Just from reading the title of this article, without even knowing what it’s about yet, one might think right away “People bash authors on the internet all the time!” True. But in this case I’m talking about how fans of certain authors will treat them like they’re this mentor figure, or like they…
Respectfully, you are not in this position. You are speaking as someone in neither position in this discussion.
My frustration comes from wanting to help. But there is literally nothing I can do to help someone who comes at this from the position of the original posted (who I do NOT want to feel bad, and I’m positive is a nice person).
No one asked to be put on a pedestal. But I spend endless hours, ENDLESS hours, trying to help people and encourage people to do creative work, particularly comics work. I answer questions endlessly. I post at length here, on Facebook, on my message board, on my former blog, and many other places, including the Huffington Post and comics journalism websites. I answer parts of this question in at least half of the non-title specific interviews I do. I do that for free, to try to help. I’m not selling anything, and where many writers don’t actually WANT new writers in the industry, I have given blurbs, forwards, scripts, and actual stories to fledgling producers so many times I can’t keep count. I almost never turn a serious aspiring creator’s request for help down.
But that is the key element here, the ‘serious aspiring creator.’
If a poster can use Google to find a good barbecue restaurant, or to look up the cast of an obscure 1950’s science fiction movie, they can certainly find out if a writer has covered this topic in-depth many, many times before, trying to be helpful. It shows if a person is serious or not. And no working writer can take the time to try to answer ONE individual in depth in any helpful way with the amount of information I was given.
I get frustrated because I WANT to help. If this person said, “I have a comic I am hoping you will read,” or asked a specific question, or had a particular obstacle, I would absolutely try to help. Asking how to break in is like asking how to win the Olympics, it is impossible to answer such a massive question without knowing any details of the asker and how far along the process they are already. And I have answered it as best I can many, many times before.
I COULD just say what a lot of people say when they are trying to just avoid actually helping, I could just say, “work hard, keep writing,” whatever. But honestly, if the asker doesn’t know that already, there is nothing I can say that will help.
No one asked to be put on a pedestal, but access doesn’t mean obligation, either, and it’s a little surprising that this article seems to imply that it does. There are very, very few writers who have posted as much on this topic as I have. My frustration is that I genuinely believe someone who seriously planned on working in this industry would have done the minimum effort to look for this information online already.
I will write to the person who asked, I don’t want them to be discouraged, but writing is hard, breaking in is a lot harder, and pros who are willing to help want to see that you at least have a plan in mind, even if it is the starting stages. They can’t help without that, no way, no how, and that is frustrating when you truly WANT to help.