Seneca, British Museum – By Marie-Lan Ngyen (2011) Public domain
“When I urge you so strongly to your studies, it is my own interest which I am consulting; I want your friendship, and it cannot fall to my lot unless you proceed, as you have begun, with the task of developing yourself. For now, although you love me, you are not yet my friend. “But,” you reply, “are these words of different meaning?” Nay, more, they are totally unlike in meaning. A friend loves you of course; but one who loves you is not in every case your friend. Friendship, accordingly, is always helpful, but love sometimes even does harm. Try to perfect yourself, if for no other reason, in order that you learn how to love.”
-Epistle XXXV, Seneca
Mulling this over with my morning coffee. It packs a punch, as it makes me consider my parenting style (my kids are all under 5) and my relationship with them as they grow. It also makes me consider the difference between acquaintances and friends, and how we view family members.
It’s not you, it’s me.
Sure, you hooked me right away. The way you spoke, the way your outer appearance hinted at something deeper…that grabbed me. Stopped me in my tracks. Beguiled me. It was a crush.
And sure, you held me like a book ought, for a while, but I realized that I actually need to love you. In any courtship, the reader has to be won over. And so we cannot continue on in this lie.
There will be other readers for you! I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Will you stop texting me at 2:00 in the morning?
John Scalzi has an interesting post up about Author Events and audience turnout:
“… it happens to every writer. Ask nearly any writer who has done an event, and they will tell you a tale of at least one of their events populated by crickets and nothing else. Yes, even the best sellers. And here’s the thing about that: Even with the best sellers, it’s an event often in the not-too-recent past. Every time you do an event, you roll the dice. Sometimes you win and get a lot of people showing up. Sometimes you lose and you spend an awkward hour talking to the embarrassed bookstore staff. Either way, you deal with it, and then it’s off to the next one.”
Yikes! No fun!
I’ve been to a few readings and they’re pretty cool, but I don’t know how I’d do at one if I were in the spotlight. I tend to make jokes nobody laughs at when in front of big crowds. (Like that one time when I told a joke and the utter silence of the large room was broken by the solitary laughter of my husband.That’s why we’re married, baby.)
The only other experience I have is teaching high school classes and adult education classes. In both of those situations I had some control of the room so who knows what those people actually thought of me. If someone put me in front of an event and said, “entertain everyone!” I might just defecate a small rock. (For that image: you’re welcome.)
So here’s to hoping that all future social situations go smoothly for me!