I don’t often talk about what goes on over on SFFWorld.com because, well, you would go hang out there if you were interested, right? Right. But this morning I’m going to impart some advice to the newbie and not-so-newbie writer based on something that happened over there.
Chuck Wendig recently wrote a post extolling the virtues a writer should not exhibit. As always, his posts are funny, in your face, and spot on. You should go read it. Take special note of numbers 21 and 22. Then come back here, please.
If case you don’t want to read through all his points, here are the two I want to emphasis:
21. Bludgeoning Folks with Your Ego – Guy rides by on a super-noisy motorcycle or whips by in some psycho-fast sports car, I like to smile and wave and loudly compliment that dude on his very tiny penis. The louder and more ego-fed you are, the less you usually have to back it up. It’s like a butterfly trying to look like an owl. Fuck that. Be the owl. The owl doesn’t need to advertise because he’s a motherfucking owl, son. Cool the ego. Nobody wants to see it.
22. Acting Like a Bully – Taking the ego up a notch is when authors act like bullies. They have an opinion or a story or some measure of success and they use it to shove everybody around. It’s gross. You should be ashamed. ~ From Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds blog post
Though Mr. Wendig makes a good case of what not to do, he doesn’t tell you how a writer should behave.
I am in no position to tell you what to do, but I think Neil Gaimen is. Remember his speech? I posted it a couple of weeks ago here. It is a little long so I’ll summarize his main points here:
First and foremost
Make good art.
I wanted to put that in all caps but didn’t want you to think I’m yelling at you. This is really the important part. Everything else means little if you don’t do this. And by good art, Mr. Gaimen means art that is true to you, and that is your best work.
People keep working…because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you. ~ Neil Gaiman in his 2012 Keynote Address
I emphasized the part “easy to get along with” because, frankly, in today’s writing world, that goes a long way. There are thousands of writers and artists out there that are just as good as you are. There’s no reason for anyone to tolerate bad behavior.
(This is coming from me, not Wendig or Gaiman)
Remember that the people you interact with on the internet are your peers. People just like you. Treat them as you would any professional and you’ll be treated likewise. Otherwise, you might just find yourself pushed out of the very community you had hoped to be a part of.