Last week I failed to answer the prompt of the book that influenced me the most. This week I'll fail again, because, really, I don't want to meet the authors I admire the most.
What would I say?
Truly, I'd be at a loss for words or, worse yet, come across as a blithering idiot or offensively critical.
Authors have their own distinct ways of going about their business. No two authors follow the exact same processes. For something so generic as "I wrote a book," the solitary endeavor of actual writing lends itself to the eccentricities and quirks of the individual writer.
For instance, I admire Mark Twain, although I've read precious little of his work. His wit and brevity raise the standard. I love Last of the Mohicans, although the book itself is a horrible example of storytelling. I doubt I have anything in common with Robin McKinley, C. L. Wilson, Dick Francis, or Robert B. Parker; so, with writing--like politics and religion--excluded from discussion, there would be precious little to talk about.
Let's not go there.
Should the occasion arise that a reader wanted to meet me, the situation would remain just as awkward. I could pontificate on the qualities of good writing--and, if you read my blog, then you know I do--but lecture doesn't make for dialogue. Conversation needs at least two people to speak and listen and respond. A reader could ask me about horses, alpacas, llamas, or my children. Of those topics, the one that will find the greatest commonality is that of children.
It doesn't escape me that an unwillingness to discuss writing may come across as arrogance, as though I implied I had nothing to learn from other authors. Nothing could be further from the truth. That incorrect perception arises from an old childhood accusation regarding the sacrament of reconciliation, better known as confession. I did not want to go and resented being forced to comply. I never denied having committed those small sins, but neither did I regret them. That attitude received accusations that I considered myself perfect, incapable of sin. No, I recognized my guilt, but I wasn't sorry for it. Regardless, I went to church, whipped up some false remorse, and then confessed my sins.
Yes, I'm aware the above confession likely indicates some strongly psychopathic tendencies. That, of course, brings me to that funny scene in the 1984 mobster spoof Johnny Dangerously in which Danny Vermin declares his handicap.
After writing professionally for decades, I feel I have a pretty good command of the craft. I know what I know and remain open to learning what I don't know. But as for meeting those authors whom I admire, no, I'd rather leave them on their pedestals. Let's respect the distance and allow that distance to uphold respect.