People read this stuff.
Frankly, that amazes me.
Why anyone would care what a humble novelologist has to say about . . . well . . . anything is beyond me. I suppose my thoughts on writing are worth noting. Although I think even that’s a stretch because there are plenty of popular books, movies, TV shows that I find absolutely dreadful and scads of maligned books, movies, TV shows that I think are genius. If I was truly a master of storytelling, I could explain to you why people like Twilight or Caprica, and I could also tell you why Manimal and Automan are largely forgotten. But I can’t.
I like to think of myself as a smart guy, but I’m just another Terran trying to figure things out. My career has placed me in the spotlight. True, it’s not a very large spotlight, but I am, nonetheless, a person of interest. I hesitate to use the word celebrity, but it’s not entirely wrong. And there’s some responsibility that comes with that.
Maybe the biggest burden is that I am not allowed a casual opinion. If you’re a regular reader of these things (and I’ve been led to believe that there’s a few of you out there) then you’ll notice I rarely comment on books, movies, etc. Oh, sure, I might mention a movie every now and then or a book I particularly enjoyed, but for the most part, I try to limit my comments. The reasons are varied. I don’t want to insult anyone. These are, strangely, people I work with. Or might work with. If I said, The Dresden Files stink!, and it got back to Jim Butcher, that could be awkward. Although that’s just an example. For the record, I have nothing against The Dresden Files, and I’ve met Jim Butcher who is a heck of a nice guy.
That’s kind of weird too. Before I was published, I was free to blog anything I wished. Not that I blogged at all before I was published, but if I had, no one would’ve really cared what I had to say. Even if I did slander a writer’s work, I wouldn’t run into them. And even if I ran into them, they wouldn’t have known who I was. I could’ve written Frank Miller is a horrible writer a million times, and why should he care? Okay, he most likely doesn’t. But if he does, there’s always the possibility, however slight, that we might meet at some future time, and that might be unpleasant. He might even order his solid gold robot bodyguards to work me over while he watches, perched atop a pile of money, laughing his ass off.
The other thing is that to criticize another writer is to basically attack them in their pocketbook. We don’t talk about this enough, but word of mouth is important. Word of mouth can make or break you in this biz. And to say something bad about another writer is to attack them in a very personal way. I know because whenever I read a negative review or comment about anything I’ve written, I can’t help but wince. It doesn’t matter if every website and magazine in the world declares my latest book to be the best thing since laser vision goggles, if one says something unflattering, then I’m going to lose a customer. And I want people to buy my books. Oodles and oodles of people. I don’t mind being criticized. I don’t mind if someone dislikes something I’ve written. That comes with the territory. We shouldn’t be afraid to share our opinions. Still, it’s hard for me to hit another writer in the bank account. And, yes, I’m aware that Frank Miller, Jim Butcher, and most other popular writers are not in need of my endorsement nor in danger of my criticism. But still, I take it seriously.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,