I am very disappointed. Very disappointed indeed. I have asked, entreated, begged – even pleaded – for people to edit my entry on Wikipedia. But no-one has obliged. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Ashamed.
Why am I so exercised by this? The fun of ego-surfing aside, I do find such uninvited bibliographic concoctions somewhat impertinent. I’m with the composer Sorabji, who, in spite of his many idiosyncrasies, had a healthy disrespect for those he called, with some disdain, ‘lexicographical persons’. Call me idiosyncratic, or even eccentric (I dare you), but it’s partly why I am increasingly prone, when interviewed, to send up the entire exercise. At the moment, of course, I’ll do this only with friends who can be counted on to see the joke. And who would, in any case, be expecting it. For my friends who want me to be serious and sincere, well, I can do that, too. Anyone else, though, I regard as fair game. And what irks me most about such things as Wikipedia is that they didn’t even ask me for an interview. It’s as if I was as good as dead.
I hadn’t really thought much about this until I was talking with fantasy author Steph Swainston at Constitution the other day. Steph, who is very much alive (and who I hope won’t mind me saying this), criticized the habit in literary criticism in which commentators make statements about what they suppose to be the motivation of authors. It’s bad enough if you’re dead and can’t answer back – but much, much worse if you happen to be still living. Steph had learned of a student who was doing a dissertation on her books, and although, one presumes, was diligently beavering away at Steph’s novels, hadn’t even the wit (or courtesy) to pick up the phone and ask Steph herself what she thought of her own motivations. I suppose that had this student done so, any and all theoretical constructs about authorial motivation would have shrunk to nothing, like overcooked spinach.
So, please, for the sake of authorial amour propre, if nothing else, please do edit my Wikipedia entry. Be as creative and outrageous as you like. I won’t sue you, I promise. You can supply a nice picture, for a start. If you’re stuck for any, and can supply many pleasing shots of guinea pigs.