Afterward, I had to leave the room directly after him because I had to teach a student singing. At this point, I said:
"Good morning. Great talk! You edited a book I was published in."
"Oh yes. Which was that?"
"Fishing for Birds."
"I now write fantasy. I have four books published. Thank you for all you did with Fishing for Birds back when I was sixteen."
"Oh, yes. Ah, what's your name?"
I told him, and then we parted ways, I to teach singing and he probably to go home and write. He is in his seventies now, I believe, and is largely retired from the daily grind of full-time work and more freed up to write than most of us will be for a while.
While the conversation above may look mundane, it was actually perhaps one of the nicest meetings I've had with a fellow author. Normally authors are a bit like lone wolves. And they can get extremely passive aggressive if your path happens to cross theirs. I have had meetings with authors before in which authors thirty years my senior have made it very clear they don't like me. I wouldn't blame them. I wouldn't like a twenty-four year old author much either, if I were them.
But the fact of the matter is, we all write. We all struggle to earn something from it. We have all fought to get our ideas and voices heard. This should make us comrades rather than enemies.
I guess the truth of the matter is, authors are nicest to each other over the internet. In real life, we're not always that interested in interacting. After all, we're authors - not socialites.
It was great to have a brief interaction with James Norcliffe. I hope I'll still be writing in my seventies. It's easy to get disillusioned if you start young. Most people think it's brilliant to start young and get published at twenty-two. And to some extent, it is. But there's also the reality that you begin with the high hopes of the young and discover the grim reality of writing and publishing a bit sooner than you might have otherwise. Additionally, those who start older are probably more cynical already. They don't expect to get much recognition for it. For them, it is about being able to speak and express themselves. After forty or fifty years on this earth, they see the wisdom of that and understand that it is an achievement in itself.
Sometimes I diminish that achievement. At my age, everyone will tell you it's about getting money and making a life for yourself. Writing doesn't do that. But it does enable you to create, reflecting the image of our Creator. It enables you to express eternal realities, truths that will stand the test of time, whether others hear about them from you or someone else. It enables you to speak. And that is powerful in itself.