January 11th, 2007


Back Scratch Fever

A lot of people have requested a copy of my story "Toad Lily" for Stoker consideration this year, more than usually request my work, which is gratifying. It makes me feel like I'm making headway in my quest to stop being the perpetual Preliminary Ballot bridesmaid and maybe, just maybe, step up to the Final Ballot altar. A man can dream.

But I'm finding it also comes hand in hand with something else, something I'm liking quite a bit less. Roughly half the people who ask for a copy of the story write me back, saying:

"Wow, I loved it! I'm recommending it for a Stoker!"

Which is great and gratifying and humbling, until I read the next sentence:

"Any chance I can get you to look at my story/novel/etc before the deadline?"

Sigh. I don't want to be a dick to anyone, and really there's nothing wrong with asking for what you want, but it all feels rather unseemly to me. It's off-putting. It feels like they're saying they scratched my back by recommending my story and now it's my turn to scratch theirs. It makes me wonder if they really did like "Toad Lily" or if they're just saying that to get me to recommend their own stuff in some kind of weird favor-swap. But worst of all, it makes me feel guilty if I even consider saying no. It's enough to tempt me into passive-aggression and pretend I didn't get their emails!

I can't be the only one this is happening to. How do the rest of you HWA folks deal with it?