I’ve been thinking about this thing that happened to me at Emerald City Comicon. I started to post about it on Twitter but then realized it was upsetting me more than I was aware of at first, so now I’m just writing a full post about it so I can let it go and move on.
I went to my very first convention to promote my children’s book, Piggy and Pug, up in Seattle two weekends ago. I had a great time meeting a bunch of kids and adults who were excited to get my book. Some people already owned it and brought it from home for me to sign, some read a copy I had out on my table and loved it so they got one for themselves, and some came to get a copy after hearing me talk about it in panels or after hearing me read it in the Family HQ area. I met teachers who were excited to read it to their students, librarians who were excited to get a copy for their local or school library, and new parents who were building a library for their little ones to read it when they got older. I had been promoting it online for about 6 weeks by this point, but the outpouring of support at ECCC was so completely unexpected. It was incredible to meet all of these people who were excited to take home something I made. Instead of writing about that whole experience again, you can just read about it (and see the adorable pics) here.
So here’s a thing I am very aware of; we can’t please everyone. There’s always going to be critics who just want to voice their opinion on why you made a thing that doesn’t appeal to them therefore, no one else should like it. I know this is going to happen, and I am okay with it. I wrote the book that 5 year old me would have loved to have read, and that 48 year old me happens to really enjoy as well. As it turns out, others seem to enjoy this book I wrote and want to have one of their own. Great!
Near the end of the day that Sunday, I had a few minutes where no one was at my table, so my friend and I were sitting together and talking when a woman approached us, looked up at my banner and said “Wheaton. Are you related to Wil Wheaton?” I looked up at her, smiled, said hello, and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Anne. Yes, I’m related to Wil. He’s my husband.”
This woman told me she’s an author, and has a table nearby, as she pointed across the walkway from where I was seated. I had been super busy the whole weekend so I never made it around the convention floor to see other booths or meet anyone else there. The only time I ever got up was to go to a panel or race to the bathroom real quick. “Bummer” I thought to myself, “but it was nice of her to come introduce herself!”
The woman continued speaking, I continued to smile, listening to her as she then says “I was trying to figure out why you were so busy all weekend and now it makes sense. It’s because you’re married to Wil Wheaton.”
Wow. What a gut punch.
This author had not read my book. She hadn’t even looked at the copy that was on the table, left there for anyone to peruse through. She wasn’t there as little kids told me how much they loved my story, or when adults were there to thank me for writing something like this. She just decided the only reason anyone was there to buy something I wrote was because of who I was married to.
I can’t even remember exactly what I said to her after that. All I remember is I continued to smile and be friendly, which was REALLY HARD TO DO, until she eventually went back to her table. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right? So my first impression of this author-lady is she has no idea what I wrote because she didn’t look at it and instead, she made a snap judgment of something I worked super fucking hard on for a year and a half of my life that no one could possibly enjoy on its own merits. And sadly, now I’m not interested in reading anything she’s written because our only interaction was this petty thing she did to me, and that’s a crummy way to feel.
I’m not sure if this type of experience is normal for other authors, or if our country is just so angry about everything that people have lost that brain filter thing that stops them from being shitty to other people, or what. What I do know is holding onto someone else’s unhappiness definitely isn’t good, and writing this down has helped me tremendously to let the crappy thing this woman did to me go. I’m going to go back to thinking about all of the positive that came out of that weekend instead. TAKE THAT, BRAIN.
Mom-voice here to remind you we’re all just doing the best we can in this world. I know we can all have good days and bad but please, for the sake of humanity, try a little kindness when you’re interacting with others. You’ll be glad you did.