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I have a book coming out Real Soon Now, and a co-author attached to that book who up to now has lived a peaceful life of relative anonymnity. But he's starting to get the kinds of weird emails that I have been living with for a while now. Seeing that, has made me reflect on the rules of thumb I have invented for myself over the years.

Every stranger who writes to me (and I have the world's easiest name to Google, there's no hiding) deserves one polite answer. This assumes, of course, that they are actually writing to me, not just including me on a spam list. (It's pretty easy to tell the difference.)

After one reply, I simply cannot reply any further except in exceptional cases, because I could not possibly handle the volume of the correspondence. Mind you, one or two such letters a day is all I get -- I am no Scalzi -- but I don't have the personality type to be able to handle, emotionally, talking to more strangers than once or twice a month -- I am no Scalzi.

Furthermore, let me make clear to everyone who writes:

1. No, it is not a meteorite. There are many good sites online to help you see why it is not a meteorite. If you can't figure out how to find them with Google, you can't figure out for yourself that it's not a meteorite.

2. I do not do spiritual direction by email. That's because, first of all, I do not do spiritual direction at all, not even face to face; that's not where my talents and training lie. But in fact, no one can do spiritual direction by email. It takes face-to-face contact to be able to read voice inflections and body language; and it takes living in the same community to be able to understand the subtext of what's being said, in both directions.

3. It wasn't a UFO. If you saw a UFO (and especially if your friend whom you really trust saw a UFO) I don't want to know about it. Yes, I know, some day someone will make contact with the Nebulons from Planet 10 and the human race will never be the same. I do not want to be that person. I suspect, if you thought it through, you would realize that you wouldn't want to be that person, either. If you don't know what I mean, read the book of the prophet Jeremiah.

4. I will not read your manuscript. Join a local writer's group. I will not recommend you to my publisher/agent/editor, either. That's Not My Job. Getting published is a crapshoot. There is no trick or logic. Having a successful book, ditto. There are plenty of sites on line with advice, good or bad, about how to accomplish it. Whatever you do, you won't be able to do what I did (join the Jesuits, get assigned to the Vatican) so I really have no useful experience to pass on to you, in any event.

5. If you send me, unsolicited, a copy of your book I will immediately send it to recycling. Likewise a copy of your video. I will never click on a link you send me, ever. My time is limited, and it's already paid for by other people; you have no right to it.

6. There is no rule six.

(I thank pnh for teaching me the term "microcelebrity")


Sep. 22nd, 2014 02:16 am (UTC)
Some umbrage.
> It wasn't a UFO.

"UFO" doesn't automatically classify something as a ship from beyond the stars, full of greys fixin' to probe some monkey's uncle. The acronym classifies an object as being unidentified that happened to be flying.

There are many prosaic explanations for UFOs, like plasma phenomena (e.g., jets or sprites), satellites, drones, Venus, swamp gas, or chinese lanterns. But no one knows what they are until the evidence is challenged, and hard questions are raised about the incident. It's the difference between skepticism, part and parcel of science, and cynicism, confused as skepticism, where something's dismissed out of hand.
Sep. 22nd, 2014 02:25 am (UTC)
Re: Some umbrage.
Burnt Umbrage is my favorite Crayola color...

Point taken about the term UFO. I made the same point myself, previously, at http://brotherguy.livejournal.com/74394.html

What most people call "UFO" is probably better described as an MFO: by which of course I mean a Misidentified Flying Object. (No other usages of "MF" need apply.)



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