Saturday, January 27, 2007

Reputation

I'm known as an opinionated person (Frankly I think all writers are. If we didn't have this intense need to express ourselves we wouldn't be writers.)

On a writer loop I frequent we've been discussing expressing yourself without sabotaging yourself. Online it's so easy now to connect with others in the publishing world. And what you say lives on with you forever. I think about this a lot. And I addressed it to some degree on the post where I talked about persona and whether or not I should kill off Zoe Winters.

I decided 'no' on that, btw. And the reason I did is because I'm not a runner. I don't run from people or situations. I sometimes get frustrated, I've occasionally made an ass of myself, but I don't run and hide. When you are part of a community, people get to know you. I've seen sides of people I once perceived as one thing, and now I see them as something totally different, something more human and worth knowing.

Before I started chatting online with other writers, in other online personas I had a reputation as being a bit on the bitchy side, but mostly snarky. I could make posts without thinking too much about it because people kiss and make up and that's that. Sometimes they don't, but in the grand scheme, it wasn't hurting me any. With writing, it's a whole different ballgame. From the very beginning as an unpublished baby in this industry I have to think about how I come across.

I've never been one for self censorship. I've always admired emotional honesty and wanted it to be something I display. However, you can't just let everything hang out all the time. There is a time and a place for everything.

What I once viewed as "sucking up" in other people, I'm now starting to view as "being professional." There is a public/professional you and a private you, and the more one can get a handle on that, the better.

If given a choice between "self expression" in online forums and "being published" I would pick number two. I would rather learn to curb my bitchy side in order not to burn bridges or turn off potential agents and editors. I'm not willing to do anything to stand in my own way.

It would be awful to not succeed based, not on the quality of my writing, but based on a reputation that I wasn't careful about. Very slowly I'm starting to try to get rid of old habits, and in the writing sphere follow an attitude of: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

On some level it's not fair, because I'm not a prima donna. I'm not hard to work with. I accept constructive criticism for my writing and make changes where changes are necessary. I'm career minded, but at the end of the day, if I spouted my mouth off to someone on some forum somewhere, it might not matter.

I think everybody has bad days though. No one is perceived as perfect all the time. We are not Stepford people, cardboard cutouts of humanity with no souls... I think it's a cummulative effect. I think it's a karmic effect. A matter of sending out the type of treatment you want to come back to you in return.

I wanted to live in a world in which my words made an impression, being online, now I do. It's up to me to decide WHAT impression.

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

It's a fine line to walk, Zoe. In this business its all about reputation. As was said on the loop you referred to (naming no names here), an editor will avoid a prima dona ... no matter how talented. They don't have the time nor, frankly, the energy to indulge such a person.

I work in a lawfirm and have learned early on how to restrain myself. Afterall, you cannot tell a client that he or she was an effing moron for getting into the situation they find themselves. Tact and self-restraint became second nature.

It's one of the reasons I think that I've grown a professional shell. If I feel that author so-and-so is a crappy writer, no way am I going to say so on a public loop. That's the kiss of death, because it will always (and I mean always) get back to that person.

Zoe Winters said...

Yep.

Edie said...

This seems to have been discussed a lot lately. I'm with Liz here. I don't have to give my opinon on everything, and I won't. I might say something in private emails, but not on loops or blogs.

Zoe Winters said...

hehe. There's a lot of things I'll share my opinion on, but I'm trying not to "get personal" with people. :)