Being a professional novelologist is a weird gig, gang. It’s not because I get paid to make up stories, although that is a bit odd if you think about it. Yet no odder than getting paid a million dollars to swing a bat at a ball or drive a car really, really fast. And it’s not because people look up to me for my accomplishments, meager as they are in a sociological or cosmic sense.
It’s because, as a modern writer, I’m not allowed to be quiet. Simply put, I’m expected to be something of a celebrity, a personality.
Welcome to the internet age.
Out of all the surprises that were awaiting me on the other side of published author, this is perhaps the strangest. Because writers are not interesting. And writers are not cool. And writers are not charismatic by nature. We’re just people who write, and writing, by its nature, is a solitary activity. Especially novels, where the bulk of my creative work is done sitting in front of a computer and typing. It’s not much different than an office job, except that I do it at home, alone, sometimes late at night, sometimes while only wearing pajamas. And only a few decades ago, that would’ve been enough. Write the book, get the book published, collect your check, and repeat.
It’s not quite the same anymore.
I have a blog. I contribute to the Orbit Books website. I am probably very soon to contribute to the Piper Books website (my always lovely German publisher). And then, there’s the personal appearances. Not a lot of them, mind you, as not many people really care enough to invite me anywhere. But this year, I had more conventions and speaking engagements than last year, and I expect that I’ll have even more next year. I will if things go as they should anyway.
It’s a bit confusing. Given my druthers, I’d probably just avoid the public eye all together. It’s not that I mind public speaking or that I dislike being surrounded by adoring fans, lively aspiring writers, and fellow professional writers. To tell the truth, it can be a hell of a lot of fun. (So if you want to send any invites my way, feel free to do so because that’s my job and I am a very cool guy to meet in person. Really, I am.)
At the last meeting of the DFW Writer’s Workshop, someone remarked that I was the charismatic guy, the helpful dude who talks to all the visitors, tries to make the new members feel batter, and just generally makes a good impression. It’s who I am now. It’s just how this job has changed me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to figure out a topic for my Orbit Books contribution this week. Then I have to check my Facebook and Twitter. Then I gotta squeeze in some World of Warcraft. And, if there’s time, I guess I’ll do a little writing too.
Busy, busy, busy.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,