It’s fashionable to be cool, isn’t it? Laid back, unimpressed by life and anything it has to say to us. Cynical? Definitely. Slightly sarcastic? Probably. Someone comments and a teenager (and increasingly others, you, me) say ‘Whatever.’ And I have to say, I don’t really get it.
I like to congratulate, to jump up and down with joy, both for things that happen to me and that happen to friends and family. I am always impressed when someone does something amazing, especially if it’s something I couldn’t possibly do or wouldn’t dream of attempting.
I picked up a tweet earlier by Harlan Coben. He wrote ‘Got nothing to say so insert snarky Olympic coverage tweet’.
My reaction was, and I tweeted back, ‘why snarky?’
As writers, we want people – and I am pretty sure Harlan Coben would fall into this category – not only to like our work, but to enthuse about it. We want them to read it, tell others about it, tell us it’s great and ask for more. If published, we want them to go out and spend a good proportion of their hard earned cash on it.
Now here’s a thing: cool and enthusiastic are not good bedfellows.
Cool says, maybe, if you like, whatever. I couldn’t care less.
Enthusiastic says Brilliant, love it, bring it on, well done. Give me more.
Cool can’t be bothered to get out of bed in the morning, let alone trundle all the way down to the bookshop to buy your latest tome.
Enthusiastic is there at the book launch, at midnight if you’re J.K.Rowling.
And enthusiastic also rejoices in the successes of others, who may be doing something we cannot.
I am not especially fashionable. I’m not much bothered about designer labels (er, small confession here, except for my handbags), don’t like celebrity for celebrity’s sake, don’t wear my jeans at half-mast and don’t go a bundle on tv soaps, so I am definitely not cool.
I don’t do sport. Don’t watch football, don’t like much athletics and disapprove of boxing.
But I do recognise that those who not only do like sport, but achieve the heights of greatness in their chosen discipline deserve praise, not knocking. I have watched quite a lot of the Olympic coverage and missed quite a lot more. In all that I have seen, people who have worked very hard, often for many years, attempt to be the best they can be, to do the best they can do.
Are those Olympians very different to writers?
Should we not be offering them the same sort of encouragement and congratulations that we would give fellow writers? And if we don’t feel able to do that, maybe we should keep out heads down and our minds firmly on the work in progress.