Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Creeps I Knew

I have a really healthy work ethic when it comes to my writing. I love to write and I work on my fiction almost every day. The only times that I don't actually find myself working on a novel or writing a short story are the days when I'm in the midst of vacation or outdoor activities. When I go to hike a mountain or canoe a river or snorkel in a spring or along the coast I don't write.

This is the difference between me and a lot of the other writers with whom I once socialized.

In my younger days I tended to seek out and spend a lot of time with other people who either were writers or who wanted to work professionally as writers. Initially I got a kick out of meeting people who shared a similar passion for writing and creating. However, after a while, their company began to wear on me. It's natural for writers to be at least mildly selfish and egotistical. But the writers I found myself around had passed a certain point. They were pretty much uniformly obsessive about writing and--worse than that--obsessed with their own "greatness".

One guy I used to spend a lot of time with became disillusioned over his inability to sell a novel to a major publisher. He was forever whining about it and damning all of the editors at the larger houses as fools for not recognizing his genius. (I'm not exaggerating.) He was a pal so I put up with his near-constant complaining. Until, one day, he told me that he was probably doomed to never be appreciated in this life, but that when he died, his genius would be recognized the world over.

It took a great deal of effort, but I bit my tongue and kept my mouth shut. However, that was it. That was the straw that broke this particular camel's back. After that, I just never could look at the guy in the same way as in the past. He'd gone from being a sometimes amusing friend to an egocentric creep.

Over the years I've always tried to keep an objective eye on my writing career. I've never consciously complained about rejection. The way I saw it was that any editor who rejected my work must have had a good reason for doing so. I never begrudged them their decisions and if I ever spoke to any of those folk at all, it was to thank them for the time they spent with my manuscript. Their time is money, after all, and they do any writer a big favor by taking some of that time to review a work.

During those days of my youth, I would attend lots of science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic book conventions. Initially, I enjoyed hanging around with writers to pick up tips, share market knowledge, and just talking shop. Those were pretty good days, in the beginning. But after a time I kept running into that same old song and dance:


Trying to talk to these guys and gals was a struggle.

'How about...'


'Have you ever been to...'


'Why don't we...'

"ME ME ME ME ME!!!!"

I don't mind listening to that stuff for a while, but too much of it grates. One day I realized that it had been over a year since I'd attended a genre convention. That stretched into two years, then three, then five...I never looked back. I've been considering attending a few shows in the coming year, but I'm not so sure. I fear that I'd encounter that same old droning, and I sickly recall why I'd stopped going in the first place.

Whenever I'd talk to some of these cats and ask them what they did when they weren't writing or reading, they would often just stare dumbly at me. As if they weren't aware that there was anything else to do. I've always had a number of hobbies to take the edge off of things. If I have a problem with a novel, I can go for a long hike to clear my head. If a short story plot isn't working out, a trip to go snorkeling can sometimes help. Or Carole and Andy and I will try out a new restaurant and sample different foods. Sometimes I'll take out a pad and pencil and do figure drawings. The things is, the world is filled with other ideas and other places and other things to do.

I just got sick of those obsessive personalities.

I don't miss them.

As for me...I'll be hiking in western North Carolina with friends today. To organize some of those recollections of those creeps of old. They appear from time to time as characters in my books and stories. Turns out that they're good for something, after all.

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