Friday, October 19, 2007

Gee,Thanks: How a Writer Pays Debts

Authors thank their editors, friends, teachers, patrons and so forth on a page in the front of their books. When my turn came it was like a big hairy math problem:
1. Thanking everyone would have been a book in itself.
2. Many people helped me and all of it was important, so I couldn't list only a few select people.
3. Those unlikely to see the book must still be acknowledged.
4. One wants to give sincere thanks regarding that particular book, not favor other writers who used one's name in THEIR acknowledgements.
5. Using famous names looks like fawning.
6. There's a temptation to get even by making grossly obvious omissions.
7. There's a besetting "f--- you" fantasy: listing idiots, enemies, and thwarters, and concluding with "No thanks to you." There's a reason why that must stay a fantasy.
8. Thanks are due, and one can't withhold acknowledgments just because the whole issue is touchy.
9. How does one order the selected names? Alphabetically? Most-to-least? Least-to-most (leaving the best for last)? (Then how do I set it up so no one can decode this?)
Just another barbed-wire fence in this artificially difficult profession!
Final count: 23 names, 1 group name (covers 7 people) = 30 people, listed in the chronological order that I met them.
That number, for a book of prose, is about average.

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