A strange thing happens when the world at large discovers there is an author in their midst. Suddenly they all become experts on EVERYTHING.
Need a second opinion about that gun you used in chapter two? The dude in line at Chipotle totally knows handguns backward, forward, and blindfolded. (Which he learned from numerous hours sitting on his couch playing Call of Duty, no doubt)
Stuck on a medical problem? Your second cousin, thrice removed (who you’ve never met) took two weeks of medical classes before she switched majors to become a graphic designer and can answer all your questions on Facebook.
Deep in thought about a plot hiccup? The car service driver knows everything about writing. His daughter scribbles firefighter smut, which he proof reads before stealing it and passing it off to his firefighter buddies.
That last one? Actually happened.
Last weekend I was in Phoenix, AZ for Phoenix Comicon. Lovely time, all around. More than slightly intimidating to prop up my books and announce, “Hey, I’m an author. Don’t pay attention to the tables of fucking New York Times Best-Selling authors two rows down. Buy my books!” But I survived. Made a few new readers. Scribbled my name on their books. All in all, not a failure.
Then I got into the (rather fancypants) car to head to the airport.
Usually, when there’s a quiet moment–which I’d had none of during the convention–I steal time to ponder what’s next for whatever book is on my slate. The driver had other ideas, asking a few getting-to-know-you questions. I knew I’d stuck my foot in it when I automatically answered, “I’m an author.”
And he was off!
First, he criticized parents who take their children to comicons. Then he moved on to age-appropriate reading and how much should be censored for young eyes. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a lazy parent. If my kiddo (we’ll call him A) shows me a book, I glance at it and give my okay. It works for now because he’s picking titles from the school library or the hand-me-down YA books I left in his bookshelf. We’re not big on censoring violence unless it is sexual violence. A understands the line between fantasy and reality. He won’t be sacrificing one of the obnoxious neighborhood kids to Slenderman as his summertime activity. (I may be tempted to, but A is a pacifist.) I won’t tell him no to anything unless I know there’s sex, rape, or anything of the sort involved. We’re a household of readers, censorship doesn’t really fly here.
After I managed to negotiate the driver away from the other topics, he started in on how his daughter spends all her time writing, “These tales about firefighters doing, you know” –a vague hand wave– “When she’s done, I read them before giving them to the firefighters. It’s about them. They deserve it.”
To be honest, days later I still don’t know what the hell to say to that. Luckily by the time the silence on my part reached awkward levels, we were at the airport. Where I *insisted* on paying, lest he think I agreed with anything he’d said by taking the free ride offer.
Writers be careful. Yes, pimp yourself out, but make sure it isn’t to people who think your creative efforts belong to others.
Also? Hide your firefighter erotica from your father.