I'm getting old and feeling lectury today. I'm 42 and a tad hungover but otherwise fine, thanks for asking. Favorite birthday present? Getting carded twice the day before my birthday. Favorite Carding Ever, in fact, happened last night, when the beerguy asked me "Can I see your ID, ma'am?" Ma'am?? And he didn't even say happy birthday!
But back to the lectury bit. I was thinking about the conduct of a writer, me in particular, trying to be professional and all that. I had an email exchange with a very nice writer over this topic recently. Yes. See? People actually email me and I email back and I don't bite (unless you like your emails kinda rough.) Also people send me presents, most recently books and movies. Very Kind People. You know who you are.
So, how to behave as a writer. There's all this talk all the time about being professional. I agree with most of it. Publishing is a business and writing is a job. We're freelancers, which gives us freedom, yeah, but also hangs us out to dry if the market sours or if we do. So, with that in mind...
1. Be nice to people.
Seriously. You never know who's going to buy your next book, who knows your next agent, who reviews books and stories for a living, who will teach you the One Single Thing that launches a career. Don't whine about people in a public forum. Pin on that smile and be nice to EVERYONE. Always.
God, I love you guys. See? Was that so hard?
2. Vanity google.
Keep up on that. It's what other people are going to see, after all, and trust me, they'll google you, too. Stranger things have happened.
3. Laud your successes publicly.
It's okay to toot your own horn, not to excess, but if you have a great review, how are your potential readers going to find it unless you tell them? If you have a story out, tell the world! If you finished a scene or you know who's playing whom in the film version or you won a major award, tell us. We actually want to know!
4. Ignore your failures...publicly.
Rant and moan (and learn) all you want in the privacy of your own home, but don't whine about every godforsaken rejection you get. It's like handing a potential employer a list of all the companies who DIDN'T hire you. The Internet is particularly useful for this sort of damage, which brings me to our next point:
5. There are no take-backs on the Internet.
Consider whatever you post, tweet, shout, or whisper, every rant, every comment, every article and story in cybersapce to be permanent. Are there things on this blog I wish I'd never said? Probably. I'm sure I don't have a perfectly clean record in five years. Oh, you think someone won't look back that far? In five years I've lost count of the folks who've insisted they'd read the entirety of this blog and proved it by referring back to posts. And seriously? Who am I? If they'll do it to me, they'll do it to you. Sometimes I cringe a bit. But generally, this corner is a fair representation of me (okay, except for the lying - up to and not exceeding 40%. It's in the disclaimer). But at some point you gotta...ok, well, this brings me to...
5. Be Yourself.
Bold 16 point italicized YOU. You're an artist, a creative. You're supposed to be different. You're supposed to be deep, and wandery in your thoughts, and a recluse sometimes, and maybe a heavy drinker, too. Talk books and news and say what you think. Let your soul torture itself once in awhile. Dress weird. Ignore the Joneses. Stop conversations to look at the sky. Make notes on napkins in bars. Unabashedly people watch. Ask questions. Flirt. Try not to cringe too much at the weird stuff you say. It's bound to happen, if you're really dredging up all the weird stuff inside for writing. All that is okay.
Actually it's better than okay. It's You and You are the best thing on offer.