Being a writer is cool and weird. I’m trying to explain this to the students I’m visiting in Vermont this week, and mostly I’ve been talking about:
- How cool/weird it is to make up entire worlds and characters in your head and other people read them.
- How cool/weird it is to have people fight over your books in line or cry when they meet you.
- How cool/weird it is to get emails from people you don’t know.
But sometimes the weird way outweighs the cool when it comes to random emails from people you don’t know.
And no, I’m not talking about the emails that:
- Tell you that you are beautiful
- Tell you that your nephew has been kidnapped and you must wire money right now.
- Tell you that you won a foreign lottery.
I’m talking about emails like this one:
You sound like a very curious, interesting, clever girl. I was hoping to find something that would give these kids a leg to stand on morally and spiritually.Random Mother in Maine Who Likes to Email Imperatives to Authors she Doesn’t Know
So far I’m not seeing anything with any direction except sucky things happening to young girls.
Hmmmmm OK I’ll withhold further comments until I read one of your books.
But fix it.
And that mother makes me so sad because she’s in charge of a kid right now and she doesn’t realize that sucky things do happen to girls (young and old) and people (young and old) all the time. Those things happen. And books are out there because books reflect life and expand on it and help you empathize about it and be a part of it.
“But fix it,” she said.
I went to that presentation in Maine. I drove three hours. I shook when I saw that parent in the back of the classroom, glaring. “She’s difficult,” the school told me. “Very very difficult. But we don’t think she’ll harm you.”
That was a tiny worry, but my bigger worry is her kid and was her kid.
“But fix it,” she said.
No, ma’am, you fix yourself. And hopefully once you do that, you and me and a whole bunch of other people can spread kindness in this world instead of perpetual suck. Deal?
It’s easy to succumb to the suck of other people. When authors get criticized they can lash out. Everyone can lash out. They don’t have a special course in Author School where they teach you to deal with criticism, stalkers, how to do a school visit, how to be kind. They just expect us to know. We don’t always know.
That makes me sad, obviously, because I want writers to be good role models. But some of us weren’t taught that either. Fixing it, fixing ourselves, making the choices that are right isn’t a constant thing. But I know I want to be better. I want everyone, even that angry mom who wrote that email and glared at me, to be better.
I think we can.
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IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!
My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.
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