Contemplating Comebacks for When I am Phenomenally Famous

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Or at least read by more than three friends. After I’m published. You know. Baby steps. But looking to the future never hurts. In theory.

Some of the stuff I see when I cruise the web and peek at author websites, especially the newer authors, makes me realize that I’m not just an introvert.

I am…

…a social ninja.

*Trips over her own feet, chokes on a spoonful of frosting. After much gagging and hacking, Katty stands to continue her talk as though nothing happened.*

Okay, so physical grace isn’t a strong suit of mine. I don’t think I could even fit in one (maybe with a girdle?). But anyway…

Years back, I went to my one and only Writer’s Conference (This was B.C. – Before Children, and we all know or at least have heard of what happens to money when children are introduced into the equation.) and I was talking to AN AUTHOR. Someone PUBLISHED. She instigated it, probably because she noticed I was sitting all alone-like (it was a rough conference for me). She shared some of her own insecurities to make me feel better. Things like she’d just recently joined the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America group and had no idea how to interact with those people.

SFWA is kinda … ummm … shall I say … picky … about their membership. You must have published X number of books. You must have plans to publish X number more after those in a given amount of time or your membership gets revoked. At conferences, these folks kibbitz with other members in an SFWA member-only cocktail party. This author who was telling me her story said everyone in there made her feel stupid because she didn’t know who they were, nor were their titles ringing a bell. She had no common ground with them and these cocktail parties were stressful as all hell for her, because she had no idea how to maneuver in the world of “Why don’t you know me?” authors.

“Oh, that’s easy,” I tell her. “SFWA requires that you be working on another piece and have plans to publish in X amount of time. So all you have to do is get their name, and before they say anything else, immediately ask ‘So what are you working on now?’ People love to talk about themselves, and they automatically assume you know who they are, because you asked about current work.”

Total deflection. Classic introvert technique.

She exploded in laughter. I like to think she uses that strategy now. I have no idea if she does, but she thought it was a good one.

On the web, I notice newer authors talk about being on panels in which they are ripped to pieces by the audience.

I have no illusions about my work. It would be nice if it were hailed as AWESOME by EVERYONE, but let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen. Even after you croak. And nowadays, there are people who live to troll. People who go to conferences expressly to troll authors on the panel. I know that would hurt. I can imagine me losing it and crying and stuttering. Hell, I know I’d lose it.

Major insecurity.

I know not everyone will like my stuff, but getting torn apart? Publicly? Just so someone can validate their own existence? Not awesome.

So I started looking for authors complaining about that. “What would I experience?” I wonder. “Worst case scenario.”

Not many authors talk about that, but a few do. The most common commentary -aside from stalkers and various threats- is “You’re ruining the genre!”

Ouch.

I stared at the screen. Someone actually said that? In a room full of people at a con? And no one stopped him?

Double ouch.

Okay, yes, authors need some serious rhino-hide armor for their thin skins, but damn.

Hmmmm…. In preparation for my imminent greatness (stop laughing), I might want to think about some snappy comebacks. Breaking down in tears is NOT an option. Stuttering makes you look stupid. Gaping is just asking for trouble. “Don’t like it, then don’t read it,” has been done and doesn’t accomplish anything. Ignoring a person online is one thing, but ignoring them in a room full of people is a whole different game. Name calling doesn’t work. Logical conversation with such folk is a waste of time…

Ahhh… Another introvert technique comes to mind:

The subject flip.

This one is a little more complicated. It requires that you look at the argument offered and then turn it on its head. It requires calm. In my case, it requires pre-prep unless I know the person I’m arguing with.

Random troll at Con X: “You’re ruining the genre!”

Me: “Dude, do you know what you just did for my EGO? Do you have any IDEA how many people have to read your work in order to be influential in any genre? Whooo! Yeah, baby! I AM INFLUENTIAL! I MATTER! I CAN RESHAPE LITERARY REALITY! MWUAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHH!!!!”

Or something to that effect.

The problem here is, I have to be able to think about every nasty comment (maybe even invent a few) about my own work, in order to be prepared for the troll. Essentially, I have to be my own worst troll. Kinda like training in a gym for that once-in-a-lifetime parking lot fight that may or may not ever happen.

Oy.

And people wonder why I’m so down on my own work, sometimes.

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About kattywampusbooks

A SAHM with delusions of literacy.
This entry was posted in Parenting, Random, Writer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Contemplating Comebacks for When I am Phenomenally Famous

  1. As an introvert, I often deflect and get the other person to do all the talking too. I’m very good at listening, but not talking. I stumble over my words a lot because my mind goes so much quicker than my mouth! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Happy IWSG day! 🙂

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  2. If you’re genuinely concerned about how to handle hecklers, I would suggest talking with or following some comedians. They are the kings of dealing with difficult audiences. They’re also generally introverts as well – in fact most performers and artists in general are introverts. Extroverts get into sales and marketing.

    A panel is a performance like any other. On stage (and online, for that matter), you show a character, a persona. It doesn’t have to be you. It could be an amped up version of a certain aspect of your personality, or it could be a completely different image. It’s not you on that stage, it’s your character. It’s not you being heckled by your audience, it’s your character. When the show is over you go home and put that person away and crawl back into your introverted place. You have to be insanely confident (or full of yourself) to really put yourself in front of an audience. Very few people do it.

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    • I think my big problem is that it takes me a few days to come up with witty repartee, and I know that I’m likely to freeze up in any spotlight (on the other hand, if anyone need a backstage tech, I’m all over that).

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  3. I’ve never experienced this, but I ALWAYS feel like an outsider at writers’ conferences. And I’m published…in fact, I think that makes me MORE of an outsider. Aspiring writers have that common connection but when they hear you’re published, they treat you differently. You’re no longer a peer, and it sucks. At the same time, I don’t really know the published writers very well because they all have been attending these conferences together since they were newbies. I started in romance and switched to children’s writing, so my newbie connections are at a completely different conference! I think I’m going to try that technique of asking others what they’re working on. The only bad thing is, then you end up listening to someone drone on about her novel for hours.

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

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    • You could start randomly itching your arm in the same spot and then out of the blue say you’ve noticed this rashy thing developing on your arm and it seems to be getting bigger everyday and hey where are you going?

      My Mom’s favorite thing to do to doctors she’s mad at (she’s a surgical nurse) is to walk up to them, flip her middle finger out (the one on the left with the large callus), point to it and say “Does this look odd to you?” So far, none of the doctors have gotten it, while the rest of the nurses suddenly find things to do. Elsewhere. Behind locked doors. So no one can hear them laughing.

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  4. The things we have to endure.
    I now qualify for the SFWA, but haven’t joined yet. If a requirement is to tell them what we’re working on next, then I’m screwed.

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    • I don’t think you have to tell them what you’re working on next, but if you don’t publish again within a certain amount of time, they revoke your membership or maybe put you in the nil-space membership rolls for a bit before a full revocation.

      But it is odd how if you sit down and have the where-with-all to finish a story, have it edited, and then published (however it gets done), the trolls seem to come out of the woodwork.

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