photo of you and one of your book cover, and whatever links you would like me to add. Post the excerpt along with the rest of the information/links as a comment/reply on this page.”

Despite those clear instuctions. I get bios with no information about the book and no excerpt. I get blurbs without any other information, not even the title. I get excerpts without a title letting me know what book it’s an excerpt from. I get dozens of comments/replies by people who say they can’t figure out how to get their excerpt to me since I didn’t leave an email address.

When I’ve mentioned this lack of communication, I’ve had writers tell me flat out, “I don’t follow directions.” Is this part of the creative process? Make up your own rules and expect the world to follow along? Quite frankly, I don’t care if people follow my instructions or not, but as I said, I cannot post what I do not have.

I’m not the only one with such problems. My publishing company sponsored a short story contest with the winner to be published in an upcoming anthology. Some writers mistook the contest for a call for submissions, though the rules clearly stated it was a contest. Others were upset that their submissions were “published” on the site, though the rules clearly stated the submissions would be posted. (According to the vagaries of the internet, once a story has been posted it’s considered published. It doesn’t make sense to me that just because something was posted for a month and then deleted, it’s considered published for all time, but then, I don’t get to make those particular rules.) There was nothing underhanded about the contest — everything was stated up front — and if people didn’t like the way the contest was run, they didn’t have to submit a story.

Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe writers can follow directions. Maybe they just can’t read.

(Do I sound curmudgeonly? There is a good reason for that — I’m rapidly turning into a curmudgeon. I no longer have the desire to embrace the absurdities of humanity, and I see no reason why I should, especially if it causes more work for me.)