So, as you probably noticed by now, we all went to Comic Con last weekend. While there, our booth was right down the aisle from several of the cast members of Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. Specifically the characters Harmony, Clem, Cordy, Drusilla, and Spike. I resisted as long as I could, but soon found myself standing in line to pay $30-$40 each for a set of their autographs.
Don’t judge me.
Anyway, here’s my point. I walked away from that aisle with five signatures, and five completely different impressions of these people. For example, Cordy (Charisma Carpenter) was very nice, and sweet, and she smiled at me politely, but I really got the feeling she couldn’t wait for me to be gone. Spike (James Marsters) on the other hand, seemed to connect with everyone he talked to. At three minutes before he was supposed to sit on a panel, he didn’t seem concerned in the least that the woman in front of me didn’t have any money for an autograph and just wanted to shake his hand and talk to him a few minutes. He thanked her like she was the first fan he ever had, and he found something in her words he could use to bond with her. On a related side note, Clem (James Charles Leary) was so cool I could write an entire essay on him, but I’ll save that for another day.
So how does this relate to you? Well, most likely you are a writer of some sort. Whether you just blog, have an unhealthy twitter addiction, write short stories for magazines, self-publish, or have a best-selling novel out there, someday you will meet at least one fan face-to-face. They may be someone you went to high school with, or someone who flew across the country to stand in line and shake your hand. Either way, a chance encounter for you will be a Significant Emotional Event for them, and they will remember the nuances of that moment for a long time. Treat them like the gold they are. You touched them in some way, and your words affected them enough that they think a few seconds with you or an autograph has real worth. When you find yourself in that moment, do your best to prove them right.