Bewildering Stories

Steven Utley writes about his Detractors

Editor’s note: Bewildering Stories interviewed Steven Utley in issue 101 and issue 102. Mr. Utley’s letter on “Fame and Fortune” also appeared in issue 101.

My Detractors

by Steven Utley

After Bewildering Stories’ “two-man editorial triumvirate” had interviewed me and published the resulting blatherfest, a reader wrote in to say: “I enjoyed the interview of Utley a good deal. He’s pretty funny, nowhere near as stuffy as some of his detractors on other boards thought.”

I take this — not that I am “pretty funny” rather than “stuffy,” but that I actually have detractors — as a certain sign that the prize, Fame, which I have so long pursued is at last almost within reach. Once a writer acquires a brace of detractors, he is no longer a mere scrivener, even if he should go on merely scrivening; he is one of literature’s lightning rods, An Author.

Anybody capable of getting published can find someone who dislikes his or her work; dislike is passive and expressible through the simple expedient of avoidance. To have detractors, though, is to have aroused sufficient antipathy in people for them to take a more active course. Detractors will cross the street to make sure the object of their fury does not skip blithely through the day imagining himself to be admired, even loved, by all whose lives he has touched. Detractors will vent their spleens in letters to newspaper editors and telephone calls to talk-radio shows. Detractors will go to the trouble of writing and printing maledictory tracts and handing them out on street corners. Detractors will send down denunciations from the pulpit.

Just the thought of it warms the cockles of my heart.

And, please note, the reader who liked the interview said that only “some” of my detractors find me stuffy. If that is indeed the case (and probably it is, given this reader’s obvious perspicacity), I stand to be entertained in times to come by the spectacle of disputes between those who say I’m stuffy and those who abhor me for other reasons.

My cup is just about full; I have just about Arrived!

Copyright © 2004 by Steven Utley

Return to top

Home Page