I just read through some accumulated emails that go to my public account, and quite a few said some variant of "I will no longer read your books if you don't answer my email." Some said it nicely (thank you, sweeties). Some were, frankly my darlings, quite rude. Like, shockingly rude and demanding.
A few years ago, I had a choice. I could 1. answer all my emails or 2. write more books. I chose books. I know that disappoints you and I'm sorry. I don't like disappointing people. But it is not appropriate to threaten and bully people into getting what you want. I generally ignore negative emails. I rarely am able to respond to any emails, negative or otherwise. But there were enough of these type of emails I thought the issue warranted an explanation in a blog post.
I am not accessible. I cannot be your penpal. I cannot be your writing mentor. Email and twitter and blogs and Facebook and tumblr do not paint an accurate portrait of life. I am not sitting on my computer all day, available to communicate with you. I am cleaning the house and reading to my kids and physically pulling my twins apart so they don't scratch out each other's eyeballs and throwing something together for dinner and shoveling the clutter into the corners and paying bills and putting away the groceries and doing my taxes and helping my kids with their homework and running over to see a neighbor and cleaning up a spill and taking my kids to the doctor and sweeping up broken glass and washing the sheets and putting all the books my kids pulled off the shelves back on and tweezing out slivers and putting on bandaids and generally doing what a mother with four young children does. A few hours each weekday I get to write books. And a few times a day I can briefly check twitter, etc., and my email, though I always have far more than I can read right then let alone answer so they pile up. I am not wealthy. I do not have a personal assistant. I do not have a housekeeper or full time nanny or personal shopper or whatever rich people have. I am a working mother. I don't expect my younger readers to understand completely what that means, but please believe me when I tell you part of what it means is that there are so so so many things I would like to do that I simply cannot, and answering your email is one of those. You are not the only one writing to me. I either have to answer everyone or no one. If answering the emails and editing the stories and responding personally to the questions of every one of my readers is the price of having readers then I give up. I can't do it. I can only do two things. I choose: 1. be a mom/wife, and 2. write books. I can't be everything else that you want me to be. All I can do is be the author of some books that you might like, and if reading those books isn't enough for you, then I'm not your girl.
If you hear an edge to my voice, please believe it is not anger or offense. It is simply overwelmedness. I am overwhelmed. To be fair, I do state right there on my website above my email address that I won't be able to respond. A simpler solution would be to shut down my public account permanently. But I keep it because sometimes I get the most delicious emails, like the ones I've been getting from parents of kids who read Ever After High and said, "They never read a book before but they read this one straight through!" What joy! I get to forward those on to my editors and others who share in that joy and know that our hard work is finding a home. So I don't want to shut it down.
Maybe instead what I need to shut down is all this darn caring. I do care if I offend people. If I disappoint people. If they feel a connection to me through my books and feel personally betrayed by me that I can't complete that connection. I wish I could not care what people think. But if I didn't, maybe I wouldn't have the sensitivity to be a writer? To channel characters and care, too, what they think and feel? I don't know the answer.
Except this. I cannot change my email and fan interaction policy. And I cannot stop writing. So we are at an impasse, my darlings. I hope you have real people in your real lives who can hear your thoughts, be your friends, support and comfort you, read your marvelous words, and love you. Go to them. I'll be over here, out of sight, pulling out splinters and shoveling legos, silently cheering you on.