A writer died the other day, far too young and with far too much promise to see her go. I never met her, but even if I had, I might not have said hello. I am, unfortunately, very shy. I would have hated to interrupt her, to impose on her, to even suggest that I might be a good friend. And that’s a terrible loss for me personally, on the heels of a tragic loss to writing.
It’s a little late to make New Year’s Resolutions with the year heading into autumn, but I think I must. A number of other very good writers are also heading into the unknown, and I don’t know them either. I know they’ve enriched my life because I read their writings, sometimes avidly, sometimes out of simple curiosity and then discover they have published gems I value.
I had a new agent a few years ago, one I parted ways with rather quickly because she did nothing for me, although she’s done a lot for other writers. In my musings, I realize I did little for her. I went to a major SF/F conference impulsively, at the last minute, and she was able to find time to introduce me to several editors I might not otherwise have met. I’m left coast, they’re right coast. I didn’t take advantage of my introductions. I didn’t tell them how much I admired the lines they worked on for their publishers, or how I heard they’d nursed some new writers into relative prominence, or even how I appreciated their hard work in a vastly changing publishing environment. I did; I just didn’t tell them. I left the conference without having made new friends or contributed my knowledge to the general pool. Without being the least bit memorable to anyone. And I do have something to contribute, I remind myself. I’d published more than 50 books by then. I ought to have experience as well as imagination. My fault in not having found a way to share.
Now I’m not suggesting you drool over people. Or fawn upon them to ingratiate yourself. Just never assume that you’ve nothing to offer or contribute. Don’t interrupt but don’t hang back unnecessarily. Almost every one in publishing works hard. Let them know you realize and appreciate that, if nothing else. It’s a lot easier today than it was even four or five years ago. There is twitter, tumblr, facebook to leave your notices upon. It might reach them, it might not. There are more direct ways. I’ve vowed to review where I can, when I can. To go back to attending what conferences I can afford by time, distance and cost. To blog.
And even though it might take the bracer of a stout strawberry margarita for me, to say hello!