Friday, October 31, 2008

Readers are not family.

I wasn't trying to be mean to anybody in the last post, but it has to be said: as a writer, I have my own friends and family. I'm not writing to get more of them.

Writers and artists create to say what they think. If anybody relates to us, it will be between the ears.

A masseuse I formerly used ruined an entire, supposed-to-be relaxing session by bitching about her favorite musical artist. She'd written him an oozing fan letter, and he'd sent her back an (actually) signed photo and a form letter, thanking her very much for her interest, and telling her about upcoming gigs and releases.

She was furious. She'd expected a private communication, and she swore she'd never listen to him again.

The one who should have been furious was me -- I was paying for her to shut up and work my muscles so I could get back to work.

Instead, all I said was, "Look, he doesn't know you from Adam's off ox. He actually took the time to sign the photo and reply. And he let you in on how to share his life the only way you can expect. What are you so mad about? And get that spot behind my left shoulder."

I want to make it very clear -- without any hints or fibs -- that we don't want to be friends with our audiences, who have their own friends and families. We're not concerned with your personal life, and we don't want you to be concerned with ours.

However, if you MAKE us get involved in your personal life, we may start studying your features, writing down your meanest quotes, and twisting your name just a LITTLE bit....

Those announcements in books and films about the characters being based on no one are just legal lies. You may THINK you want that kind of fame, but if you write me something about the Desert Peach that includes the phrase "German faggot," you're not going to want to point it out to your Mom.

You may be mildly famous, but you won't want to admit it. It will be like the afterlife for a logger -- he gets a chain saw and gets plopped down in the middle of a clearcut.

For eternity.

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