I’ve never been one of the cool kids.
Not in middle school where I capped off the eighth grade by throwing up in my underwear, not in high school where I completed my Chemistry exams by writing poems about sodium hydroxide.
I vaguely recall a period in middle school where I cared about scaling the mountain of Guess jeans and hair-sprayed bangs to become one of THEM. The chosen ones. The cool clique.
That got exhausting, and I pretty much stopped caring after that.
The reason I bring this up is that I’ve seen a lot of chatter online about “cliques” in the Twitterverse and the writing community – these published authors who think they’re too sexy for their shirts, and the pre-published authors who secretly want to beat them with a can of Aquanet.
And I’ve gotta say, I don’t get it.
Maybe I’m missing something, and there really are hoards of published authors roaming the halls stuffing the pre-published authors into lockers and snapping their bras.
But more likely, you’ve got a bunch of authors with book deals and deadlines and editors breathing down their necks. Authors who are trying desperately to be accessible to fans and failing. Not failing, exactly, but just not reaching everyone.
I have 15 months to go before my debut novel hits shelves, and I certainly can’t claim to have any fans yet. But I can say that I desperately want to strike up personal relationships with everyone who reads this blog, and it breaks my heart that the best I can do most days is the dialogue in the comments trail and a few random Twitter exchanges.
I’m trying, but I’m failing, and I’m sure I’ll fail harder somewhere down the line.
I do understand the tendency to be star struck by certain authors. I have a special dance-of-joy I perform on the days Jennifer Crusie responds to a comment I’ve made on her blog. (Note to self: consider altering dance-of-joy so neighbor doesn’t think you’re having a seizure).
But on the days Ms. Crusie doesn’t respond, I don’t curse her name and burn her books. And I especially don’t think less of myself as a writer because she didn’t send me a personal note asking if we can get together to have martinis and brush each other’s hair (Note to Jennifer Crusie: I would totally brush your hair).
Our value as writers is not determined by how quickly we get an agent or a book deal, how sizeable our first advance check, or how quickly we climb to the top of the bestseller list.
And though I think it’s crucial to be friendly and accessible to fans and fellow authors, the value of an author can’t be judged by how kindly she treats others or how others view her.
What matters is how you perceive yourself and your writing – apart from all the clutter about cliques and US vs. THEM and thatbitchdidntsmileatmeinthehall.
How you value yourself is the only part you can control.
Whether you’re cool or not is irrelevant. Being cool with yourself – or with your own lack of coolness – that’s the only thing that counts.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a strange urge to tease my hair and rock out to Poison.