dealing with a bitter writer who'd been writing
a lot longer than I had, who'd had a few things published,
but who had consistently failed to engage readers.
My first encounter with him was when he popped
into my fan-created topic on GEnie (this was in the
private bulletin-board days of the internet, before
the world-wide web gained any traction)---where he
took me to task for the use of the word "midden"
in my first novel.
He had not read the book, and said as much, but OTHER
people had read it, and told him about this particular
error, and he wanted to gloat about my ineptitude,
letting me know that a midden was a primitive garbage
dump, not some sort of lunch.
I calmly explained that while I was aware that the
English word midden meant a primitive garbage dump,
"midden" as used in FIRE IN THE MIST had been italicized,
indicating it was a foreign word, and that it derived
from one of that world's dead languages, and from the words
"medias daen" and that those words in the history
of my world had blended together and had come to
mean the midday meal.
I noted further that the meaning of the word was
easily obtained from context within the story.
He ended up looking like a jackass in front of everyone,
and exposed his own stupidity for criticizing a book
he hadn't read, and using hearsay to do it.
The linguistic drubbing he received also tickled
one of my editors, who couldn't stand the pompous prick.
But he wasn't done with me yet.
In the private SFWA topics on the same GEnie system,
he angrily referred to me as "wildly prolific, but not
yet good," and bemoaned the state of publishing when such
an inept writer as I was could have one book in print, a
second finished and heading into print, and a three-book
deal within the span of two (gasp!) years.
And again, I asked him if, since he was claiming my work
was bad, he had actually read my first book---then the
only thing I had in print.
Again, he stated that he had not, but noted that he
didn't need to read the book to know it was bad because:
1) Baen was publishing me,
2) I wrote too fast,
3) I'd quit my day job to write full time, and
3) My first novel was popular.
There were several appalling inferences here, but the
one that was destroying HIM was this: If I was popular
and experiencing success, I could not possibly be good.
I talk a lot about the subconscious mind, and how you
have to train it to understand what you value and what
you need so that it and you won't be working at
So take a second here, and see how this idiot was
training his subconscious mind:
1) Books written efficiently are bad.
2) Books people like to read are bad.
3) Writers who can afford to write full-time
are bad writers.
4) Books published by publishers I don't like
(for whatever reason) are bad.
THEREFORE, if I write efficiently, I will produce
THEREFORE, if people like my books, I will be a
THEREFORE, if I sell my work to a publisher who
has a track record of building writers and developing
them into career novelists, my work will automatically
THEREFORE, if I can make a living at what I want
to do, it will mean I'm a hack.
How has his career gone?
I did find him on Amazon (with a manual search of
the Amazon site) but locating his work is like
pulling teeth. It doesn't look like he has anything
I can't pretend this breaks my heart. He went out of
his way to make me the target of his malice for several
years. Seeing that he still has no writing career to
speak of is fine by me.
But YOU can learn from his screw-ups and not
repeat his mistakes.
You, too, have a subconscious mind that listens
to what you say, BELIEVES it, and files it away for
EVERY time you badmouth some writer for being
successful---BECAUSE he or she is successful---you
are telling your subconscious mind "I despise success."
EVERY time you snarl about what idiots readers are
for liking something popular, you instruct your
subconscious mind to avoid writing anything that
might be popular.
EVERY time you complain out loud or in writing
or in your thoughts about how much money another
writer makes, you are telling your subconscious mind
that making money for your writing---BEING PAID
FOR YOUR WORK---is a bad thing.
And your subconscious mind listens, and works to
save you from all that awful popularity, success,
This isn't just true for writing, by the way.
It's true for anything.
What you say you despise, your subconscious mind
will block you from.
What you say you love, your subconscious mind
will seek out.
If you'd actually like to be successful as a writer,
or as a human being, look at those people who are
doing well doing what you'd like to do, and make them
your role models.
Cheer their successes.
Embrace their triumphs as if they were your own.
Teach your Muse---your subconscious mind---to love
what you want, not to hate what you envy.
And always, write with joy...