This spurred some thought for me. It's good advice, and hell, it's always fun to make fun of crazy authors. We're such easy targets. But it reminded me again that writers have more of a public image than we often think we do.
If you've sold your writing, you've just left private life and taken a stride, however small, into public life. I first realized it when a stranger at a local con approached me and knew me from Electric Spec and Sex Scenes. Now it happens more and more. I have around a hundred visits to the blog a day. I've found I'm fairly well known around writing circles in the Internet (I have Google Alerts on my aliases, so yeah, I know what you're saying about me). I've been online for over 6 years under Sex Scenes and my own name, and now my pseudonym. I apparently, for better or for worse, have an "image" to maintain and control.
This means a lot of things. I don't print personal emails to me, even rejections, and I selectively forward only a few to trusted friends and colleagues. I try to maintain some degree of control over the pictures posted of me (yes, I've actually asked for pictures to be removed from FB and other places. Everyone's always politely responded.) It involves being SUPER-DUPER nice to everybody I meet, so give me a shove if I haven't been. As an editor with Electric Spec, I don't just represent me, but I represent the magazine and everyone involved with it, including our many talented writers. I know some famous writers and other minor celebrities, but you'll notice I don't name drop (except to promote their work). I go to parties in the neighborhood and acquaintances approach me about my stories and writing. Sometimes it's the last thing I want to discuss, but out in public, I have to maintain the image.
I go into every situation knowing that I must live up to my public image even when it doesn't jive with my private life because I've chosen to maintain an aura of positiveness about my public image. (Good Lord, not goody-two-shoes, just relatively happy. And I might disagree with something, but I try to do so politely. The times I haven't have always bitten me in the ass.) Because I do have a public image. Everyone does, but if you're writing and being read, even just a little bit, you have more of a public image than other people.
Writing is a job and maintaining a public image is part of the job. There is no such thing as a writer who gets to sit in a hole and write. Not if you want to sell. I wish someone had told me that going in, though I learned it pretty quickly, and the hard way, too. So, if you're new to writing, or if you're not, I'm paying it forward. And don't forget to check your teeth for green stuff either.