I’m in the middle of the first volume of Patterson’s meticulous biography of Robert Heinlein (Robert A. Heinlein in Dialogue with His Century: Learning Curve) and among the many interesting things RAH said, in interesting ways, the following two quotes stuck out.
The first one is a downer, but it goes to show that some things don’t change fast enough, sadly enough. Writing to Marion Zimmer Bradley in 1964, he had this to say about behavior he experienced at the hands of people who ostensibly loved science fiction in general and his work in specific:
“The unique problem of organized fandom is one that I have wondered about for many years. Here is a group made up largely of well-intentioned and mentally-interesting people — how is it and why is it that they tolerate among themselves a percentage of utter jerks?–people with no respect for privacy, no hesitation at all about libel and slander, and a sadistic drive to inflict pain. Marion, I do not understand it.”
I’ve been lucky in this, and have encountered few utter jerks. A lot of friends and artists I’ve worked with have not — this is especially true for the women professionals — and I’m clearly no smarter than Heinlein, since I also do not understand it.
On a more positive note (in terms of maintaining sanity) RAH, writing to John W. Campbell in 1941, shows he knew not to be so foolish as to take reviews that glow to heart:
“The write-up made me sound so omniscient that I was tempted to call myself up and ask for some advice and a little coaching.”
I’ve been lucky to get some flattering reviews myself, and I do wonder who that writer is they’re talking about, and could I maybe meet him someday.
The converse is true as well. When someone hates your book (I just noticed my first one-star review for Feynman on Amazon) it doesn’t mean I’m no longer omniscient…I just never was.
Now, back to writing things I hope I can be proud of, and that maybe some other people will like.