I may have bought shoes…
It’s always interesting going to see the writers I know from online chatter, intense phone conversations and even in-person at conferences – in their home environments. There’s this entire world they belong to that has nothing to do with their writer selves.
A fascinating insight.
But it’s apropos of this month’s theme of writer crushes. One of the best perks of being a writer is getting writers you admire to be your friends. Then you not only get to have the benefit of receiving their books before anyone else does, you also get to hang with the source of those fascinating ideas. It doesn’t always work this way, but sometimes the voice you fall in love with is also a person you can come to love.
Of course, this can go the other direction, too. A book you love might turn out to be penned by someone you don’t like personally, for whatever reason. I think this feels like a deep betrayal, because we feel so intimately attached to the stories we read – how can we not love the person who created them out of their heads? It seems that the beauty and emotion of the story MUST be echoed in the person….
But this is not always true.
I have – I think we all have – horror stories of meeting some much-beloved author, either online or in real life, and finding that love turn into sour distaste and sometimes intense dislike. It makes me think of the saw, that there’s a thin line between love and hate. Extreme feelings are extreme. Sometimes I think that the more strongly we love then, if it goes bad, we hate to the opposite extent.
Sometimes I think we don’t hate the person so much as we dislike the sense of disappointment, that the shiny, fairy-dust glittered ideal has dimmed with the grime and dullness of regular daylight.
This has happened to me more than once. Way back when I was “only” a reader, with no aspirations to write fiction, to today – meeting other authors whose work I admire. The very worst is with friends I’ve loved, who somewhere along the way turned out not to love me back. Breaking up is hard to do, no matter what.
And then there are the icons. The authors from way, way back – who turn out to have done something reprehensible. Then we end up having these conversations: can you love the art and hate the artist? Can I appreciate a Woody Allen movie and set aside what happened with his wife, his daughter and step-daughter? What about Bill Cosby, Orson Scott Card, Marian Zimmer Bradley, and far too many others whose grimy thoughts and actions shadow their otherwise shining work?
I don’t know.
In the end…. I guess I want to believe that our work redeems us. That we may be miserable human beings, but if we manage to bring something good and beautiful and inspiring into the world, maybe that makes up for us being less than what we should be in person. Maybe if we can never manage to be who we could for the people in our lives, then maybe we can bring stories to the greater circle of humanity. Stories that inspire greater love and better things from others.
Despite it all, I remain an idealist.
How do you hate an author? Maybe with compassion and tolerance. With the hope that they can grow to be a better person. And with the faith that anyone who could produce a story that moving, is capable of becoming a person worthy of the love that work inspires.