Integrity: being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.
On the writers’ forum I frequent, there are regular discussions about how to market books and increase your ‘visibility’ as a writer. Sometimes, brand new forum members start a thread along the lines of ‘why don’t we buy each other’s books and give them good reviews?’ They are very quickly taken to task by the long term forum members. There’s a name for this in the writing profession: sock puppets. And we don’t want any part of that, thank you very much. If I don’t have integrity as a writer, then quite frankly I shouldn’t be writing. (Just as, the day I think I know everything there is to know about teaching, is the day I should stop teaching.)
My books have attracted a wide range of reviews and comments over the years. That is how it should be: five star reviews and one star reviews. Not everyone likes what I write or how I write it, but enough people do. It’s good to be Marmite – love me or hate me, but you can’t ignore me.
When I’m asked to read a book with the view to giving it a ‘puff’ – which I am fairly frequently – I will only ever give a positive quote if I genuinely like what has been written. (Otherwise, I decline politely: the opposite of ‘puffing’ a book exists too, where writers have been known to leave critical reviews on a competitor’s work.)
There’s no test for integrity, there’s no treatment that can give it back to you once you’ve lost it. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. Earlier today the DfE tweeted a link to this on ‘maladministration of the phonics screening test’. Apparently they are concerned about a lack of integrity in the teaching profession. They later tweeted another link that made me raise my eyebrows in surprise. Enough said.
Now where did I put my sock?