So while I hate to admit it, in all seriousness, I am kind of famous. I am a quasi-celebrity. And while it can be fun in concept, that comes with some baggage. Lately, two people responded negatively to some comments I made on Twitter / Facebook. Nothing too overdramatic, mind you. Nothing insulting. But still, the thing that comes with being sort of famous is that I don’t have the luxury of internet anonymity.
Oh, sure. I’m anonymous. Nobody really cares much what I have to say. But some people might, and that’s a problem. It’s a problem because as a writer, I want to first and foremost be judged by my books, not by my personality, nor my personal views on politics, ghost hunting, or space piracy. Even the most minor comment can discourage or offend someone, and frankly, I don’t see the benefit in irritating current or potential fans.
That’s the problem with the multi-media age. I’d rather not trade on personality because there’s no guarantee you’re going to like me. Paul Stevens, my first editor at Tor, didn’t like me when we finally met face-to-face. By then, we’d been working together long enough though that it didn’t matter. And Paul did learn to like me eventually. Still, I am not arrogant enough to believe that you will like me if you met me. There are plenty of people that don’t.
And you shouldn’t have to like me to enjoy my books. Who I am as a person, what I believe, what I hold dear and what I deride, none of these should be particularly important to you, the reader. But when I offer opinions, when I throw thoughts both casual and controversial out there into the internet, I’m forcing a choice on some people. It’s not a choice I believe they have to make, but some will feel that if they dislike a tweet or a blog or a facebook entry that maybe they can’t like what I do.
It’s just the nature of things.
But I don’t want to be a part of any false equivalency, even if unintentionally. I don’t want anyone to mistake liking me with liking my books. Or disliking me with disliking my books. Or disliking an opinion I hold with . . . well, you get the idea.
If I’d have my druthers, I’d probably just avoid saying anything on the internet at all, but that’s not practical. Pure anonymity is no longer an option. But I can do my best to limit my exposure, to avoid confusing myself as a person with myself as a writer. So I’ll still be out there. I’ll still tweet and offer wry Facebook comments. I’ll still pop in and post entries on this lovely site. But it’s going to be fairly innocuous stuff. Stuff like what I’m working on and maybe a movie or TV show I really like. I’ll be happy to announce booksignings, talk about writing, and mention when I have a new book coming out. But everything else…that’s private property. That’s who I am on the inside and you don’t need to know about it. Especially if it discourages someone out there from enjoying my book.
Unlike nutty folks like Dr. Laura and Ex-Ms. California, I know that what I do isn’t a right. You don’t have to buy my books. I’m lucky to get paid to do this, and I’d rather just play it safe. Or at least, let my artistic expression speak for itself. It never annoys me when someone doesn’t like my books. But the idea that someone might not like my books because they don’t like me, that bothers the hell out of me.
So carry on, internet. I’ll be here, even if I have a lot less to say.
Fighting the good write, Writing the good write,