A bit of advice: If you ever meet a writer who’s work you have read…

Realize that the image you have constructed of them inside your head is mostly fictional, and that they are probably quite different than you expect.

What the heck am I talking about, you may ask:

The insightful John Scalzi talks about this “being fictional” problem at length on his Whatever blog here, and the equally insightful Elizabeth bear discusses being an fictional construct of her readers here.

I think eBear says it best:
“Essentially, I’m a fictional person to them. [the readers]

And they feel like they have ownership of that construct/fictional person, and sometimes they get very angry when I persist in being me and not the person they imagined. Which, I mean–okay, yeah. It happens to actors and musicians and sports figures a thousand-fold more, and politicians build their careers on capitalizing on this effect, but boy it takes some getting used to.”

This isn’t a new problem. It happens to celebrities of all types and levels (even lonely short story writers, especially if they write visceral horror/dark fantasy). It even happens to folks on WoW, and between coworkers at work.

As we watch people on TV/read stories by people/interact with people, we build a fictional construct of that person in our heads. We think we know them, know what they are thinking, know what they would do in a situation. Sometimes we even pass moral judgments on them.

I’m just saying… Be careful: the writer you meet is probably not the person you expect.

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