Monday, March 17, 2014

The Truth About Writers: The Good, The Bad, and the Snooty

Greetings and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Yes, I am wearing green, being mostly Irish.  On this happy Irish day, I shall import a little Celtic wisdom to any aspiring or newly published writers.

In my years of writing and and the goal to be published, I have met and even become friends with several well known and even legendary authors at various conventions and workshops over time.  On the whole, these people are wonderful, kind, friendly, supportive of your writing goals, and happy for any success you may have.  They make you feel like part of a literary family.  It is a usually a positive and inspiring experience.   The warmth and genuine support of your fellow writer is great.    I love these people.  BUT-you must know that there is always a bad apple in the basket somewhere and you could experience a nasty encounter with someone who is not the usual warm and supportive author.

This happened to me only once, and the strange thing is this writer was just newly published author first time.  This person (let's just call this person Snooty Face) was lucky enough to get an agent and  got a book contract with an well known publisher.  Now I was recently published too, though with a smaller publishing house .  I am proud of my novel, Gate of Souls, A Familiar's Tale, Book 1.  I was getting great reviews and even though I was not selling big, I accepted that I was an unknown  author in a small publishing house and this would take time.  Small publishing houses do not often make it into big book sellers like Barnes & Noble.   We work hard and use whatever resources  we can (thank you Amazon and KINDLE!).  My publisher knew this too and believed in my writing.  Still does.   This other writer was a casual acquaintance and we lived locally in same area at the time.

I offered Snooty Face a copy of my novel as a gesture of friendship (Snooty did not reciprocate this gesture).  When we met for coffee to hear some good news, Snooty Face gave an odd opinion on my novel.   Now, anyone who has read Gate of Souls knows it is heroic traditional fantasy with sorcerers, familiars, tons of magic, a complete world structure specific to that secondary world.  My familiars in my book live for centuries like their mages, they talk, have magical abilities, and are not regular animals.  They are special.  My magical system in my world, according to my publisher and other authors who have read me, is highly structured, consistent, organized, and believable.  The only thing Snooty had to say about my novel was "Why didn't the owl die from eating toast?"   Really?  The owl (Belwyn) talks and is a thousand years old and has telekinesis.  The toast was a concern?  Snooty also did not look me in the eye and then launched into a diatribe about how Snooty designs DNA and biology to make a creature and then bragged about all the big book numbers Snooty was getting from Borders and then quickly avoided any discussion on my novel.

Snooty did not say they disliked or liked by novel, but was quick to try to plant a seed of doubt in my ability.  Not all books are for everybody.  We all have different tastes.  I accept that.  But Snooty was completely dismissive and not objective of my novel and only wanted to talk about their own success and then bounced away happy to have done evil.  People who work that hard to make you feel bad about yourself or attack your confidence are jerks with bloated egos who only get validation from making other people feel bad-because they are jealous.  I used to wonder if my opinion was solitary until I met a few others who had toxic exchanges with Snooty Face.  Snooty also plays the game, because Snooty grovels before the feet of the famous and well known authors.  After a time, I truly came to believe that this person was jealous.  The derisive attitude about my novel was not an opinion but fear of my talent.  They felt threatened by a fellow author, despite their own blessings, and acted like a toadstool-small but poisonous.
You cannot do anything about toadstools.  So ignore them, because you know when you are great and so do other people.  Most other writers that you will be lucky enough to encounter are great people-friendly and supportive and generous.  Their light is warm and creative.  Just beware of the the rare toadstool.
More later.

Verna McKinnon


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