So, last night I was at Serpent’s Tails’ drinks to wish Attica Locke good luck for the Orange for Black Water Rising (good book). It was in a lovely little indie bookshop, and I had a great chat with the owner and we talked about me doing an event there and all was welcoming and splendid.
As I was leaving I introduced myself to thank the young woman who’d been selling Attica’s books and pointing thirsty writers in the direction of the wine. She gave me a copy of her literary magazine. I’m quite often given things like this. Usually people say please let us know if you have a story or an essay or something we can use. I like to do those things, it’s a place to have ideas that are a little out of the mainstream and a new forum, so I said how lovely, maybe I could do something for you. Her reply was “well, it’s not that easy, you could submit something and I’ll see”. Thinking that behaving as if I’d just been slapped in the face might be a little excessive, I kept on with the smiling and making nice and said, well I’ll give you my email address and if you want me to do something for you, do get in touch. She grinned a little askew like I was a mad lady and replied that she had a “scrap of paper” (the very words) and I could write my email address on that. I did. And left, thinking about manners.
She has no idea who the hell Stelladuffy is (and I honestly don’t think there’s any reason she ought to) and thought I was a mad woman who had no right to be offering my literary services.
She knows exactly who Stelladuffy is and wanted to put me in my place. Wherever that might be.
She doesn’t care either way, just doesn’t like the idea of people offering to be writers.
But … what I think is that any of those reasons for behaving that way are rude. It doesn’t matter who I am, or am not, what I’ve done or not done. It takes so little to say to someone, sure, feel free to get in touch with me if you want to do something. And then ignore their email or damn them with faint praise or outright tell them you hate their work or whatever. I know it’s hard to make a living in the arts and I know publishing’s having a hard time right now and I know some people simply do think their work is better than others, their standard higher, their aims greater – all that I get. But you know, common civility, always good.
And no doubt I’ve been dismissive or not interested or plain rude in my time, so it’s always good to be reminded that gentle politeness is of value. Well reminded!
Meanwhile, v nice little Sunday Times review for Theodora.
Of course, I do think a dancer, from whatever century, would know about dehydration, and Rehan (who knows about these things) is sure the Greek sceptics were way earlier than this, so there’s nothing wrong with a little scepticism, but on the whole, very welcome.