I’ve always tried to live by the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Last week I read a book by Barry Eisler, and I started thinking of how important it is as a writer to always think about how you treat, talk to, react to, and act around other people.
The first time I came into contact with Barry Eisler was at a mystery writers’ conference. He’s one of the big name suspense writers, but up until that conference I’d never heard of him. The printed conference program schedule had a short bio about him, and I liked that he’d worked for the CIA, had a black belt in Judo, and wrote about an assassin. I didn’t like that his talk was scheduled for a very early hour (I think it was 8:00 a.m.) on Sunday morning, but I talked myself into getting up even though I’d stayed up late the night before.
Several of us staggered into the room that morning and found Barry making Mimosas (Orange juice and champagne) for us. Yes, for all of us. We each received a small glass of the drink (at least all of us who wanted some) and once everyone was served, he began his talk.
I don’t remember what he said, but I’ll never forget that gesture. Then and there he turned me into a fan.
Of course it helps to be a best selling author if you’re going to put on parties for the masses (Lee Child has held one at every Bouchercon I’ve attended and Heather Graham held a marvelous one for attendees of the Sleuthfest I was at two years ago, and I see she’s doing so again this year), but I have fond memories of other writers I’ve met for the first time, writers who took time to talk, maybe spent some time with me, asked me how my day was going…any number of small gestures that make a person feel recognized. Sometimes this has led me to buy their books, other times its simply left me with a good impression of the person (so I’ll recommend their books to others).
On the other hand, I’ve had writers who have turned me off, who have acted as if they didn’t have time for me, made me feel as though I didn’t count. I’ve run into writers who see themselves as the next “greatest writer ever.” They brag about their sales, about the editors who are clamoring for their books, the movie deals that will be made. The key word here is “BRAG.” As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I don’t buy their books and I don’t recommend them to others.
Which probably means nothing to them, but their actions remind me of what I DON’T want to do. I don’t want to ignore others, belittle their efforts, or in any way make a person feel he or she is not important. I want to treat others as I like to be treated.
Do I always succeed? Probably not, but I try.
By the way, the Barry Eisler book I read last week was Fault Line. One thing I really loved about the book is it’s set in Silicon Valley with most of the action taking place along the Peninsula or in San Francisco. I grew up in the Bay Area and my parents moved to Los Altos in the 60s. Reading Fault Line was like taking a trip back to familiar territory.