The Baker Street Irregulars is a club of people that live and breathe Sherlock Holmes. That is to say that they have probably read every single Arthur Conan Doyle story more than twice. They have also, probably, written a number of Sherlock Holmes stories, or stories that draw much of their inspiration from the Great Detective.
So here’s the thought experiment.
One day I’m invited to a meeting. I’m not there to be an official member yet, it’s just a social get together wherein I will rub shoulders with the members and they’ll get a feel for whether or not I’ll fit into their club. I overhear a conversation between two of the members.
“The drug usage provided a very real weakness to the otherwise amazing character of Sherlock Holmes. It shows the reader that genius has terrifying limits, not the least of which is the inability to cope with boredom. It’s no wonder Holmes turned to cocaine for stimulus.”
I storm over to the two members, in full view of the other people at the party and loudly declare, “Whoa there! Sorry to butt in….Sherlock smoking weed? That never happened in the books and if it did, they wouldn’t have sold because that was Victorian times. No one abused drugs in the Victorian era!”
What do you think would happen?
At best, someone might politely snicker at my naivete about the drug free Victorian Era. They might pat me on the head and share a polite laugh at my blundering lack of social skills. At worst, they’d tell me to get the hell out and never come back. (Right after pointing out the difference between weed and cocaine)
Because any Sherlock Holmes fan worth their salt would likely remind me that not only was drug abuse prevalent in Victorian England, but Arthur Conan Doyle did depict his character as having a drug addiction. Doctor Watson (Doyle’s viewpoint character) made mention of Holmes’ narcotic induced state, in the opening chapter of A Study in Scarlet. And even alleged fans who haven’t read The Sign of Four, are well aware of what it means when you say, “7 Percent Solution”.
This post was inspired by an argument made by a mystery write on Wattpad. It is not my intention to troll, bully, or belittle this author. This person was quite comfortable with their ignorance and it was a source of amusement when this person defended their actions with, “That’s the way I see things.”
Roy saw his tiger as big cuddly kitten.I wonder how that turned out.
You don’t have to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes to write mystery. You don’t even have to read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories. But my main philosophy on writing is that if you’re going to make a statement and attach your name to it, you’d better be prepared to defend it when someone challenges you. This author did not want to defend their statement, they didn’t like it when I offered to tell them what story the drug use was mentioned in if they only admitted they were wrong. And likely, they lost me as a potential reader, because they didn’t want to own the small bruising caused by their pride.
I’ve been proven wrong before. I can admit when I’m wrong, so long as the party that proves me wrong has actual proof and not just a self-deluded misconception. When this alleged fan of the “Actual Books” claimed that Sherlock Holmes was never a drug addict, I replied to her as someone who knew otherwise and had the proof on hand to debunk the claim.
Be prepared to have your readers challenge you. You are, of course, welcome to have a hissy fit and storm off the stage, flipping off the crowd as you go. But you’ll impress far more readers if you stand your ground, explain yourself, and when proven wrong, admit it gracefully. (Also, if you wear your ignorance proudly like a peacock’s feathers, I have no compunctions about responding to you in the same posturing manner. Why should I be gracious when you aren’t?)