Every once in awhile something happens that brings you back down to earth and reminds you that you’re human. I’ve been smacked down more times than I can remember, but usually for a good reason. As an author, it’s happened more frequently than I would’ve liked.
A friend read one of my romantic spy thrillers and was very enthusiastic with his praise. He pointed out a particular action passage, one that I had reworked over several months in order to get it right. He asked “How long did it take you to write that?” When I told him, he replied “And it only took me five minutes to read it.”
One of the customers at a festival asked me a lot of questions and seemed interested in my books. I thought this was nice until she said “So how come I’ve never heard of you?”
Hmm, maybe it’s because you aren’t as hip as you think you are? Strike two.
Strike three came at another public appearance while I was giving the elevator pitch about my latest offering, a private eye caper. The person listened, nodded in all the right places, then asked “Didn’t James Patterson use that plot?”
Thoughts of early retirement flashed through my head.
When my first book came out I did an appearance at a local indie store and the owner asked the weekly newspaper to cover the event. They sent this young man who clearly did not want to spend Saturday afternoon interviewing a no-name author. He asked the required questions with zero enthusiasm then inquired about my publishing history. When I answered that this was my first published effort he finally looked at me. “So you’ve never had anything published before and you don’t have a degree in English lit or creative writing?” he asked. When I told him that was correct, he came back with “Then what qualifies you to write a book?” I gave a sly smile and responded “What qualifies you to read one?”
Thankfully that sound bite did not wind up in the following week’s paper.
Another time, I was having a conversation with a young woman who had read some of my books and really liked them. She said that she had recently begun writing a story in the same genre. I asked “Do you write like me?” and she innocently replied “I used to.”
Why do I bother?
Like most mature adults, I’ve learned to roll with the punches and not take things personally. People are entitled to their opinions, but one time I struck back. A local newspaper writer took issue with my books being in digital format. She went so far as to say that e-books weren’t worthy of her time because “Anyone can publish those things.” I politely told her what an ass she was, followed with “Take your head out of the sand and check your calendar, lady!”
I try to be cool about these things and treat others as I expect to be treated, but sometimes the temptation is too great. A male author friend of mine decided to write outside the box and tackle a contemporary romance. His previous works had been in the sci-fi/fantasy adventure realm. When he released it he sent out a mass e-mail announcement, with the tag line “Yes, I did it!” I read his book then sent him an e-mail—“No, you didn’t!”
Be it ever so humble, there’s nothing so fragile as the human ego.
* * * *
Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.