Being one of the martial arts instructors at our local dojo I try to instill in our students that training is not always about goals but about the journey. That is to say that the journey of learning never ends. I believe that it’s the same way with writing.
As a writer, I’ve come across some who somehow seem to think that they’ve learned it all.
We’ve all come across them at some point or another.
The author who has decided in his/her mind that they are sitting high above the heavens looking down at the common folk with their lightning eyes ready to cast a bolt of lightning at the unexpected or a morsel of wisdom to the catastrophically stupid as seen in their eyes.
Totally unapproachable, these folks prefer to keep their fans at arms length and hardly take a moment to ask what is important to them.
A few years ago I worked at an original artwork publishing company when one of the artists came to town to sign their limited edition prints. I’m not into name-bashing so I won’t say who it was but this artist demanded nothing less than Perrier (I think I just dated myself) and was clearly not happy if it was some other brand.
I think the most devastating event for me was when I worked for a music label and was asked to attend an interview with one of the bands. When the lead singer of the band was asked a question he turned to me and said, “everyone in the music industry is in it for the money.” His band mate turned to him and said, “No, Lenny is all right.” I’m glad he did but that did not stop the hurt I felt at that attack.
At the time that the comment was made my wife and I had just moved to Nashville with our 8-month old baby and were struggling financially to where at one point I told my wife that I was going to grab my guitar and go downtown and beg. That’s how desperate we were. We had just left a really bad family situation in another state and to escape the dysfunction and raise our daughter in an environment where she could grow up whole we took our tax return and moved away.
We had no family here to turn to. That’s when I got the call about the job. I took it because to not take it would have been irresponsible. Since then we had been struggling to make ends meet at the time of the comment. There were times where I wish I could have gone back to that person and let them know how devastating that comment was but in the end I think it better for me to forgive and move on.
Just this past week I got into a heated discussion with someone who obviously felt that another author’s post was too ridiculous to list as a discussion on a forum. The post wasn’t about how they like to write about elephants who wear tutus or how they can only write after a shot of brandy. It was about structure. I tried to explain that as writers we are all at different levels of our writing career and that what may seem useful to one person may not seem useful to another. It was like talking to a bowl of oatmeal.
Please understand that to lump all authors into this category would be to lump myself into it as well. I’m a published author but I still remember what it was like to struggle to get your work to print. Even after being published I’m still working towards the next thing (i.e. Jupiter Chronicles).
There are some really kind authors out there and I’ve met some of them. Our friend Shellie Brauner is one of them. In fact I’ll go as far to say that if you need a school author visit, please give her a shout. She’s amazing and wonderful with the kids. A music producer who is a close friend of mine, Anthony Annucci of Live Body Productions can be credited with helping me start my writing career. He introduced me to the publisher of my graphic novel, Haven and I’m honored to call him friend and brother.
Authors, we can’t change others including Mr. Author Snooty Pants but we can be careful about how we interact with those who follow our work. In fact, I hate calling them fans. I’d much rather call them friends because they are. If not for them we wouldn’t have readers. I’m a reader. Well, the truth is that my wife is a more avid reader (sorry but I stay really busy) so she qualifies more than I!
Be kind to your fans/friends. Look them in the eyes and grant them the respect they deserve. Hear their words carefully. You never know the positive difference you can make in someone’s life in the span of a few seconds just by listening.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy for all ages.
For more information please visit http://www.leonardoverse.com.