Because we are nearing the heart of convention season, an oldie but a goodie. A reminder:
The Wisest Person At The Party
I’m going to go over one of my favorite subjects yet again. Oh, we’ve visited here before, you and I, assuming of course that you bother to read what I write here. Still, some places need to be seen more than once, don’t they? Some subjects seem to need a fresh viewing from time to time.
Not all that long ago a few of my peers were talking about one of the big boys. Mostly what they had to say was pleasant enough. A few people seemed puzzled by the gent’s actions, but not shocked. The person in question had turned them down for blurbs.
Yes, you in the back with your hand held high? “What’s a blurb?” A blurb is that little sentence or two that writers ask their peers and those they admire or envy to give to them regarding their latest books. Just what their value is seems to be a very serious question to a lot of people, but the basic notion is that these little quotes could potentially help sell books. As a point of fact I’m exceedingly fond of selling books, so I recommend that if you can get blurbs, you do so.
Now, I’d like to put this into perspective if I may. If we work under the assumption that the level of popularity and sales attained is a quantifiable issue, and we then work under the belief that this issue can be studied and used to our advantage, then it’s safe to assume that someone like Stephen King, Dean Koontz or J.K. Rowling are likely to get substantially more requests for blurbs than someone like yours truly. Why? Because they are household names. True, not every person on the planet knows who they are, but millions do and that says something substantial. Thousands might know who the hell I am, which means that using the earlier assumptions, the aforementioned authors probably get (to keep with my so far scintillating numerical analogy) butt loads more requests for blurbs than I do. I get enough that I have to regretfully turn down far more than I can accept. It’s become a necessity. I have to write, you see, and I have a day job, and a family and, well, a life. I cant spend all of my time reading, much as I might want to, and I insist on actually READING anything I might be asked to blurb. Damned rude of me, I know, but there it is. My point here being that the folks who do the asking of some of the bigger names run the same risk of getting a “So sorry, no time right now.” as anyone else.
But I digress (maybe). We were talking about politics.
Oh, now I remember.
I made a comment amidst the very small and private group. I pointed out that I was fairly certain the author they were discussing pretty much didn’t like me. A few others clarified who they knew that this author likes and doesn’t like.
And here we go. According to most sources, there is only one other writer that this particular writer actively dislikes. Examples were given. I nodded and listened.
Now, I bet a few of you are annoyed with me because I haven’t mentioned a single name regarding this conversation. In fact the only names I’ve mentioned at all were three that I used to show the difference in magnitudes between my success and that of authors who have become “name brands.”
Guess what? That’s the best you’re going to get out of me.
I don’t like them. I never have. They merely make things murkier than they need to be. I may not like an author. An author may not like me. It doesn’t matter. We don’t have to collaborate on a novel any time soon and even if we did, I think the professionals would set aside egos and differences long enough to get the job done.
See? There I go again, pointing out that this is my job. My career. Like that should make any difference at all.
It does, of course. I’m in it, as the saying goes, to win it. Yes, I love writing. Yes, I would still write if I never sold another piece. I will, however, do my damnedest to sell every piece that I write, or barring that, I’ll figure out why I couldn’t sell it. Just like other professional writers do. Just like comic artists and actors and even the occasional poet does. It’s called professionalism.
There are probably a lot of people who can say things about my writing that are negative. Hell, a lot of them already have and unless a miracle occurs, a good number more will in the future. There are a lot of folks who could probably debate my personal grooming habits and whether or not my deodorant fails in the height of the summer should they be bored enough.
Most of the time, however, what they can’t legitimately accuse me of is saying anything nasty about my peers. (Hey, I’m not a saint. I’ve slipped up a few times).
Why? Because I’m a nice guy? Well, I am, but that isn’t the point. The point is I keep my mouth shut. If I have a problem with someone, I take it up with that person alone and in private. I don’t post it on a bulletin board, nor do I email a few thousand of my closest friends and then wonder how it is that someone mysteriously heard words I would have never said in front of them.
It doesn’t take much for a simple comment to get blown way the hell out of proportion. No, I’m not pointing fingers here, I’m just reflecting on something my mother once told me. Something I’ve tried to keep close to my heart ever since I got old enough to understand politics.
She said “The wisest person at a party is the one who keeps his opinions to himself.”
Think back on the last four cases of serious drama at work or amongst your peers and see if you can disagree with that.
It’s called professionalism.
How do I know that the big name author doesn’t much like me?
He made it clear on a phone message that I wasn’t supposed to hear.
I heard it.
I deleted it.
The person who was supposed to hear it never heard it, by the way. That person would have been embarrassed and put into an awkward situation.
No harm. No foul. No arguments.
Just that simple.
I know that certain friends of mine do not like others. I know that certain editors I deal with don’t much like certain writers and vice versa. It doesn’t matter. I know it. That knowledge does not change my dealings with the individuals in question. When I am around that big name who could take or leave me, I give no indication that I overheard something I was never meant to hear, because it’s no one’s business but my own and I intend to keep it that way. There’s no reason to make two peers of mine feel the least bit awkward over a tidbit I was never meant to hear. It serves no agenda that is worthwhile and it most certainly wouldn’t get me a blurb from said author. Okay, neither does NOT spreading that news around but that isn’t the point, now is it?
Politics suck. They don’t help your career and if they do, you’d do well to remember that political climates change all the time.
Just something to consider before you open your mouth at a convention, or make a post on a bulletin board, or say something to a casual acquaintance at a book signing.