This interview with Cassie Clare and Maggie Steifvater is circulating on the Twitters today, and I found it thought-provoking. Writers do indeed have kind of a peculiar relationship with readers in this day and age, and when readership crosses over into fandom it can become even more fraught.
(I know Cassie Clare is a particularly polarizing figure – I remember this from my Goodreads days – but she’s also a human being trying to juggle the conflicting demands of fame and creativity, and as such she has my interest and my sympathy.)
There have always been reclusive writers; Salinger comes to mind, but he’s hardly the only one. I totally get that impulse. Fame can be anathema to creativity, for some of us. I want to say it’s an introversion thing, but who knows. I need more data to make that claim. There’s a special kind of scrutiny reserved for writers, however; we are expected to be wise and witty at all times. For me (and I don’t believe I’m alone in this), the idea that people are watching expectantly, waiting for me to be brilliant, is death to brilliance. My wit is, in my experience, a bit like Michigan J Frog:
That is to say: busting out all over when left to its own devices, limp and croaking when a funny dance is demanded of it. I am happy to perform – I quite enjoy an audience – but it has to be in my time and on my terms.
This doesn’t mean no one should scrutinize my work or attempt to engage me. More that I can explain my own rules for the “wedding math” Stiefvater mentions: I will smile back if I have the energy to spare, if you’ve caught me at the right time, but that isn’t always the case. If I don’t engage, it has everything to do with me being self-protective of that recalcitrant singing frog. It’s nothing personal. I love you all and deeply appreciate your enthusiasm. My first duty, however, is to my health and work.