Some interesting food for thought last weekend. First, I've been attending CoyoteCon, an online writers conference. It's been great, lots of good advice, fun panels, and friends. Second, I received my first fan email from someone I have no personal connection with. Third, I ran across this blog post by Brian Hodge. I've come away with a very important lesson.
Character matters. Who you are shows, no matter how hard you try to hide it. Within a few minutes, usually by the end of their introduction, I could tell which of the guests at CoyoteCon were genuinely nice people and which ones were there to feed their ego. It's a normal mix for a con and not one I'm going to judge, but I've noticed a trend with successful authors. To quote a quote from Brian's post, “Money doesn’t change you. It just reveals who you are when you don’t have to be nice.” Most big-name authors I've met are wonderful, kind, generous people. Some, unfortunately, are not.
So we come to my fan mail. I'm new in the publishing world. This fan was kind enough to read the free stories on my website and drop me an email letting me know she particularly enjoyed one of the stories. As an author, I was thrilled to hear from her and thrilled that she liked my work enough to comment on it. I sent her a reply thanking her, and wishing her well with her writing. I'm not the best correspondent, just ask my family, but I can try.
Then I read Brian's post. He very eloquently makes an important point, character matters. How many extremely successful actors, writers, sports heroes, politicians, etc. are genuinely nice people? I really don't know. It's only the bad behavior that makes the news, and unfortunately, there is a lot of it out there.
I work part-time doing customer support for an iPhone app company. Courtesy matters. A polite request or complaint is more likely to get you results although I can't always give you what you want. I'm also involved with the Boy Scouts of America as a merit badge counselor and Cub leader. Again, character matters. BSA's mission is to build character in youth by teaching them respect, courtesy, honesty, integrity, cleanliness, faith, and self-reliance.
Character matters. Virtues that our society has neglected and discarded matter. Let's return to the days of common courtesy and integrity. Starting with me.