Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Should I thank this friend in my acknowledgments?

I need a little advice here.

When I wrote my first novel, I got a tremendous amount of help and feedback from a very dear friend whose name I will not reveal here. She was smart, gentle and insightful. Of course, it was always my intention to thank her in my acknowledgments.

Several months ago, however, for reasons that are still unclear to me, this friend dropped me like a hot ball of wax. She politely told me she was just too busy for the friendship. It was hurtful, but I’m a big girl and a busy mama, and got on with it. However, she followed this up with a few passive-aggressive attacks. This was excruciating, as I wouldn’t have hurt her for all the Hershey’s Kisses in the world, and have no idea why she would want to do that to me.

Again, I turned the other cheek and got on with it, as there was nothing else I could do. (That’s the infuriating thing about passive-aggressive attacks. You can’t stick up for yourself—you can’t even argue—because the attacker will always respond with a righteous, Moi? I meant no harm!)

Still, I intended to thank her in my acknowledgments, because no matter what else came after, her help with the book was undeniable.

Now, as you probably know, I’ve sold another book. And since this individual was such a huge part of the first book, I thought she’d like to know. Keep in mind that though we rarely correspond these days, we do maintain a cordial rapport. So, even though I knew she had already heard the news, I gave her the courtesy of dropping her a line to let her know. She never answered back, which I take as the final statement on this friendship. Am I hurt? You betcha. Because regardless of what transpired between us, there’s no force on heaven or earth that would have kept me from congratulating her if the shoe were on the other foot.

So now, dear reader, I need some opinions. Since the role she played in the book is not diminished, do I stick with my original plan and thank her in the acknowledgments, or just forget she ever existed?

To make this a little more complicated, including her in the acknowledgments is not necessarily taking the high road, as I’m pretty sure she would prefer not to be mentioned. So in a sense, if I wanted to sink to her level of passive-aggression, I would not only include her, but print her name in bold type.

What would you do in my shoes?


Myfanwy Collins said...

Geez, Ellen. That's a tough one. I'm not sure what I'd do. You sound really hurt, though, and I admire that you're thinking about the right way to handle it.

dennis mahagin said...

This is such a quandary.


My feeling is you oughta thank her in the acknowledgments section of the SECOND book, as that would really spin her out, I think.

Then you could go:

"Oh mercy me... How did this happen I can't imagine. We both know you had nothing to do with the 2nd book!... But you know what I really meant, dear and that's the important thing."


She would appreciate that, no?

I'm bad.


RobinSlick said...

I would let it go and move on.

And if you believe that...

P.S. It's "her" loss, and it's a big one.
P.P.S. Hi, Dennis!

Ellen said...

Myf - Thank you, my friend! I knew you would understand.

Dennis - Bad is GOOD! Hehe. I like the way you think.

Robin - Her loss indeed. You're the best!

katrina said...

Passive-agressive people are truly painful to deal with. And I have found they tend to cower from honesty and directness.
Have you considered confronting this person with a simple, "How would you feel about me acknowledging you in the publication of my first novel?"

If she says she would be honored, then do it. If she asks you to not give her one, then don't. In any event, your conscience is clear, and you are free to move on.

And I'd definitely end the relationship, no matter what.

Ellen said...

That's good advice, Kat. Of course, given the fact that she didn't respond to my last email at all, I think there's a good chance she won't respond to this one either. Perhaps I'll make it clear in my email that if I don't hear from her, I'll assume it's a no on the acknowledgment. Thanks for the input!

Richard Lewis said...

Strictly keeping to the acknowledgements and not to ramfications of relationships: If she was helpful, then thank her. You're thanking for the *help*, which is neutral. Such is my sage advice.

Patricia said...

I'm sorry this happened to you Ellen, I would acknowledge her, and be done with it, and not as you say, because you're taking the high road, but because she did help you, I'm sorry about this, us women are very complicated creatures at times, all the time..LOLOL....xo

Ellen said...

Thanks for weighing in, Richard and Patricia. I think I'm getting closer to figuring out how to handle this. At the moment, I do plan on including her. I'm just deciding whether or not to give her the heads up first.

SusanD said...

Yeah, I'm Miss Fucking Manners, but here you go:

Thank her. She was helpful, and you've then acknowledged it. Even if you'd ask her and she'd say, "No, don't thank me," there's a HUGE chance that'd only fry her ass even more and get her truly angry with you. It's like the whole, "Don't do anything for my birthday," sort of thing that people pull. So thank her.

Were it me? I'd thank her in the book alright. And then if she ever did write to me again? I'd then say, "Fuck off."

Sorry this happened to you, Ellen. I know this is easily said and not easily done, but try not to take it personally.

Frankly, I hate people. I think most people suck. And I've been thinking about people who don't suck recently and you're one of the FIRST that popped into my mind. Why? Cause I don't even know you that well, but you've always been kind and supportive and encouraging to me, and to everyone else that I've seen you interact with. You're a great dame. So screw this bitty and on with it! Thanks.