You may not know this, but authors come with warning labels, just like non-author people. In Real Life, we usually scope out the warning labels attached to our friends and colleagues through a series of interactions. After a while, you know that Jilly’s warning is Contents Under Pressure; Gabe’s is Runs with Scissors; and Lynn’s warning is Sees No Evil.
On the internet, it’s a little harder to figure out warning labels; and especially the warning labels for authors, because there’s this free-floating cloud of Assumption regarding How Authors Are that kind of fogs up perceptions.
That being the case, I’m going to make it easy for everyone and throw my warning label right out there where everybody can see it.
Here it is; Sharon Lee’s warning label:
Please commit this to memory; it’s not long; it’s not hard, and it can quite possibly save a life. Or, at least, hurt feelings.
Among other things, the above means that I don’t tend to respond. . .well. . .to people who insist that I must fit into their box, or Do It (whatever It may be) in Some Way That They Personally Prefer, rather than the Way I Personally Prefer. I especially don’t respond well to Rule-Giving regarding stuff that I happen to be doing mostly for myself.
Allow me to provide context.
Over the last. . .week? I’ve been on the receiving end of an email scolding me for wasting time writing blog posts, and hanging on social media, when I ought (Note: Please don’t use the word OUGHT to me when critiquing my life. Unless you’re my spouse, or a close personal friend who has earned the right, you have no business critiquing my life, and OUGHT is not yours to throw around like confetti. Thank you.) to be writing more Liaden books. The letter-writer then wanted me to answer a question, though they were decent enough to acknowledge the irony of that. And, no, I haven’t answered, because there was nothing civil I could think of to say.
Also, recently, I posted a snippet in a blog post. Someone in another part of the internet, having this brought to their attention, gave as the Rule that the snippet was too short, that real snippets followed the form used by Author X.
Now. . .here’s the thing. I share what I’m writing with y’all because I want to. In fact, let’s back up a couple steps. . .
I write because I want to.
I don’t write For You.
No, really, that’s the truth. I don’t write For You.
I write, first, and foremost, For Me. I write because writing (for the most part) gives me pleasure.
I do realize that we are extremely fortunate to have a publisher who backs our work. And I do realize that there are people Out There who buy our books and read our stories, and we’re all thereby embarked on a similar — but not an identical — journey. We know the same people, though not in the same way; we’ve been to the same places, though we noticed different things. We can talk about our shared experiences, and learn from, and entertain, each other. And all of that is Incredibly Cool.
But, the fact remains, that I write For Me. During our years Wandering the Literary Desert, I still wrote stories and novels, though it took me a while to dare again, after being cut loose from our first publisher. I’m guessing, based on my established behavior, that I’m going to continue to write, for me.
You, my fellow travelers, are certainly free to critique the story; to argue the route; and even to get off the train.
But you are not allowed to dictate Rules, and OUGHTs to me on any subject I can bring to mind.
Everybody clear on this?
Now! Fans of Dragon in Exile will be pleased to know that work continues apace. It’s all bridge-building and braiding and pointing up characterization, and thus not quantifiable by word counts. We will, therefore, have to go with the Authors’ Gut Feeling Index, which is that we’re doing some good stuff, here.
I am now going to post what I call “a snippet.” It is short. If short offends you, or if snippets in general offend you, please, please, for the love of ghod, I beg of you — don’t read it.
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Progress on Dragon in Exile: GOOD/Author Satisfied
At this hour, the shadows sheltered only one habitant — another shadow, slightly darker than themselves. It had for some while stood motionless, listening to the sounds of the sleeping nursery. Now, it moved, black against black, resolving briefly into a gray silhouette as he crossed lighted path, melting once more into the darkness beyond.