"Paul Cornell is SO rude!"

Yesterday, Doctor Who luminary and Marvel Comics star Paul Cornell decided to answer every tweet he recieved to his Twitter account. All was well and good until someone decided to tell him that he'd like to work with him and asked him to read some of his stuff. Cornell gave what I think is the only response you can give to someone who asks you a question like that: "Why would I do that?" The Tweeter in question got arsey and stomped off in a huff, and that was that until everyone rounded on him and started a brief meme that inspired the title of this blog post. It also raised some valid points about the nature of this funny book business (and indeed the nature of writing in general), and one in particular stood out: attitude.

The Tweeter claimed that he was 'good', that he saw Cornell as his peer and then bitched that Cornell was privileged
. This got me thinking about a few things that that have always been bees in my bonnet when it comes to this kind of thing.

Let me say right now that I'm not completely innocent when it comes to this kind of thing. I've had my fair share of run ins with editors and professionals, but I've learned from each encounter. Yes, it's immensely frustrating to see inferior writers getting good gigs, and it's also equally infuriating trying to catch a break and get editors to sit up and notice you, but you have to take most of it on the chin and get on with it. Yes, some editors can be arsey with you, but that's the nature of the game; you have to roll with it and remember that they're trying to do their jobs.

First off, telling someone you're good is a waste of time: you have to prove it. You have to be able to show to editors that you can actually do more than string a sentence together; you have to prove that you can actually write.

I've lost track of the times I've met people who claim to be writers, but can't write for toffee (they're also usually arrogant and have their heads up their own arse - an arrogance born out of ignorance, as someone put it); I've also lost track of the times I've met other struggling writers and watched them lose interest in me as soon as I mention that I've got a graphic novel deal and had work published before that. So, if that Tweeter thinks that Cornell is privileged because he's worked hard at his craft and is now reaping the benefits, then I guess, by that definition, I'm privileged, too.

If the truth be told, I've been working at this writing lark for a lot longer than people think. I've been around the block with it a few times on the submission trail and let my ego take a good solid kicking in process; mix that with my background and my constant feeling of not fitting in, and I think I'm pretty fucking grounded compared to a lot of people in my situation. I genuinely don't approach editors or publishers with a submission that I think is clearly The Greatest Thing Ever and that they'd be fools if they don't bite my hand off for it. In fact, just about every submission I've sent to FutureQuake has a self-deprecating remark in the e-mail (FQ editor extraordinaire Bolt-01 actually queried that on my last submission, and pointed out that I've had a pretty solid hit rate with them, so why did I still do it?). The truth of it is, if you ask me to my face if I think I'm a good writer, I'll tell you, honestly, that I think I'm OK, but I've still got a long way to go.

Would I refer to Cornell as my peer? No, I wouldn't, but I wouldn't call the Tweeter in question my peer either, no matter how much he would disagree. I wouldn't class myself as an artist, either, unlike our Tweeter. I'm nothing but a simple working class lad that can sometimes put sentences together in a pleasing manner.

I've taken the first small steps into a different world and I'm still finding my way around it, so the only people I'd call my peers at the minute would be the people I've been fortunate enough to work with. I've learned a lot from each and every one of them, and I hope that it's going toward making me a better writer. It truly has been an invaluable experience, and one that I think the Tweeter - and a lot of other people starting out - could do with sharing. But whether they'll be able to reign in their egos and actually go for it is another matter entirely.

One thing that yesterday's little flaming has taught me, though, is that you shouldn't use such a public platform as Twitter to make a complete arse of yourself. Such things should really be done in private...

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