Learning From People You Dislike: Steven Savage

This first appeared as a post in Aug 2011 on The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose blog.

Let’s be honest, we all have some author we don’t like. Perhaps we feel their writing is shallow. Perhaps we feel they’re sort of annoying. Perhaps they just rub us the wrong way. Perhaps they feel they’re a bit over-rated. Let’s be honest – those of us who write are passionate, and passion can also involve passionately not liking someone.

It may not even be personal — and probably isn’t. There are authors, often successful ones, we just don’t like.

We’re missing the chance to learn from them.

I realized this when, while speaking at a convention, the question of bad but popular fiction came up. Now admittedly I’m all for low-quality-but-fun comfort food stories and tales, but I also admit there’s some serious crap out there. But as I was discussing this with my audience, I realized something.

Just because you don’t like an author — perhaps even legitimately — doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. In fact, you may be missing some very important lessons by writing off “that person.”

At that panel I came to realize how many times I had learned from authors and writers and so on who, though I had problems with them (perhaps even serious ones), did have something to teach me. Perhaps it was about endurance, or good marketing, or building a loyal following, or even how to write something banal into something decent.

So I invite you to experience this lesson yourself. Take a look at authors you dislike or disapprove of — and ask what you can learn from them. You don’t have to agree with them or like them (though you may certainly understand them better), just learn.

You’ll probably be pretty surprised, and even a bit humbled.

But you’ll be a bit more educated as well.

Steven Savage 2014Steven Savage in his own words:

I’m Steven Savage, and I am Geek 2.0.

OK … that sounds either pretentious or obscure, and I try not to be either too much.  So what do I mean by Geek 2.0?

Geek 2.0 is a lifestyle.  It’s about taking the geeky values of technology, knowledge, creativity, and media as far as possible. It’s a way of life – and a way of contributing to society.

I believe in taking Geekiness farther – into the next iteration, into 2.0.

Steven Savage is the author of the Fan to Pro blog and books (Unlocking Career Insights With Your HobbiesConvention Career Connection; Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers; Focused Fandom: Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers; Inhuman Resources; and Progeek Rising), has his own web site, and incidentally is the mind behind the popular Seventh Sanctum site. He also writes for Nerd Caliber and Comics Bulletin.