Thursday, October 10, 2013


Courtesy of Jamal Yaseem Igle
So today my latest project, the Dark Horse Comics six-issue mini-series TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY, got announced on Newsarama and on the Dark Horse sci-fi panel at the New York Comic Con (I can't get to the convention till tomorrow, so I have to just sit here and envy everyone who's already there).

I'm really happy with this project. It's a solid, action-packed story, I'm having a lot of fun writing it, and I get to work with a couple of guys I've collaborated with in the past -- Jamal Igle and Ray Snyder -- so it's an awesome reunion on top of everything else. I've known about it for months, of course, but couldn't say anything about it till its official unveiling.

Now the news is out, and one of the first comments on the Newsarama Facebook article was "Sounds dumb." Another one was, in its entirety, "No." Yet another started out with "Ugh."

Are things like that pleasant to see? Not really. But I've been a freelance writer for a couple decades now, and one of the most valuable lessons you have to learn if you're going to do this is to let reactions like that roll off your back.

It's a different landscape now from when I started out, because in the early 90's there was no Internet, no comments sections, and no avenue for knee-jerk reactions, positive or negative. Now, anyone anywhere can fill comments sections with whatever amount of vitriol and bile they feel like -- and spewing negativity is not only easy, it's fun.

Am I saying all Internet comments everywhere are invalid? Well, no. But the thing is, there's no way for you to know who's genuinely unhappy with your work and who's just saying nasty stuff because it's fun. So you can't let any of it affect you.

The unpleasant flip-side of this is that, if you're not going to put a lot of weight behind the negative comments, you can't really put a lot of weight behind the positive comments, either. Connecting with your readers is vitally important, yes -- more important now than ever. But YOUR SELF-ESTEEM cannot be dictated by what strangers on the Internet say about you. Because, no matter what you do, no matter how good you are, someone's going to say some nasty stuff about you, because it's easy, and because they can.

This disconnect is easier said than done, but you have to do it. That, and the patience required to a) wait to hear whether a project will get greenlit, and b) wait until the project comes out, are two of the most important qualities a professional writer has to cultivate. (Well, okay, the need for patience only applies if you're not self-publishing, but I've never self-published anything, so I won't pretend to know much about it.)

A few years ago, I was at a cookout at Rich Dansky's house. Rich is the head Tom Clancy writer for Red Storm Entertainment; he's also a novelist, among many other accomplishments. Another friend of ours was asking about some project I had in the works, and I said that it would probably come out in another six or eight months. When asked how I could stand waiting that long, I shrugged and said it was something I'd gotten used to. Rich said, "Yeah--after you do this kind of thing for a while, your nerve endings just get sort of worn off."

It's a valuable kind of numbness to have.

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