When in York the other day I popped into Games Workshop. I usually try to go to the local GW when I’m in a town. Sometimes, I buy stuff.
As always, the store dude approaches and asks if I’m looking for anything, what army I’m into, that sort of thing. Well done GW store training programme – your store managers never fail in this regard. Partly to short-circuit the whole process, and partly because I want some recognition, dammit, I say who I am, and point out some of my books. There’s a third, slightly mischievous desire here. I do it because I want to see how the store dude reacts. Nine times out of ten there is a flicker as their mind changes gear, and their faces become neutral. A slight disengagement enters the interaction. You can see them thinking. Is he really who he says he is? Is he a lunatic? Is this a test? Sometimes that’s it. They leave me alone. (As happened in this case). Either way, BL author or a lunatic, I don’t need their enthusiastic spiel. If the shop’s less busy, after I have established that I am not, in fact, a lunatic, then conversation is forthcoming. If I were more modest, I probably would not do this at all. It’s slightly egotistical, perhaps even a little bit mean. But I don’t get out much. And writing is lonely. And I crave validation.
Sometimes, after credentials have been established, they really don’t know how to act. This is the “magic author” effect, and it happens to me sometimes. This is where folks treat you like you’re somehow special, and they say things like “You’re really talented” or somesuch, and I think, “Er, am I? Are you sure? Have you got the right man?”
Provided I don’t become convinced that the magic is real, or rather, as long as I remember that the magic might be subjectively real for the reader, but that it does not actually make me in any way special, I should avoid becoming a total knob. I’ve seen it happen many times. It can happen to anyone with even a vaguely public profile. Sometimes people buy into the magic lens they are seen through and forget the shortcomings of the person living inside their skull. This especially tragic when the person is a writer with a humble following, and not, for example, Johnny Depp.
There is only one Johnny Depp.
So we must hold on to our secret feelings of fraudulence, we writers. And I must always keep in my mind that the only magical thing about me is that I am a goblin living in a man’s world.
Lunatic and BL author. That’s probably the right internal response for future contactees.