Or, Don’t Be That Guy*
I’m taking a break from the War of Art commentary, today, to do something less topical, and more time sensitive.
This is a post I’m not terribly looking forward to. In part because it’s been handled many other places, by many other people. Most of them better writers than I. So far, though, they’re all talking about the event. Which isn’t really what I care about, per se.
Last night, John Ward, head of GAMA, and concom for Origins Gaming Fair disinvited Larry Correia as Writer GoH. Not with a phone call. Not with an email. Via a post on the con’s FB page (since deleted). Larry’s been left hanging, having paid for airline tickets to a con at which he’s no longer welcome.
So be it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m furious that a friend of mine is getting libeled. Again. Another friend, I should say. Having sat just outside the inner circle for a few years, it’s been disgusting to watch as Larry, then Brad, then Kate and Sarah have had their professional reputations dragged through the mud by a group of people who have never interacted with them or their work. But, frankly, my outrage fatigue is about maxed out. Besides, I want to talk about something else.
It’s been barely twenty-four hours, and things are still shaking out. That said, you and I can glean any number of lessons from witnessing the furor surrounding this debacle. The only one I actually care to dwell on is this: when you are acting as a writer, act the professional.
That’s the simple version.
It’s more complicated, especially these days. As writers, authors, and publishers, we wear a lot of hats. Some days, we’re deep in the word mines, digging out ore. Other days, we’re crouched before the forge, hammering out story. Yet other days, it’s wresting graphic design from the elemental chaos, or crystalizing design and layout from the aether. Which is always So. Much. Fun.
And then there are the days we’re representing our brand to the public. If we’re lucky, we get invited to a convention. We travel, usually at our own expense (those of us who are down the Official Alphabetical List of Author Success a ways). We hope to have a good time. We hope to maybe convince a few people to buy a book.
And sometimes that works out, and it’s great. And sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s disappointing. And sometimes, so much such an avalanche of manure gets dumped on you that you have to respond. In which case, you do it like this.
And then you let it go.
Unless things escalate. In which case, don’t forget you also have your brand to defend. No, seriously. Don’t forget that as an author and publisher, your ability to sell is based not only on your skill as a writer, but also what people think about you, and how you’re discussed in the public sphere.
Personally, I dislike confrontation. I tend get the eye twitchy, and the red haze, and the shaking of the hands. I deal with this by being coldly polite. And by avoiding it as much as possible. Which is my issue. If this kind of frustration comes my way, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do. It’s the kind of thing that gives me cold sweats.
My advice? Be polite. Be upfront that you’re only responsible for yourself and your actions. Call out attempts to obfuscate the issue, or draw you into subjective mudslinging. But whatever you do, and here’s the Most Important Bit: keep writing. Don’t let genuinely lousy behavior distract you from the work in progress. That’s your purpose, and if they keep you from writing, they win. So don’t let them.
*Or That Girl, That Neuter, That Hermaphrodite, or That Misc.