Last week I probably came across as a bitchy whiner with some choice words about the publishing business and MFA writers programs that I shot out. And let’s be honest, reading stuff like that and letting it pull you down that far is going to give you damned little to smile about.
So you have to imagine what a relief it was for me (and anybody reading this stuff) to see this account of Guillermo del Toro’s Q&A in Portland via io9 where he said a lot of things about the craft of writing and the act of creation that was a good tonic.
Now this is what we should be seeing more of from content creators. What there should be is a passion for the work shared in a way that sweeps you along with it, demonstrating as you discuss your craft why we should be paying attention to your work. There’s a lot of great lines he delivered (some of which could be considered NSFW) that would make great truisms to frame and hang above the desk. I was especially taken by the line, paraphrased here:
Success is f’n’ up on your own terms.
Well said, indeed.
And in order to keep the good mood going, there’s this personal story about what happened to me this evening:
I was asked to get a book from my convenient neighborhood Barnes & Noble for my son, as I was close by and drew the short straw. I went to the kid’s section to look for the title in the “Teens” section, muttering a little to myself as I hunted high and low for the tome.
I was interrupted by the sales woman who was stacking titles nearby, who offered with a smile, “If you tell me what you are looking for, maybe I can help you find it.”
“That’s very kind,” I said, “I hope I’m not taking you away from what you were doing.”
“Oh no problem at all, sir. Which title are you looking for?”
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.”
She smiled as she pointed to the tome, a mere cubit in front of my nose at eye level.
“That was too easy,” she said with a smile. “You don’t have a harder book for me to look for, do you?”
I smiled back and replied, “The Necromonicon.”
“I don’t think we have that in the kid’s section,” she retorted without breaking the rhythm on the exchange. “I’m afraid I can only recommend books for people under the age of consent.”
I’m sorry I didn’t get her name, because I would recommend asking for her should you need help with shopping for books for young readers. Sales, like writing, is also an underappreciated art form…
PS: I showed the above to James before hitting the “Publish” button, to show him what happened when I went to get him the book.
“Whatever,” he replied.