Never Say Sorry For Being Nice

Have I told you about writers?

Needly, anxious, insecure, badly paid, desperate to be informed that they’re wonderful – writers make actors look almost normal, and I say this as someone who has spent far too much time in contact with both.

Alone at their keyboards, writers spend a significant amount of their time pining for the moment someone will turn round and exclaim ‘yes, you are THE BEST and I LOVE your books’ and when it happens they’ll turn bright red and mumble something about how you’re too kind and it’ll be catastrophically awkward and everyone will be sorta like, ‘and uh, so, isn’t the weather grey?’

“Uh, so uh, um….” mumbles the writer desperately.  “It’s uh… yeah.”

And at this point, you, the incredibly kind human who’s just said something to a writer, might apologise.

Because the writer looks awkward.

And you’re a fan.

And it’s all gone a bit weird.

But guys… let it not be a big secret that you have just personally made that writer’s day.  Even if they look like they want to vanish into the pits of the earth, when you said something nice to whichever wandering scribbler it was, you were a shining knight in armour.  Their heart soared, their fingers tingled, light came into their souls and minds.  You did a noble deed in a wicked world, and in a few kind words gave more joy and gratitude to a scribbler than is probably healthy or wise.

Never, ever, feel like you need to apologise for saying something kind to a writer.

Just ‘cos they’re socially inept doesn’t change the fact that you, with your actual confidence and passion, have lifted up their hearts.

For which, on behalf of most scribblers everywhere who are too awkward to know how to take a compliment properly…. thank you.


  1. I had this experience a few months ago. I was at a convention and got to talk to the guest of honor, and I said, “You must get this all the time, but I love your books!” And I was mortified not to have said anything more original, because I read ten books by this person! I came to this convention primarily to meet her! Surely there’s something I can talk about! But she said, “I don’t think writers ever get tired of hearing that.” So I felt better about it afterwards.

  2. You’re very welcome. An even more obvious way us fans have of showing we love a writer’s books is to turn up at a signing with a whole library of their books, which can cause some awkwardness when there’s a queue of people who’ve just picked up a copy from the stack by the table…
    I turned up at a Sir Terry Pratchett signing with a rucksack full of books, however I did wait until the end before pulling them all out of the bag.
    Sir Terry’s shoulders visibly slumped, but he was very gracious and signed them all, the few paperbacks he just signed, the rest he personalised.
    It’s the same with asking a musician to sign a CD, or possibly several, or maybe a setlist, unlike ebooks or downloads, books and CD’s or vinyl are physical, tangible evidence that one loves what the artist/writer does, and asking for the item to be personalised is even better evidence that the item is unlikely to appear a few days later on eBay, as was caustically mentioned by Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, but bless her she still signed my CD’s.
    And every book and recording I own that’s been signed I still possess, and always will, they’re precious things, and are the best way I know of showing how much I appreciate the effort that’s gone into creating those works, by turning up with copies I’ve bought and read, or listened to, and fallen in love with.
    And I definitely include all of your published works, Cat, although the more recent ones aren’t yet signed… ;^)

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