After a very, busy week following my appearance at WisCon 2009, I felt it was time to sit down and share my philosophy toward other writers, readers and critics. In the past, two weeks I’ve met more new people on-and-offline than I have in the past year. Since many people are unfamiliar with me and my work, I thought it best to put into words that which I feel so passionately about…
I believe that both readers and critics, regardless of education or background, have a right to their informed opinion. By “informed,” I mean I would hope they’d read a book before providing an in-depth dissertation about it. Sometimes, I am amazed how deep that rabbit hole of criticism goes. Sure, I have opinions about the books I read (and admittedly a few popular ones I haven’t) but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize how valuable all books are. Even though I might not like a particular story, it might appeal to someone else. In my mind, that’s a win-win scenario for literacy because it means that there’s a story for everyone.
When it comes to my own work, I know that what I write may not appeal to everyone. No one likes crappy reviews or readers trashing their work, because even though writing is a “job” (e.g. you often get paid) it is also an extension of yourself. Immutable and defined, a writer’s published work becomes a testimony not only to the voices we hear in our heads, but the whispers we hear through the trees, in rush-hour traffic, or on the beach.
Writing often gets depicted romantically, as if being an author means that you have finally reached a utopia in which the entire world bows at your feet for your brilliance, your personality and your creativity. Nothing — and I mean nothing — could be further from the truth. Creativity, in any form, comes with a price because creative people think differently from non-creative people. Different for me meant “not like everyone else,” which led to a lot of confusion, personal angst and career building frustration until I started meeting other writers.
Although I have a college degree in writing, it wasn’t until I fell into the gaming industry that I truly felt welcomed. Professional authors and game designers welcomed me as a “new” writer, even though they had no real reason to do so. Their kindness shocked me, because in my past almost everyone I knew viewed other writers as “competition.” This harsh attitude had affected me deeply: for a number of years I was very bitter and negative about anyone else’s success, yet arrogant about my own. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I was not only showed compassion and understanding by perfect strangers, but leads and writing assignments as well.
I’ve been a part of the gaming industry now for six or seven years, and I have not forgotten what a difference positivity makes. A single conversation over beer was the catalyst that helped me transform bitterness into positive energy. It is my hope that I can bring that same kindness that was shown to me by having a supportive presence on-and-offline for other like-minded writers as my time permits.
Part of my long-term goal is to be a novelist (either part-time or full-time), and admittedly I don’t know if that will ever happen. Regardless, it is my belief that celebrating someone else’s successes is just as important as cheering for your own. Only through a sense of togetherness will we build a creative community that supports and helps one another.