The other night, a lady who goes to our church told me that she had read DTD Part 1 and loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it, and now was reading Part 2. And the whole time she was gushing, I was squirming like a nightcrawler in embarrassment. I couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “Thank you,” and “I’m glad you liked it.”
I can handle someone criticizing my writing: as I discussed some-elsewhere, I tutored under J.R. Salamanca, whose operating motto ought to have been, “Spare the rod, spoil the writer.” That man gave unrelentingly scathing–but fair and accurate–public critiques in his class. If you didn’t have a thick skin before you started, you certainly did afterwards.
But I’m not comfortable at all when I get public praise–obviously, that’s a self-esteem issue, but I’m not sure just what. On the occasions when I’ve had people tell me how much they like the book, I’ve had to stifle the urge to say drivel like, “Well, anyone can write a novel” (obviously not true) or “Oh, it was no big deal” (it took 9 years, was a lot of work, and came out to over 600 pages, so yeah, it was a big deal). If I haven’t had a drink or two, I don’t relish being the center of attention–hell, I don’t even like having birthday parties: usually, I only do it on years ending in zeroes or fives. Introvert much? You betcha.
My extroverted wife Joni tells me I need to be more engaging when people tell me they like my books, instead of looking uncomfortable and clamming up, and I’m going to work on it. But it’s not easy, and it’s not something I expected to have to deal with. Yeah, I know, some of you might be saying, “Oh, poor you, you have to listen to people tell you how much they like your writing…and then on your blog, you
brag about it pretend it’s a problem.”
No, really, it is a problem: I don’t want to come across as standoffish or aloof or stuck-up, and I apologize to anyone I may have offended or otherwise rubbed the wrong way. I am very happy when people like my stuff, and am VERY grateful when they tell me so. I just need to do a better job expressing that.