You’d like to be a writer. You’ve joined forums to make new friends and learn new things. Every now and then you get together with other like-minded souls who also all want to be writers. You join a writing group. You write things, you get mostly positive fedback, and things look cosy.
Then people get used to your face and your name, and start trying to involve you in politics.
Here’s a fact, writerlings: Almost all published writers and working editors are absolutely fantastic, lovely people. I cannot stress this enough. They are human beings just like you or I, so may have the occasional off-day, but I guarantee you that every one I have ever met is genuinely warm, caring, and varies from cordial to downright friendly.
But here’s the peculiar thing: Surrounding writers are fans, and fans can have a very, very peculiar outlook on the world. And 90% of fans are also lovely, fantastic people who simply enjoy reading or watching productions of the writer’s work. And it’s the other 10% that you need to watch out for.
I’ve met many writers whom I’ve been pre-warned about, and in every single case the warning failed to live up to the writer. I was told one writer was a sex-crazed pervert who attempted to sleep his way through his entire fanbase. The man I met was a little shy, genuinely pleasant company, and devoted to his other half. I’ve also been warned that another writer was, I quote, “a complete and utter c*nt”. When I finally met him he was a lovely chap. Needless to say I’m still in touch with both, and neither of them have attempted to seduce me or stab my eyes out.
They’re just two examples. I could go on, but you get the idea. If anyone tries to “warn” you about an author, an editor, an agent, take it with a pinch of salt unless it’s backed up by hard fact (dodgy vanity “agents”, for example). Make up your own mind.
Why do they do it? I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it’s posessiveness. If they can warn you away from their writer, they get to feel more important, because only they are “close” to the target. They defend their position as head of the fan pack by putting others off wanting to even talk to the head honcho.
Writers don’t need sycophants. What most of them would like is to be able to meet people, go down the pub, have fun with friends, without having to constantly talk about that book they wrote or what they’re working on for next year.
So try not to get lured in by that charismatic yet bitter 10%. The world’s not really the way they tell you it is, no matter how persuasive they sound. And you could shoot your own career in the foot if you fall for their manipulation and snub someone who could help you in a couple of years’ time.
If you want to be a professional, act like a professional.