By , on May 22, 2011


Thanks to the internet, we’re given an abundance of facts. Often incorrect, and most always impersonal; I think we’ve become addicted to researching these things. Like the terminal velocity of an air-laden swallow, or the weight of the human head, or how many types of ants there are.
Here are some facts one would be able to find about me:

My name (which, if you’re here reading this, you already know)
My age
Where I went to college
The name of my literary agent
The name of my publisher
The fact that my publisher revolutionized the crossword puzzle (had to toss that in there just because I find it interesting)
How many books my publisher bought from me, and…
How much my advance for said books was.

Factually, I seem to have a pretty good thing going. And don’t get me wrong, this blog post isn’t going to dispute that. This blog post is just my way of saying that facts do not make up an entire person. On any given day, you can google “Lauren DeStefano” and you will find those facts somewhere in the results. They won’t change. But you may be googling my name on a day someone close to me died, or I have a sinus infection, or my cat peed in my bed. You may be googling my name, reading those facts, while I’m in the middle of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

But then on another tier of the internet, there’s this thing called communication. I read comments on my fanpage, tweets on twitter, reviews on goodreads, and emails that all come to me from people I’ve never spoken to in person, whose faces I wouldn’t know in a crowd. People have said some truly wonderful things, and some truly awful things to me and about me.

Awful Things are a cluster of mini-monsters that always lurk in my periphery. They’re a result of my book and my information being made public, and on any given day I’ll encounter them. Awful Things will launch themselves at me like a team of rabid squirrels from a tree on a sunny spring day. They’ve been known to go for my kidneys, and they smell like toe jam.
Wonderful Things are a gaggle of fairy godmothers that flit around me in bright dresses, throwing sparkles at the ground before my steps. They’re also a result of my book and my information being made public. Wonderful Things take many forms: a thoughtful question about my book, a nice tweet from a reader, and, once or twice, a reader email so personal I MAYBE had a couple of tears.

This isn’t to say that Awful Things and Wonderful Things shouldn’t coexist. You probably have your fair share of them as well, whether or not you’re in publishing. But here’s the thing: I accept the Awful Things. Welcome them, even, because they’re a part of my job, the same way TPS reports and Flair are a part of whatever that guy’s job was in Office Space. And as for the Wonderful Things, they have the power to affect my whole day. They can be what compels me to open a word document and pummel through a scene that’s been giving me hell for days. They can make me smile when I’ve maybe not had such a good day.

When the Awful Things attack, all I can really do is guard my jugular. That’s easy enough. But when the Wonderful Things come out to play, when a reader expresses that they enjoyed what I created, that it meant something to them, that they’re curious about what comes next, sometimes the only thing I can do is answer their question or say “Thank you” which is, of course, never going to be enough.

I mean, let’s face it, there’s no way I can truncate this entire thing into 140 characters.

So, if you are one of the Awful Things, please aim away from the vital organs.

And if you’re one of the Wonderful Things, this one’s for you.

2 Comments to “So, uh, thanks for that.”

  1. Tara Hall says:

    This is really hard to deal with for me. I’ve always been a self-conscious person, somewhat insecure, and writing has been a struggle in and of itself. I hesitate to tell people I write at all, much less what I write. I rarely if ever let them read it. I assume they are all Awful Things.

    But there is a voice inside that persists. She says that my writing is good, that it’s great even, that it’s getting even better all the time. She says that someone will want to read it one day, maybe lots of people, and that even if they hate it, it’s still worth writing. She’s my Wonderful Thing, and I hold onto her like a fragile bird.

    I’m glad you don’t let the Awfuls get to you. That’s something I will have to work on, I imagine, and it’s always helpful to hear other author’s discuss that. Thank you!


    • Lauren says:

      Tara, sometimes this helps me-

      “But little by little,
      as you left their voices behind,
      the stars began to burn
      through the sheets of clouds,
      and there was a new voice,
      which you slowly
      recognized as your own”

      -Mary Oliver, The Journey

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