I like hot stuff. On a scale of vanilla to battery acid, I prefer food heat levels somewhere in the radiator vicinity.
A fear years ago while travelling down in Louisiana, my companion and I selected a loverly little spot to grub on some ribs. The waiter took our order, including what kind of sauce we wanted the ribs soaked in.
I sat up straighter, pushed my shoulders back, and looked him dead in the eyes. “Hot. Like, super hot.”
“As hot as you’ve got,” my companion added.
“The Inferno’s the hottest we suggest.” His top lip quirked up. “But we do have a sauce that’s not on the menu: Petey’s Insane in the Membrane Melt Your Face Off Sauce.”
Mr. Waiter warned us. He tried to talk us out of slathering it on the ribs, and offered to bring a cup of Petey’s on the side. Helz naw! We were living the life. If we were gonna go hot, we were gonna go hot.
My companion & I tucked in our napkins. Kerosene fumes assaulted our noses as we closed in on the flammable meat. Eyes locked, we took our first experimental bites. The sting was immediate. We chewed, eyes watering, sweat erupting on our cheeks, not even pretending like the agony was worth it. Then the liquid lava kicked in. Holy hell was it insane. In our membranes, our tongues, teeth, tonsils, our very souls. We cried, coughed and chewed, somehow choked down the first napalm chunks.
And then our faces melted off.
Bread didn’t help. Drinking tea was like tossing water on a grease fire. We scraped our lips and tongue with our napkins—to no avail. Once the feeling returned to our limbs, we squeegeed the ribs with knives and napkins in an effort to strip off the incendiary barbecue paint. Damn that sadistic Petey and his murderous sauce!
Last week, I posted about a personal experience with an offer of rep and the reasons I declined. Going into the drafting of that post, I definitely weighed the risk of sharing it with the world. Sure, I could have kept it all tucked in, buried in the shadows, vaguely hinted at, or completely cloaked from interweb eyes. But I had a burning in my gut; sharing the experience would help others. This wasn’t just about me. And, perhaps, by openly sharing my experience, reasoning, and process, other querying writers might pause, and breathe, and assess an offer of rep not just with emotion, but also with tempered wisdom.
I know too many amazing writers who jumped at their first offer, only to regret that quick decision later.
So, tiptoeing onto the tightrope, I sought a way to share my story, while giving enough specifics to be genuine, but not too many that I’d tip over into unprofessional. I sought to be truthful, to speak with candor, while only naming one party—myself. Personally, I believe I stayed on the tightrope.
The positive response was overwhelming. Something in my words obviously struck a chord. My personal favorite DM: You’ve got balls of steel, man. Kudos. An agent took the time to send me an encouraging email regarding the post. Folks engaged in active conversation about the topic. Which is to say: this hush-hush thing was laid out on the table where everyone could see, poke, and discuss it.
As in all public things, which are open for judgment, my post received a few tsk tsk tsks.
– Opacity helps no one.
– Transparency can actually hurt the sharer.
– But a Translucency exists between those two extremes.
And you know how random synergy seems to pulse through the writing community? [Eerie that…] Parallel conversations on complimentary topics cropped up. Things like a Twitter convo about how much is too much to share regarding rejections. And, in another synergistic moment, Oversharing was the focus of the loverly Fizzy’s post from earlier this week. And scroll back to @millercallihan’s Twitter feed from Wednesday to see her thoughts & advice.
If this isn’t apparent yet, in every facet of my life, I burn white-hot: creative ventures, work, relationships, emotions, humor, opinions, writing. Passion sears through me and ignites everything and everyone within warming distance. Rarely does any of that go up in flames. Instead, my life glows with heat, and adventure, and love, and surprise, and beautifully insane randomocity.
I have no doubt that some believe I burn too hot at times.
But some things remain opaque. There are things I absolutely know NOT to share. Specifics and stats you will never, ever know. These are the sacred things, the things which are nobody’s business but my own, things which—by sharing—would be of no help to anyone else. These things, while they may still blaze and spit flames, remain safely caged behind the fireplace screen and out of the public eye.
I’m curious what you all think. Some things are an enigma to me. Like how querying writers, as a rule, shouldn’t publicly share stats on rejections, but as soon as that writer is repped, those stats are almost a requirement in the announcement post. I suppose it’s okay to share that once-taboo detail once you’ve crossed into the promised land?
So, how hot is too hot?
What are the things best left opaque?
What are some translucent areas you feel are left up to circumstance & personality?
Are there times when you’re actually scared to Tweet or post something, out of fear that it might sour an industry pro’s view of you or your work?
At what point does a writer/author’s transparency cross from Inferno into Melt Your face Off with Cringe?
FTR, I don’t have a problem with sharing rejection info—to a point. I’ve posted a few pie charts detailing the different yeses and nos in my querying process. But I chose to share percentages, not numbers. Another off-limits for me is naming specific agents or agencies. Super blasphemous. As is submissions & rejections to publishers once over on the other side of the river in the promised land. For what my opinion’s worth. 😉