On Bigotry, Self-Promotion and Summer

This week we’re talking about 3 things we’re NOT geeked out on.

Confession: I found this post difficult to write. I try to keep a positive outlook on life and don’t use my online outlets as a place to rant. Finding three things that irk me that I’m also willing to write about here has taken a lot of thought, not to mention a lot of cringing and angst.

Time to stop stalling. Here are 3 things I’m NOT geeked out on.


1. The Heat

I don’t mean the basketball team. I mean summer. Where I live, we’ve just reached triple digits. Oh goodie. Thus begins my hibernation. I dread summer the way some people in other parts of the US dread winter. Sometimes I think I have an unusual form of S.A.D. The incessant sunshine and heat brings me down.

2. Bigotry

While watching the video clip of Helen Thomas making her horrible, career-ending remarks this week, it occurred to me that she looked a lot like one of my high school English teachers. This teacher (name withheld) was an elderly woman, and a Nazi concentration camp survivor. On several occasions, she rolled up her sleeve to show us the number tattooed on her arm — something I didn’t fully appreciate as a teen. I learned more about the Holocaust in freshman English than I ever did in any history class throughout my education. Unfortunately, I learned very little about English in that class. But I digress.

This teacher adored me. I was her golden pupil. I didn’t understand why I had deserved such an honor, until the day she called me to her desk to ask about an assignment. While there, she also asked me if I was Jewish. My maiden name is very similar to a Jewish name; however, the story in our family goes that when we converted to Christianity, we added a cross to the end. A letter T. I told my teacher this story. And thus lost my honored, golden pupil status.

Bigotry, in any form, is ugly and hurtful.

3. Inauthenticity

Once upon a time at a conference, I was walking to dinner with a group of writers. I knew most of them, but a few I hadn’t yet met. One fellow I didn’t know asked my name, what I write, etc. I answered, and he continued to ask me about my projects and whatnot. “What about you?” I finally asked him. “What are you working on?” He then told me what he wrote, and…well…he’s a big time author.

Go ahead, laugh. Yes, I should have recognized him. To my defense, I didn’t see his name lanyard, but I knew who he was as soon as he said the title of his book. (OK, so I don’t know everyone by face yet. I’ll get there.)

The point is, he had confidence and depth. He was making conversation, making connections. He was interested in other people. He wasn’t doing somersaults to get attention. He was genuine. Authentic. Am I more likely to read his future books as a result? You bet.

I understand the need for promotion, especially with the changes in today’s publishing market. But lately it feels like there’s a lot of Me-Me-Me noise out there. When all I hear is someone promoting, I find myself wondering if there is any depth there. Any substance. There’s a certain desperation, a certain inauthenticity, in all the Look at me! chatter.

Of course not everyone I meet is like this. There are some very cool, very real people in Cyberland. I’ve met some of them, and they’re very cool and very real people in person, too. They use social networking to build connections, community. And when they post information, I read it. These are the people I’m interested in following, friending, tweet-chatting, and retweeting.

That’s the kind of author I want to be. That’s the kind of person I want to be. I want to connect with people. I want to be real.