I took inspiration from Brandon Sanderson this past week, so it’s appropriate for me to say that I’m serious – Brandon Sanderson is a Gentleman. No, not a fan of his books although many people are. He’s another author in the game that I try to learn from, and this week he taught me a lesson in authentic integrity. Here’s what happened:
Wired did a profile on Sanderson and his success which, let’s face it, was less than flattering. Subsequent news outlets and online resources (looking at you, Reddit) lined up to drag the author of that piece. Sanderson himself weighed in on the controversy and provided a masterclass in ‘rising above it all.’ Bravo, Brandon Sanderson.
In a world where people rush to judgement and hot takes age like milk, Sanderson is smart enough to to know that he should respond, rather than react. No ‘speaking out,’ no ‘clapping back.’ He took a breath and thought about what it all really means before opening his mouth. It’s the author equivalent of that old hockey strategy to slow down when you’re facing a number of fast players. Let them ‘skate’ past you, leaving the goal undefended. Nice job.
Like Brandon Sanderson, I’m just a guy trying to understand the world through story. Writing helps me process trauma, anxiety, and stress. So it’s a weird double-edged sword to do something that helps you feel better while forcing you to engage with potentially-toxic people, making you feel worse. I don’t have an answer for how it all works yet, but I’ve learned a few things. The moment I have it all figured out, I’ll be certain to tell you.
To recap – when you feel ‘called out’ or ‘dragged’ for your work, take a moment to step back and breathe. Think about the entire picture. Respond, don’t react. If you can do that, you’re about 90% of the way toward authentic integrity – that’s what gentlemen (gentleperson) authors like Brandon Sanderson already know.