In the aftermath of the CNN column, I received a whole lot of positive feedback and a whole little of negative feedback. The positive was great—I still dig kind words, as we all do. The negative takes, however, are actually fascinating. In that, oddly, I get it.
The general thought is this: What kind of SI writer lowers himself to tracking down 23-year olds in their basements? What the $#@@ is wrong with you?
It got me to thinking about perception and reality—both of the self, and from others.
Throughout my career, I have never thought of myself as a “big-time” writer or even an “SI” writer. I’m just a guy who writes because he loves writing. No more important than the basement blogger, no less important than Lupica or Layden. I write because I enjoy it and—some would argue—it’s a talent. I’m better at expressing my thoughts via writing than speaking. Hence, me and the page.
For some reason, however, people don’t always like successful (if you consider me to be successful, which if definitely up for debate) mainstream writers. Or, for that matter, successful anythings. If you’ve attained success, you must be cocky, snide, rude, a dick. Maybe this sounds dumb, and maybe it is dumb—but sometimes it seems as if I’m no longer allowed to mix it up with others. In other words, if I’m a blogger and you’re a blogger, we can both have at it. But if I write for SI and you’re a blogger, my criticizing you is a form of bullying; of being excessively arrogant. Hmm … maybe I’m not stating this well. It’s kinda confusing to me.
It’s also like—if you’re me, and you take the time to read what people are writing about your work, well, you’re pathetic. It’s a big no-no, and I’m not sure why. Why is it wrong for me to see what people think of a column? And why is it wrong for me to contact people who get excessively rude? I mean, it’s OK for someone to call me a f^%$wad, but if I then reply to the person I’m the one open for criticism? Why? I don’t get it.
I am not famous or even half-famous. I am a writer with a wife and two kids who struggles to pay the bills and who’s always looking for the next book idea. I love exchanging thoughts and ideas, and can’t believe how fortunate I am to write for a living.