I’m an observer of life. I think this is why I’m a writer because there’s so much going on around me that I must take it all in.
It’s not uncommon for me to turn to my hubby and say “Did you see what that woman just did?” And most times he won’t. That’s okay. He’s not an observer.
To this end, I’ve been shocked at what I’ve observed around the web in this week. It wasn’t big, newsworthy items, just smallish things that I’ve seen in the writing community.
An author I formerly respected has built herself into quite a spectacle on a social networking site and seems to be her own biggest fan. That’s okay for her but for me, a potential reader, it’s annoying and off-putting. To “read” her, you’d think she ranked right up there with Mother Theresa. Excuse me. I think just vomited a little in my mouth. Have I bought her book yet? Nope. Still deciding. After all, I can wait months until it comes down to a decent price, but I have decided to drop her from my acquaintance base on the site.
Enough is enough.
Another person, respected in the publishing world, had a big old-fashioned hissy fit on a social networking site this weekend. It doesn’t matter what side of the issue she falls on. The fact remains that she demonstrated less than professional restraint by beating the issue into the ground. Does it affect the way I see this person? Maybe, but then, I’m not impressed by titles and who a person thinks they are. To my way of thinking, respect is earned—not automatically given. Is it disappointing? Yes, but not unexpected. Fame and notoriety is addicting and some people love the power.
And still a third person, and a writer to boot, seems to be a literary “groupie”. You know the type. The ones who follow the “popular, best-selling” authors or agents and editors around the web, comment on their every little thing, post on their blogs, forums, whatever, rave when these folks spit out a wad of gum, etc. Really? I’d say you nailed the whole sycophantic thing. Good job. There might be a restraining order—or four—in your future.
Yes, every person in these instances is human. I get that. We all are, we’re curious, we want to be liked, to fit in and we make mistakes. We’ve all been in these exact situations. The key is to live and learn from them--and don't repeat them.
So what’s my point in doing this blog post? Well, here it is. If I’m noticing these things, you can bet other people have noticed them as well.
Whether we want to believe it or not—and maybe we forget from time to time—but once we have a book published, or we’re a blogger, agent, editor, publisher or anyone else involved in this very small writing community, we’re "out there". In the public eye. In front of our peers, readers and potential bosses--and yes, an editor and publisher is a boss.
We're all being observed.
It’s vital to behave with respect at all times, no matter how much of a fan-girl or boy we want to be, no matter how cheesed off at the world we’ve been, no matter how wonderful we think we are, people are watching and they’re taking note.
And they’re forming opinions and making decisions.
In this day and age, when money is tight and admiration is hard to come by, we need to handle our public identity with grace, dignity and common sense. The world won’t come to an end if we don’t announce to everyone the subject of our current angst. Do it sparingly. This community does rally together around a common complaint, but know when to draw the line and walk away. Sometimes silence is the better part of valor.
Show your love of a good book, but don’t get too chummy with the author. Bond with the movers and shakers in the business but don’t become a nuisance. Comment and walk (or surf) away. Realize you don’t actually walk on water and you will sink if you try.
Always remember, I’m watching you—and so are others.