I have an important professional anniversary coming up this week, so I had planned on writing a post about that today, but a question from a reader spurred me to write this post about being different today instead.
It’s often difficult being different. Ask any redheaded kid in a world that’s come up with a special name for them that blondes and brunettes don’t have to deal with. Ask any person who has abilities other people don’t and refuses to be embarrassed about them. Ask anyone who’s naturally shy and has had to deal with teachers who think their job is to bring them out of their shell, as if being in that shell is some kind of problem.
I know all about being different. I’ve been this way all my life.
My being different as an author manifests itself in a lot of ways that I know my fellow authors don’t understand. I don’t drop names like most authors do. If I read a book I love, it’s highly unlikely I’m going to tag the author in a post and get all fangirly. For one, I’m painfully shy so I just would never do that. And to be honest, it always comes off as cheesy when I see it done. It’s very popular in my genre especially. It’s like a little clique that the authors who do it have. I guess that’s their right to, but it’s just not my style.
If I mention a fellow author or pimp their book (and that happens VERY rarely), it’s because I know them to not only have written something I like and admire but also to be the kind of professional I can admire. My reputation is important to me, so I don’t throw it around with namedropping whoever is popular at the moment in the hopes that author’s fans will flock to me.
I guess you already know another way I’m different than most authors in my genre. I say very little in social media, but when I do speak, I shoot from the hip. I have zero tolerance for bullshit and fakeness. Can I tell you how difficult my days are sometimes? Some days I want to post and call people out on their fake humility or their pretending to be nice online when behind the scenes I know they’re quite the backstabbing bitch.
But I don’t and the reason why is simple. It’s not professional, and I strive to be that in everything I do in my career. However, now you know why I say so little most of the time. But to all those people who think they’re fooling everyone, you aren’t. Some of us just choose to file the knowledge of who you really are away and wait for your true colors to surface. When it comes time to say something, though, I will and I’ll tell the truth.
The being different idea came up this morning when a reader asked me about playlists for my books. I don’t listen to music most of my fellow authors do, so putting together a playlist is always a chore. Any playlist I have for my books likely is more my assistant than me. She listens to current music, so I ask her every time I have to make one up. 🙂
Music doesn’t play that role in my writing, to be honest. Movies do, though.
Let me explain. Often when I’m writing a book, the same movie will come on repeatedly (I have the TV on whenever I’m writing and it’s usually HBO or one of the movie channels playing in the background). Sometimes I’ll watch the same movie a dozen or two times while I’m writing a book. For example, while I was writing Crash Into Me, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seemed to be on quite often. One day after it had played five or six times as I wrote I decided it must mean something so I DVR’d it and for every Heart of Stone book after that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has played on an almost constant loop as I wrote.
When I tell people that it usually leads to the next question of how did the film influence the book. I have no idea. I don’t see any of the film in the story, but I guess it’s possible it’s in there somewhere.
For the Club X series, the Hunger Games movies were on constantly as I wrote Temptation, Surrender, Possession, and Satisfaction. Like when I was writing Crash Into Me, Hunger Games and Catching Fire seemed to be on a lot during the writing of Temptation, so I DVR’d them and they were on every moment I wrote the following three Club X books. Again, can you see the influence in the books? I don’t know.
I don’t talk much about being different because I’ve always been different and I learned at an early age it’s rarely a good thing. I’m a natural redhead with freckles, so I know what being picked on for being that is like. I have some odd abilities–well, I don’t think they’re odd, but people who don’t have them do–so I know how it can be when people find out about them.
For example, while I don’t have an eidetic memory, I remember anything that I hear. My best friend can attest to the fact that all I have to do is hear a song or piece of music once and I will forever know the notes and lyrics. I also remember everything people say to me (much to their chagrin sometimes). This ability takes no effort. I’ve been able to do these things since I was a child. Needless to say, school was always a breeze for me because I only needed to hear something once and that was it. (Math is the exception. You can talk to me about math until you’re blue in the face. It won’t matter. Unless a number has a dollar sign next to it, I’m unable to do much with math.) It wasn’t surprising that I became a history prof. What better job for a person with a memory like mine? 🙂
Another odd ability I possess is that I can smell when someone’s sick. I have no idea why. This ability didn’t come about until I was pregnant with my son. I’ve always had a heightened sense of hearing (my mother used to call me eagle ear LOL), but my sense of smell was like everyone else’s. Then I became pregnant with my son and I was sick as a dog for the whole nine months. I lost 28 pounds and he was over 8 pounds sick. There was no glowing for this pregnant lady with that kid.
But I digress.
So while I was so sick I couldn’t eat a thing for nearly a year, my sense of smell became amplified like you wouldn’t believe. I had hoped it would go away once I gave birth to the little guy, but no such luck. Being able to smell things with some hyper sense of smell is not a good thing. I can smell people who haven’t showered from across a huge room. It sucks.People’s perfume and cologne hit me like a Mack truck even when they just pass by me.
A short time after his birth, I realized it wasn’t just ordinary odors I could smell more than other people. It was sickness. Not all sickness, though. Mostly just the deadly kind. One of my close friends was sick for months before he ended up in the hospital and almost didn’t make it, but I’d been telling him for ages that he smelled strange. When he returned from being in the hospital for three weeks and nearly dying, he told me the first thing he noticed was how bad his clothes smelled, even ones he’d washed right before he went in to the hospital. When he described the smell, I knew exactly what it was–the same odor I’d smelled on him all that time. More times than I want to remember I’ve smelled that awful smell on people I know. And convincing people that they’re sick isn’t anything I like to do either. It’s always awkward. I’ve had a number of times I knew the stranger I was standing next to or speaking to at a store is sick, likely before they knew it, but how do you tell someone you think there’s something wrong with them and you hope they go to the doctor soon?
Being different in a world that wants me to be the same as everyone else is probably one of the biggest reasons I’m so shy. So if it seems like I’m standoffish or cold, I’m not. I’m just different.