Yesterday I read Kevyn’s post on Jack Vance, what would have been his 100th birthday, and how he kept fandom at arm’s length. Vance’s approach to fandom struck a nerve bringing to forward a topic I have been giving a lot of thought to lately. How the modern writer interacts with readers and colleagues.
The 21st century and the internet opened the world of the writer to the public. What was once a mysterious profession where fans interacted with authors through letters or the editorial section of magazines is now wide open to daily blog updates and minute by minute Twitter updates. While this can be fantastic for drumming up a fan base I’m starting to feel that the constant reality show style interaction is detrimental.
“The less a writer discusses his work – and himself – the better. The master chef slaughters no chickens in the dining room; the doctor writes prescriptions in Latin; the magician hides his hinges, mirrors and trapdoors with the utmost care.” Vance in the afterword to “The Bagful of Dreams” The Jack Vance Treasury (2007)
The constant classless over sharing of the personal and political shatters the mystique and magic of the writer. Watching grown men and women sling insults at each other over plastic rockets and popularity contests is pathetic. Reading screeds by men, who are often fathers of adult children, filled with self-deprecating snark that would embarrass a thirteen-year-old cheer leader disgusts me. Most of all advertising by attacking fellow writers is embarrassing and brings down our entire profession.
The era of wearing sweatpants and pajamas out in public is over and now it’s beyond time that the era of the forty-something writer snarking like a teenager on AOL goes into the dumpster of history. Put the cat pictures away, throw out that milkshake stained t-shirt, potbellied ironic man-children, and wannabee manic-pixies are out.
It’s time we embrace professionalism and respect, presenting ourselves with the proper tact and manner befitting our profession.