I’m Not That Guy

Do you know that point in your life, where you’ve been going along and suddenly find you’re not you at all?

No, I’m not talking about possession, mind swapping or even multiple personality disorder.  (It has another name, mind – one my son keeps insisting I use, but bah.  He’s asleep.  Besides, they’re all coming up with new fangled names for the same madness.)  I’ve written that type of thing excessively, mind, and in all genres which betrays perhaps a morbid fear or perhaps my subconscious screaming in your ears.

What I’m talking about, though, is something different.  One of the heartbreaking segments of Dandellion Wine is about the old lady who keeps everything from her childhood, so she can remember it, until the kids taunt her, and tell her she stole it from some little girl.  At one point she describes the experience as having got into a train, and then gets out on the other side and there are none of the people who knew her before, and she’s someone quite different, and she can’t prove she was the person who got on the train.

It’s something like that, only not.

To an extent we expect to get old, and few of us really get that much of a shock at it.  Well, perhaps me.  Because so much of my twenties was consumed with trying to have kids, and I finally had them late, and that brings with it its own variety of time warping, I find myself in my late forties going “waitaminute.  I was young just a minute ago.”

On the other hand, because – like Miss Marple – I grew up in a village where “sixty” was old, I’m aware of having both more vitality, more options and probably greater life expectancy than anyone I knew growing up had at fifty.  Or, for that matter, at forty.  And heck, I’m only eight short years from Shakespeare’s death age, and look what he accomplished.  Or flip it the other way, I’m twenty some years than Marlowe when we died, and though you can see the lack of maturity in some of his work, we sure know his name.  (No, I don’t want to hear about population densities and incidence of talent.  Shud up, you.)

Though I was pretty at one time, I never knew I was, so I haven’t put my “me” in my looks, so aging matters perhaps less to me than to most women.

At any rate, gradual decline is something that’s built into us.  We’re dying the minute we’re born and all that Jazz.  (A platitude as obvious as being naked under one’s clothes, but less chortle worthy.)

What I’m talking about is something different.  In one of those moments you sometimes have while reading books, I remember coming across Terry Pratchett’s reference to Vimes’ youth as “miles and miles of twerpitude” which you have to cross to become the person you’re supposed to be.

Unlike the faux revelation of us all being naked under our clothes, Pratchett’s line is a revolutionary insight in a society where we’re all obsessed with youth.  (I think this is a left over reflex from when they expected each generation to be larger: blend in, so they accept you.)  And frankly, I think the only reason I accepted it is that I first read it in my thirties.  (Maybe not.  Older son loved it.)

What I mean is, whatever your job is or your profession, particularly in writing for the last twenty years (and maybe longer) where establishing yourself to where more than a handful of people know you (unless the publisher pushed like mad and sometimes even then) would take most of your actual writing life, you start out as an apprentice, with idols and people who are like living gods to you.  And then you end, at the end of that train ride, if you’re prolific and hard working and somewhat lucky, as someone’s living god.

Does one ever adjust to that?

I’ll admit my bar for living idols is low.  When I was little, growing up in the village, far from the US, where the future – and therefore science fiction – comes from, all writers were gods in the Roman sense – mythical creatures, more than humans.

So for the longest time, I coped with being published by telling myself I wasn’t really a writer.  After my very first story got published and I had a panic attack over it, I started making excuses “I’m only published in short stories.  I’m not a real writer.  I’m only published in short stories.”  Getting over the novel was more difficult, but hey, it tanked, so…  I wasn’t a real writer.  Then the other novels, well, I was a midlister.  Hack, not real writer.

Conventions could throw me into a complete panic attack.  I was an impostor.  What if they found out I wasn’t a real writer?

I don’t know when that changed.  I realized talking to a friend the other day that it had, that I have accepted I am a writer and a semi-competent one.  Perhaps accepting it is essential to getting your voice right, since so much of the voice seems to hang on self-confidence.

My friend is just starting to publish, and she’s going through the panics I had “These people treat me as a real writer and I’m not.  I feel like such an impostor.”  She’s not, of course.  She is a beginning writer and – I have it on the opinion of another friend who read her (I haven’t got around to it, yet, being the world’s worst mentor) a damn fine one.

It’s just that her mental perception of herself hasn’t caught up with her yet.

I’m starting to suspect mine hasn’t either.  This is not a humble brag.  I’m not Heinlein, or Pratchett.      In skill I’m definitely not Dave Freer.  And in popularity, at some cons, I’m not even Kate Paulk.  (Several people at a local con were heartbroken she was not there to sign the stories we wrote together. Apparently a rumor had gone around. It left me feeling like chopped liver.)

But I’m starting to run into fans I not only don’t know but “fans in weird places” – like my plumber.  or my neighbor.  People who didn’t know I was “that Sarah Hoyt” and whose day is made when they find out.

I’m not anyone’s living idol (I hope.  Man, that would be weird.)  I don’t think anyone would wait in the rain for me to sign their book.  But for some people I’m “more than usually good writer” and someone to look up to.  And that’s weird.

I wonder – not that I’m ever likely to know – should I ever scale the heights others have, should luck smile on me, should skill align, should I write a few books that deserve to be classics in the field, if I’ll find myself at eighty like the engineer character on Galaxy Quest, mumbling distractedly at an adoring fan “I’m not that guy.”  (Well, in my case, girl.)

It’s already weird to find that when I critique someone, or hug an online friend at a con, this is accorded way more importance because I’m a semi-known author.

I imagine being on the other side – being “famous so and so we invited to draw guests” – would be even more so.  Weird, isolating and startling.  Like finding yourself in someone else’s skin.

We used to have protocols to deal with all this stuff.  Now we don’t.  What is it like?  What does it feel like?  My mom says I never knew how to act like I was important.  Which I think just makes me American.  But it might be disconcerting to people, should I ever find myself famous/admired.  Again, that’s not likely to happen, but I’m sure it’s happened to people with my makeup before.  (Well, a lipstick has gone missing.)

I remember that people like Heinlein, Asimov, Pournelle, were once people like me.  Starting out.  Diffident.  (Well, maybe not Asimov.)  Heinlein’s bio captures Bradbury as a raw beginner.  What was it like, then, when at the end of his life – ten? Years ago – he had a line for his signing going back eight LA blocks.  (I gave up and went home.  At any rate we have two signed Bradbury’s, which we traded for some furniture.)

I suspect there are equivalents in other professions.

To my friend, as well as to everyone else, who finds him/herself thrust into a public (however small the circle) position where they’re supposed to be the admired/in charge/knowledgeable ones, I give this advice: Keep public and private strictly separate.  Even if you have a blog, show only what you want to show.  Remember a blog is your public face.  You can joke about your kids or mention them, but don’t violate their privacy with anything you wouldn’t tell at a party.  Ditto your other relatives.  And then be very careful who you let into the inner circle.  You’ll make mistakes at first.  We all do.  Hopefully no fatal ones.

Establish that habit when you’re just breaking in, even if the precautions seem exaggerated and the whole thing blown out of proportion.  That will stand you in good stead when “well knowningness” creeps up on you.  I have this theory you won’t know you’ve hit actual fame until you have done it some time ago.  You don’t see yourself from the outside.

As for the feeling of being an impostor – chances are you’re not.  Yes, some poseurs make it into the various fields, but look, that’s more work than breaking in normally.  You’re not an impostor.  You’re not THAT good.  You’d know if you were.

You are that guy/gal.  Accept it graciously and study your betters to know how to act when you are in their position.

Keep your protest to yourself, and BE that guy.

118 responses to “I’m Not That Guy

  1. Lord. I can’t get past your first sentence with out the mind queuing:

    Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: “Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on as just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” And she began thinking over all the children she knew, that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them.

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

    Just as long as I am not Mabel. Now I am clear to read.

  2. Wow. Is this post timely for me or what? As I go to be one of many guests at the Shore Leave convention in Baltimore this weekend, I was feeling this very same thing. Thanks.

  3. So then fame is one of those things only recognized in retrospect. The feelings of being an imposter are thus useless, because you only know whether they’re real or not after a lot of time has gone by. I think it is unhealthy to always raise the bar you use to call yourself a writer or not. Did you compose a laundry list? Good, you’re a writer. Now you can quit thinking about that and get to writing something interesting.

    Which is more important: that Shakespeare & Marlowe wrote stuff, or what they thought about themselves? The artist is better when s/he makes himself invisible to the reader. I am better off because Heinlein invented the waterbed than because he had a reputation. And I’m a hell of a lot better off because Heinlein wrote than because he invented the waterbed.

    • Of course you’re right. But the thing is, a lot of us — natural introverts — don’t even like fame.

      • You can lie to yourself, but if you didn’t like fame, you wouldn’t talk about it.

        What natural introverts dislike is the limelight. And this is consistent: if you’ve made yourself invisible in your prose, it is only natural to regard limelight as unnatural.

        I’m advocating radical humility. Partly due to my Christianity, and partly because humility is Zen: You are the conduit through which the story flows.

        And I’m disparaging humility, too. One cannot build a writers’ platform if you are invisible. You have to jump up and shout, “I built this,” to sell books.

        I’m finding it really hard to both write and promote my writing simultaneously.

        • It’s not that I LIKE fame, it’s that second part of what you said “one can’t build a platform” — I don’t LIKE it. I came to terms with it years ago, though. I LIKE selling books, and that attaches a certain degree of fame. Perhaps not, though, with indie…

          • Wouldst milady prefer notoriety? That can be arranged. Infamy requires a bit greater effort, but is also an option.

            • Oooo, I’m sure we can help with infamy…as long as its anonymous.

              • Kate Paulk made me a reformed succubus in her books. I don’t think you can get much worse. And she’s my FRIEND.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  I think far worse than being made into an extreme character of Light or Dark (or something – brain fuzzy from work again today) would be being written into a story as a recognizable, yet pale and unflattering reflection of yourself.

                  • I was going to use “Paraka” as the name for a race of antagonistic aliens. Unfortunately, it’s basically the same as the Banglideshi word for…you guessed it…aliens. I’m thinking I’d heard it or read it somewhere in the past and that idea just kinda bubbled up through the grey matter.

                    • Use it anyway… it gives the aliens a little gravitas ;-)

                    • “Gravitas” is probably Bangladeshi for “the runs”. That was back when it was just a short story. Since it’s grown into a novel-length, I’ve completely changed why things are happening. No need for an antagonistic alien race now…that my characters know of, anyway…

            • I think I’m already notorious in erm… conventional publishing circles. I’m the woman who says the unspeakable — see War on Women or He Beats Me But He’s My Publisher.

              Sometime ago I realized that I didn’t want them to love me. I’d settle for their fearing me.

              • Oh yea – fear is a motivator ;-)

              • Well, there’s your problem. It does not matter that they love you or fear you, only that they read you (and pay handsomely for that privilege.) As the adage goes: there is neither good publicity nor bad publicity, what matters is they spell your name correctly.

                • Publishers and other authors? NO, no. I want the PUBLIC to read me. (Well many authors are readers too, but those don’t tend to loathe me.)

                  • Besides, ’tis always better to be lathered than loathed, no?

                    • I like the Spanish word for washing – lavar… In Panama they would lavar their hands… can’t remember the expression… it was the mid-90s I was there.

                    • D’oh! I have Lavar on a list of possible character names. They’re not really attached to anyone or anything, just nice-sounding, slightly odd words for aliens and such. I’ll either scratch that one off…or maybe save it for a very, very dirty or a very, very clean character.

                      I needed a huge number of alien names for the last part of this series. As I was commenting frequently on a political blog at the time, and that blog required word verification for each entry (tedious) I started copy/pasting the really unique, name-y sounding ones in a table that I’ll use when I get to that arc. I’m hoping it will be a nice anecdote at a con someday.

                      “Did you know all of the Banoshi are named by random word verification?”

                    • It would be an ironic twist to name a dirty character Lavar ;-) Plus nice idea… I try to make names mean something about a flaw in the character. It is my unsuspecting punning on the public.

                    • I always run a prominent character name through google, bing, and yahoo, just to be sure.

              • Sometime ago I realized that I didn’t want them to love me. I’d settle for their fearing me.

                And thus she set her foot upon the infamous path…

              • I used to have, as one of my signature elements on email, the quote “It’s great to be respected and loved, but it’s better to be feared than to be treated with contempt.” I see nothing wrong with creating and maintaining a very HIGH level of fear.

                • One thing a mother learns early on is to get in a bluff that scares kids into behaving. Some use Dad as the ultimate threat, but I think that is unfair. Same thing for using the big boss as a threat. After a bit, they know the real bite doesn’t go that far up the food chain, so best teach them to fear you personally before they hit the age of two. That way when they have a boss, they will understand authority and that they are generally at the bottom of the food chain.

                  • Nah. I’m the terrifying parent. Dad is the court of appeal.

                    • ppaulshoward

                      The rule in our family was “you only ask one parent and if the answer is no, that’s it”. Well, Ruth and I would most likely ask Dad about doing something or getting something. Dad’s first question was “Have you asked your Mother?” and of course the answer better be no. Very often his answer was “Let me talk with your Mother about that”. Now, he often knew that we asked him first *because* we thought Mom would say no but that was ok. Now, while we didn’t really know that Mom would have no, asking Dad first appeared to have worked often enough that we did so. [Smile]

                    • well. My kids know when they got the “automatic answer.” I learned early while writing and not attending, “no” was safer than “yes” though I had to listen for the weird grammatical constructions, “So you will not forbid us from building high test explosives in the basement, right?” Anyway, when they got the automatic no because mom is working and wants them out of the office, they can appeal to dad. Also sometimes when they think mom is being cruel and unusual.

                    • We called the rule: Don’t shop for answers. We learned that there were times where we also had to add: Why you asking me? (If the request involved the other’s work space, time, expertise, etc. or required both of us to accomplished.)

                    • ppaul – we had that rule in our family too except both parents said no until my sisters found out that we had a 50 percent chance of a yes if I asked. My sisters would bomb me with requests. I finally started saying no unless I wanted to do it too.

                  • …I just didn’t bluff. (Which meant I couldn’t threaten anything that I wouldn’t follow through on, of course, but if I said it, well… I meant it.)

  4. In some fields Fame is a necessary component of success. It is very possible to be a successful actor without becoming famous, although a certain amount of well-known-ness is likely to accrue. I suppose you can be a successful author without becoming famous, but that is probably a narrow niche. If you are selling under your own name, it certainly helps to be famous.

    OTOH, in most fields if you are even moderately successful over the long haul, you become a somebody.

    On the aspect of joining a pantheon, watch Mythbusters’ Adam Savage describe his working at Industrial Light & Magic on Craig Ferguson last night, starting at about 8:00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcN0korjMuA

    • What’s funny is that fame as a writer is …. compartimentalized. One of my local writing friends is Kevin J. Anderson. It’s enlightening to go from a con, where everyone is tripping over their feet to get NEAR Kevin, and go to dinner at a restaurant nearby, where even the “avowed sf reader” waiter glances at Kevin’s credit card without recognizing the name. (Partly because sf/f is a broad church, and he was not one of this young man’s “authors” partly because you always think “it can’t be that one. Not here, at one of my tables.” Hence my neighbor thinking “not that Sarah A. Hoyt.”)

  5. I had some brief accidental fame, when a music songbook of mine caught the attention of Garrison Keillor twenty years ago and there I was in St. Paul MN for a show segment. I had spun a music show for local public radio in a very minor way locally, and my very distinctive voice would sometimes earn me a “hey, I know who you are” in the grocery checkout line at home, but I was completely startled after the Garrison Keillor taping (which has a live audience) to be suddenly “recognized” in an elevator in my hotel by what I guess I would have to call “a fan.” That doesn’t happen on radio.

    It was so surprising, all I could do was laugh. It had never even crossed my mind that it was possible. Especially after watching the real radio professionals make the show, where I was little better than a prop with a voice.

    • Having listened to many an audiobook read by its author, I have been struck that I am in (slight) danger of eventually meeting the author and presuming an undue familiarity based on the many long hours of conversation, in which his vocal mannerisms have become distinctly familiar.

      OTOH, all Barflys have likely had the experience of going to a con and meeting folks with whom you’ve had many a conversation both light and serious, in the Suite by and by.

      • I’m an old techie, and in a prior life I was a regular attendee at Lotusphere, an annual convention of about 10000 in Orlando. One year I had a sudden impulse to cut my very long hair right off (it was time for A CHANGE), in the airport barbershop upon arrival, and spent the entire convention unrecognized by regulars I knew well, until (each time) I opened my mouth and out came “the voice.”

        • One afternoon after school The Daughter agreed to have her hair cut so she could learn to take care of it herself. So off went over two feet of hair, leaving it shoulder length. That evening was a school function. Someone came up to me and declared, ‘We didn’t know she had a sister.’

      • I suspect that all this relates also to the strange assumption people make that the author must hold the same opinions as some of their characters. Maybe the reader has found the character so real. Then, not being a writer, they cannot wrap their mind around the fact that anyone could create someone with that level of veritas.

        • Yehgads. Do you know how many people come up to me and go “I know you’re a terrible person because your character” — I don’t even have that much control over who my character IS, much less what they say. Yes, other writers do. In that case, yeah, I’m not one of those gals.

          The other — sometimes from authors that DO write that way — thing that drives me up the wall is “which of your friends did you base so and so on?” I like to tell people I based Athena on me, mostly because it makes them shut up and go away. While she shares some lethal propensities with my young self, I am not THAT gal.

          • I’ve been told that I write exceptionally believable male characters, as well as female, because evidently the perception is that women write women better than they do men, and vice versa. I’m not sure what it says about ME, if it says ANYTHING about me. I’m married, I know how men behave, I’ve learned a bit of how they think through my husband and several trusting male friends; why shouldn’t I know how to write a good male character? I dunno. I took it for the compliment it was and went on, puzzling.

            And thank you, Sarah.

            • As I’m finishing up the research for this first novel and laying out the scenes and such, one of the things that’s haunting me a little bit are the characters. I’m taking pains to make sure they are living and breathing, not just 2D chess pieces I’m moving around from set piece action to set piece action. The most daunting task I have ahead of me, I’m convinced, is making sure that the two main female characters are “fleshed out”. One is a mother and wife of a career soldier, who’s marriage has been on a slide for a few years and the other is a career politician. So the stay-home vs 1/2 of a DINK. Hopefully they’ll tell me how to write them because I’m not sure I have a clue :)

          • This a very interesting thread on how each of you write, create a character, and so forth. I have never attended any kind of “con” on a regular basis, so I really don’t have the experience that all of you seem to have. I find it hilarious that fans would expect you to be like your characters, even though I know it irks the lot of you. Sometimes I wonder if people get so wrapped up in a character or a series (Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter come to mind) that it becomes more real to them than the real world. I know that my friends who to Faire and Dickens Faire in San Francisco are terribly picky about every detail of their alternate personae. It would make an interesting study.
            @Cyn, I don’t think anyone reads my blog, or if they do, I simply bore them into leaving ASAP.

  6. You know– I am not that woman. You wouldn’t recognize me (except that I am blonde and blue-eyed). I am aging faster than I would have because of the meds I must take. I have a couple of fans, but I don’t know if anyone really likes my writings. The last positive feedback I got was from an English professor in Germany. (I do get a –I like it from my reader – that usually gives me a warm feeling).

    I do get that feeling sometimes though. I am a different person than the one I was at thirty or twenty. I am more self-confident and less diffident. I don’t feel like I am the child trying to listen to the melody that other adults hear. I can now hear it faintly through my inner life.

    I loved Alice as a child, then as a teenager, then young adult because I felt I was down this rabbit hole and I was by myself. Now with the internet I now know that there are others in other rabbit holes.

    So you are not alone. You may be that gal, but you are not an imposter.

    • I’ve changed numerous times in my life, and I think that just reflects the journey each of us is on. I’m in the middle of a transformation that I can feel, so it’ll be interesting for me who comes out the other side.

      • Just make sure you leave enough notes to that upcoming person to remind that guy what your PIN number is.

        • THIS is why we call you a bad man. (Well, I do. I don’t know about the rest of them!)

        • Oh, that is just silly! Leave notes for your passwords. Good lord man, where are your priorities?

        • Now I have a funny story about this -… The biggest change for me was when I became ill and had to take chemo. The chemo wiped out all my memory of passwords and PIN numbers. Plus cytoxan did such a number on my head that I couldn’t remember how to reset passwords. And then I would promptly forget them. It was horrible.

          So now I keep my passwords in a notebook. come on over… I don’t have much. lol

          Anyway– Scott is not too far-fetched.

          • After almost losing a full decade (from 41 to almost 50) I could use some bloomin’… maybe some bloomin’ onions ummmm

          • Maybe they only told you it was chemo. Maybe what they really did was erase your physical mind, plugged you into the Matrix power plant and…hang on, there’s someone at the do

          • I have a terrible problem remembering passwords. There are days (few yet, thank God!) where I have trouble remembering my name. I use a handful of passwords for everything. Since there are only four or five of them, I can usually find the right one before I get locked out.

            I’m sure Cyn can relate – I frequently forget what time I’ve taken medication. I have some I can take every four hours, and some I can take every six hours, and some I can take with the four-hour meds halfway between doses. Then I forget the last time I took them, and I have to ponder: Can I take them again, or will I OD? Sometimes I have to decide it’s better to hurt for another couple of hours, but then no writing gets done. Usually, in those circumstances, NOTHING gets done but watching Timmy. OCCASIONALLY I’m able to do housework, but not often. Drives me crazy!

            • Wayne Blackburn

              You two have illness and/or chemical influences to blame. I have nothing like that, only my personal history of forgetfulness at every turn.

              I use variants of just a couple of passwords, with different numerical accompaniments. I’m sure I’m not the most secure person on the Internet, though the base words are rather difficult to determine.

            • When The Spouse started to manage the med-dispenser wheels for two elderly parents, and then had to add a number of those seven day boxes (this medication is only taken if the blood pressure reading indicates, and that one just before dinner, and …) we realized: No wonder it is so common that people fail take their medications correctly — it takes a spread sheet to keep track of it all.

              • AMEN on that! As a person who survived three open heart surgeries between May and September of last year, I know all about the confusion with meds! Just sorting out the equipment needed to treat the VRE infection was confusing. Even now, taking upwards of 7 medications, plus suppliments a day,it gets crazy if I am not very regimented in how I do things.

            • Oh yea – which is why I have the seven day pill dispenser. But I have two meds that I cannot take together so I have to use a timer. UGH

      • I never thought about it this way until just now, but looking back on my past, I can mark three or four points where I went through massive change in a pretty short time, and came out the other side a fairly different person than I was before. At this rate, pretty soon I’m going to have to find a ridiculously long multi-colored scarf to wear…

  7. Funny, I am quiet glad not to be the foolish ditz I once was. Of course, should I live so long, I hope to be able to say that I am no longer the ditz I am now.

    • There’s something Agatha Christie says about a second blooming around fifty, where a new life opens up before you. May I say when I found that quote I was bowled over because it put in words what I’ve been feeling around the edges of, dimly. Like I’m on the threshold of something as deeply changing as adolescence was and — the unexpected part — as liberating, exciting and beautiful. It’s not something I expected, truly.

      • I’m finding the same thing. I’m fond of an Evil Editor quote: “the first thirty years of your life, you’re an idiot. The next ten years, you at least know you’re an idiot.” And forty is when I began to think that I knew what I was doing, or could learn quickly if I didn’t. Fifty – yes, I’m getting a confidence I never had before. (Granted, fifty isn’t what it used to be, and I don’t look fifty, but no one else looks fifty, either, that I can see.)

  8. Conventions could throw me into a complete panic attack. I was an impostor. What if they found out I wasn’t a real writer?

    I felt exactly the same way when I started in radio. Further, given the jobs I’ve had from the military through radio, the first “office” job I had was at 36. The first time I was in a boardroom-style meeting, I couldn’t pay attention. I kept thinking, “I’m in a real business meeting. Like a grown-up. Wow.”

    • I think this also means you’re a competent, reasonably confident human being, if that makes sense.

      To take the inverse: the people I’ve met who are big on “I’m special, I’m a writer!” are always the small ones, the ones who aren’t making it, who are doing the modern equivalent of starving in garrets, and are blaming the world for the results of their own choices, and clutch at “I’m a writer, I’m better than you” as a way of bolstering their damaged psyches. (Now, I have met some starving-in-garret people who aren’t like that, but they’re more mentally healthy.)

      • Thanks. My inner dialog kept making me feel childish about the whole thing. Then my boss got fired and I inherited all of her responsibilities. After that I didn’t have time to breath let alone inner-dialogs. Business meetings when from things of a sort of wonder to complete and utter nuisances, which is what they are to most people forced into their confines.

        • Staff meetings. Most of the matters brought up are totally trivial. The few that aren’t usually can best be worked out between two or three people in ten minutes working together. Then there’s always the jerk that HAS to say something at every meeting, whether he/she has anything to say or not.

          • Anything decided by a committee of more than three is doomed to failure. When I was a boss, staff meetings never took more than 20 minutes, only had three topics at a time, and if it couldn’t be covered in that time, the pertinent people met separately to sort it out. I hate wasted time, and meetings are generally always that.

            • “a committee is a life form with three or more stomachs and not brain” Robert A. Heinlein.

              In revolutionary Portugal, when a “directive committee” took over my high school, stupid little me, (Well there were reasons. They were at war with the gifted forms) pinned the quote to their door, and was SHOCKED they figured out who it was in seconds. Bless my mother who swore to them I’d never read Robert A. Heinlein, didn’t own any of his books, and they MUST be out of their senses… She did it with such a terrifyingly straight face that they couldn’t point out it was a blatant lie and everyone knew.

              • I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a congress. And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these Colonies with their illegal taxes — Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts — and when we dared stand up like men they stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our blood — and still this Congress won’t grant any of my proposals on Independence even so much as the courtesy of open debate! God God, what in hell are they waiting for?’

                John Adams — based on his own words, from the opening of Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards’ 1776 It seems that the more things change the more they stay the same.

                • 1776 is my all-time favorite movie, even above “Ludwig II, the Mad King of Bavaria” – which 99 people out of 100 have never heard of.

                  • Didn’t see the movie “Ludwig II”, but have seen his castle and learned his history. ;-) He was a wild spender.

                    • Cyn, I’ve been to all three: Linderhof, Neuschwanstein, and Herrenchiemsee. Yeah, he did kind of spend Bavaria into bankruptcy, but such beautiful palaces! Our guide to Neuschwanstein said that if the Bavarians had known how much of a money-maker his castles would be in the present, they may have allowed him to finish them, and also build Falkenstein. I like the way the movie ended: with the details that Ludwig, who was well over six feet tall, had “drowned in less than 18 inches of water”, with no mention of the bullet hole in his left temple.

                    • Oh yea – they are beautiful. And yes, drowning with a bullet hole in your head is ironic. ;-) But history is written by the winners. Plus I think that w/o the occupation, we might have never learned about those castles. (my personal opinion only).

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Heh. If I were in that situation (not likely to happen in the near future), I would probably assume they all knew I was an imposter, put on my Tech Support hat (where you have to sound friendly even when the person is being mind-crushingly stupid – at least on the Helpdesk where I used to work), and pretend.

      Then again, I’ve never been terribly impressed by anyone I haven’t spoken to in person, so I guess I’m odd.

  9. Completely off-topic, but why were you writing prequel Nell/Seraphim books under a pseudonym in my dreams? I wish I remembered more of it, except that thinking you were going to be revising rather a lot of Witchfinder to fit with the book I had in my hands. ;)

    • That’s not LIKELY — but there are now three sequels outlined.

      • …I’m not finding anything wrong with the idea of sequels!

        • Well, the mess at the end of this leaves Fairyland upside down.

          • Fairyland deserves it.

            Can the Fair Folk change shapes? How about genders, like Loki? Just asking…

            • That I know no gender changers in this case — unlike, say, in my first three books. Shapes — some ;) You’ll see.

            • And Loki can change genders???? Sorry, but I THOUGHT I knew Norse myth?

              • See? Feature creep. It’ll never get published.

              • ppaulshoward

                One of the myths about Loki was that he turned into a mare to lure away a Giant’s stallon. Apparently the stallion caught up and Loki was the “mother” of Odin’s horse. [Wink]

              • I’m pretty sure he did change genders, though I can’t say for sure that it’s how he got pregnant with the horse of many lovely legs. I do know he acted as “ewe” to one of the other gods (Thor? …having trouble getting Google to turn up the reference, though I do find out the Viking word for being the “passive” partner in gay sex or crossdressing is “ergi” and Loki was the god of that). [Yeah, can't find anything else but Marvel stuff right now. And I know for certain that in the Marvel universe, Loki changes from male to female.]

              • Loki was the mother to Sleipner, Odin’s… eight? six? legged horse, yeah.

                Although I suppose there’s a chance that, if Loki was no one’s father, Loki was a trans god (instead of a goddess) all along. Or a hermaphrodite. It would fit with a trickster…

                • Ah. Wikipedia says Loki fathered the Fenris Wolf. So either herm or gender-bender. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleipnir )

                  • no. You guys made me go and research. (GARGH) For obvious reasons I’ve always been more familiar with the Roman pantheon. Anyway, he’s apparently a bonna fide shape/gender shifter, like Quicksilver in my Shakespeare novels. Now I’m disquieted as it never occurred to me that Quicksilver was fertile in EITHER form.

                    • So now you know ;-) Loki was slippery that way lol AND I can see a story coming with Quicksliver being a father and a mother????

                    • Pantheons are Fun!

                      You can make sterile shapeshifters if you want, though. It does reduce the questions one has to think about…

                    • Is it shapeshifting because of magic, shapeshifting because of being a hybrid/ chimera, or shapeshifting because of evolutionary development? Because the hybrid/chimera most likely would be sterile. The others might be sterile only in a certain form, say the cold-environment-phase body, then become fertile during their warm-environment phase, and then lose their fertility during the cold phase again as a way to conserve energy needed for body heat production. Magic goes its own way as the author likes it.

                • I can’t listen to discussions of divine pantheons anymore without instantly thinking about Dan Simmons’ Ilium and Olympos. I cannot tell you how many times I have read those books, re-read, and re-read again. Truly the work of a master at the height of his powers.

      • O joy, I look forward to reading them.

  10. As best I can tell, the only differences between me now and me twenty something years ago are 1) stronger brake on the mouth and the typing hand; 2) much better physical shape, bum leg aside; 3) can’t stay up until dawn solving the world’s problems anymore – body rebels around midnight, the party pooper, and 4) more letters after my name on my business cards.

    And “ay-MEN!” on the privacy thing. The woman who writes as Jodi Thomas (historical romances, cozies) now has someone run interference for her at book signings because of overly-enthusiastic fans and a few weirdos. That news confirmed my decision to use a pen name, since I have a very rare (in the US) surname that is easy to track.

    • From what I have observed at Anime Cons and have heard from both The Spouse and The Daughter — having someone to run interference is a good thing.

  11. Hmm. I spent most of my first twenty years as a slave to tears, most of my twenties as a slave to depression, and a good chunk of my early thirties beset by hormones. And now, being unemployed and trying to get this translation done – they both seem to rule my life. I just don’t seem to be good at this whole free will thing.

    • You know what’s really good for that?

      Orange Mocha Frappuccino!

    • Translation, suburban?

      • Oh, I’m translating St. Beatus of Liebana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse. (Actually a cheerful book. Eco just has a grudge.) I got interested in it last year, and I thought it would be fun to do for 2012. But I keep finding more footnotes, and the newest critical edition came out in March right when I thought I was seeing the end of the tunnel.

        It’s probably going to turn out that it’s full of bad translation and dreadfully embarrassing to me. (I’ve already corrected a lot of boners I made a long time back.) But I’m an amateur, so I don’t have any reputation to lose; and it’s embarrassing for English speakers to have a thousand year old famous book that’s never been translated into English. And I’ve learned a lot about medieval Latin as well as the Apocalypse, and dipped into a good chunk of patristics, so it’s not wasted time.

        But now I just want to get to a stopping point and put something out.

  12. A very interesting read. I think many of us of a certain age go through that whole process you wrote about, no matter what career they chose and what kind of “fame” it creates – or not. We reach the point of self evaluation through many avenues, but at some point, unless very shallow or so lost in depression etc., it tends to happen.
    I think it comes in stages throughout life. In our teens, we grow up and have to decide what the next step will be. In our 20′s we are striving to learn a multitude of talents to reach the step we decided on, often changing course and objectives along the way. In our 30′s we are generally in a long term relationship and having our children. Another big step for most of us because having kids is a very scary thing. Then we hit 40. Oh boy, 40 . . . how the heck did that happen? It’s OK, because by then we have settled into house, home, career, relationship, and it is a good time to either cruise through the next ten years or re-evaluate our choices and decisions. Most of us re-evaluate, and either stay where we are because we are happy with our choices, or we panic and decide on a mid-life crises (women too), or, many of us realize that life is passing by fast, and we are no where near where we want to be in life.
    I’m pushing 60 now. And looking back, I can honestly say I did the mid-life crises thing by going off to England to complete my doctorate. Life stepped in, however, and at the loss of our eldest son, we became parents of his one year old daughter. I had to re-evaluate big time at this juncture in my life.
    So, at the age of 41, I was a new mom. My husband and I decided to work our way around the world. We moved back to England, on to Hong Kong, and finally to New Zealand before coming home to the US eight years later. It was worth it, every moment.
    Now my granddaughter is 18, going to college, in a long term relationship, and expecting her first child. Holy CATS! I am going to be a great grandmother at the age of 58. Time to re-evaluate again. I’ve bored everyone enough, thanks for the great blog and food for thought to add to mine.

    • Karron

      I’m turning fifty this year and it feels like I’ll NEVER be a grandmother, but to be honest, one kid is 21 and one 17. I wouldn’t/shouldn’t want it yet.

      • ppaulshoward

        My oldest nephew has two kids. That makes me feel older that being born in 1954. [Frown]

        • I think that’s what’s worrying me Paul. My oldest (sort of. Long story) nephew is NOW going to be a father. He’s 36. My other nephews, 31 and 27 are unmarried. I will never live long enough to see my grandkids! (SOBS.) Our family always married late for the culture, which these days translates to REALLY late.

          • ppaulshoward

            Count your blessings Sarah. I’m single (never married) and likely to remain single as long as I’m caring for Mom. You, on the other hand, are married, have a good writing career with two kids. I’ll likely never have children let alone grandchildren. [Smile]

          • My sisters married around 18-19 years old. My brothers except one (at 17) were married in mid to late 30s. I was married at 32. My dad was 27. So we are later except for the girls too. Also the ones who married later had either no children or less children than the early ones. I guess that is normal too.

      • When the time is right, it will happen. And 50 is a breeze compared to turning 40!

  13. And then there’s me, who spent so much of his formative years having to act like someone else, he now has not the first fucking clue who he actually is….