THE DEEP CATACOMBS - A lot of readers enjoy The Neopian Times each week, each
for various reasons. Some come to be entertained, others, to be informed, and
still more to seek out works by their favourite authors. Occasionally, someone
reads The Neopian Times with the intent to become an author themselves. Some
authors go on to be published, and a rare few become those in the frequently
published category. Most of these frequently published authors are very nice
to other authors, and give advice and encouragement when asked. But some of
these authors can let Neopian fame go directly to their heads, and become colossal
monsters of epic egotism. This article was inspired by one of those frequently
published writers (I'll call him Mr.
Ego) and his behaviour towards a beginning writer, and towards people
who wrote him fan letters. Names are omitted in the hopes that said writer will
recognise himself here, and deflate said ego just a bit.
I was contacted by a maligned author who had just had his first short story
published. He was very proud of this short story, until he came across a chat
board where his work was being discussed in a derogatory manner. The person
who started this mean discussion picking apart the new work? Mr. Ego, of course!
Shidi: How did it make you feel to see your work picked apart where
everyone could see?
Writer: I felt like I would never want to write again. I was very distressed
to see my work being picked at like that. He even accused the author (me!) of
writing the story in an attempt to butter up the Neopets staff.
Shidi: Shocking! I take it this wasn't your intent at all?
Writer: No. The story itself was a result of a storytelling activity
my guild had, which gave several words that had to be included in the story.
The piece I wrote won the guild's activity, so I thought why not enter it into
the Times? Well, I guess this Mr. Ego would be why not. Who would have thought
an experienced author could be so petty?
Shidi: Just so you know, most authors who are frequently published
aren't like that at all. Don't let one bad apple ruin your opinion of all of
us. What did you do about the situation?
Writer: Well, I told the members of my guild, who comforted me a lot
and encouraged me to write another story despite Mr. Ego's trashing of my first
tale. I then Neomailed Mr. Ego and politely explained where my story had come
from, and asked that he retract his statements, or make an apology.
Shidi: Very sensible, and glad to see you'll continue writing. Did
he make the retraction or apology?
Writer: Of course not! All he did was tack a little update onto the
end of his post that said something to the effect of he was only laughing at
the story, and didn't mean any harm by it. That made me feel even worse, which
is why I contacted you, one of my favourite authors, to tell my story.
Shidi: I'm glad you did. Do you have any advice for writers out there
who may have encountered their own Mr. Ego?
Writer: Yes - don't let someone like that make you lose your confidence.
Just because they're mean and attack your work, don't let it stop you from creating.
Remember who your real friends are, and get encouragement and support from them.
Just ignore anyone who can't give constructive criticism. And to Mr. Ego and
others like him - you shouldn't think you're better than others just because
you've been published so much and have a following. There are plenty of as frequently
published authors out there who are kind to their friends and fans- Al_The_Chia,
Shidi, Scriptfox, and Tdyans just to name a few. No one really should have to
put up with being treated poorly by an author, no matter how often that author
has been published.
Some helpful hints for Mr. Ego, and others who are either in the frequently
published category or who are heading that way:
1. Always respect your fans. You will eventually begin to receive fan
mail as a result of your articles, stories, series, or comics. Remember, the
reader is a very important part of the story. If you treat fans of your work
poorly, they will not read your work in the future. Answer fan mail personally
whenever possible. Just a small note saying "I'm glad you liked my story" can
make all the difference. When I first wrote to compliment Al_The_Chia on one
of his stories, at the bottom of the Neomail I received back was "Your Pal,
Al". That put a big smile on my face, and made me feel happy that I had written
2. Negative feedback is still feedback. If someone writes that they
did not like your work, try to find out why - don't just insult the person,
or delete the mail. It could be that their 'I hated this so much!' is hiding
a valid critique that they don't know how to express. Send a mail with "I'm
sorry you feel that way, could you tell me what you didn't like about it?" and
you may be surprised at the results.
3. Never attack other writers, or prospective writers. This just makes
you look bad. You had to start somewhere, after all - even Mr. Ego had a time
when he was unpublished. Think about how you would want to be treated if you
were a beginning author. If someone asks you for advice, do your best to guide
them in a positive direction. You may not have time (I know I don't!) to read
over and edit pieces for budding authors - but you most certainly can tell them
that it's important to use the grammar and spelling check, and to be sure to
include their user name.
4. Don't let 'fame' go to your head. You will become popular among
the Neopian set - but this does not mean that you should use your position to
harm others, or behave in a stuck-up manner. Don't use your articles or stories,
now that you've got a large number of people reading them, to attack a particular
species or to talk about how wonderful you are. Try using your position to affect
Neopia in positive manners; write an article that is helpful to people, or include
a moral lesson in your story (Issue 50's "Specious
Specists" by Scriptfox is a wonderful example of this).
5. What goes up, must come down. Remember, no matter how famous
you feel at the moment, you will occasionally write a story that receives no
feedback whatsoever - or receives nothing but complaints. This happens from
time to time. Just move on. If, however, you continue to be a Mr. Ego, your
reputation will become so bad, people will avoid your stories like the plague,
regardless of their content.
I hope the content of this article was offensive to Mr. Ego, and that he will
learn something from it in spite of himself. I hope that it was inoffensive
to everyone else, and that many more budding writers will join the ranks of
the frequently published someday. And as our anonymous interviewee pointed out:
Never give up writing, even if you someday meet a Mr. Ego of your own who attacks
your piece. Believe in yourself, do the best writing you can, always seek to
improve upon your previous efforts, and you'll be frequently published before
you know it. As always, I welcome comments, questions, and feedback by Neomail
and thanks for reading.