Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 14 September 2012

Let's Agree to Disagree

I love it when people say, ‘as you say...’ when what they mean is ‘as I wildly misinterpret your words to mean so that they fit in with my diametrically opposed view’.

I have a sort of weird secondhand standing. I don’t know how it happened, but, because of the husband, and because I work fairly closely with him, I have had some exposure to his fanbase, and some of his followers have come to know me a little bit.

I’m not a public entity. I haven’t done enough work to be known in my own right, but I have been adopted, co-opted and even conscripted into a sort of merry little band. I like it there. 

These people are positively lovely. They are from all genders, ages, backgrounds and races, although, to be fair, there are more white guys between twenty and thirty than anything else. There are people who share my views and those who openly don’t. There are those with whom I laugh and cry and debate, and those with whom I nod and frown and debate. Some I have a cup of tea with and some a glass of wine.

There is a close-knit core, but there is also a broader base, and there are one or two people, on the periphery, who are the oddest creatures on the planet. They are like people everywhere. They are like acquaintances I have met in all sorts of other arenas, in school and at university, and in work and social situations. They are very particular.

There is a subset of people who assume that they are right about everything and that anyone they admire or like for whatever reason must, perforce, agree with everything they say. They also tend to have an insecurity switch, and, as a consequence, they will repeat back almost anything that is said to them, reinterpreting it to cover or include their own experiences or opinions.

Some of these people, for whatever reasons, want to be in my gang, or rather, they want to be associated with the husband and they see me as their path to success in that endeavour, which, frankly, I’m not, nor shall I ever be. They want to be validated as human beings, apparently by someone close to the husband.

If you are one of these people it is worth bearing the following in mind:

I don’t have a gang. I have no greater value than anyone else, and me offering you any sort of validation is more-or-less meaningless in a World where I have zero power to affect your social or professional standing.

The best you will ever get from me in this situation is my tolerance, and that’s benign enough, but it isn’t what you want. Do battle with me and persuade me of your argument, and if you can’t change my mind, at least persuade me that your argument is a valid one, and you will have my respect and acceptance. I don’t have to agree with everything you say to like you. You don’t have to agree with everything I say, or give the appearance that you agree with everything I say for me to like you. Don’t think I don’t know my own mind, and don’t think I don’t know when you’re misrepresenting me, especially if you’re doing it back to me.

In some instances, you might simply be the person who wants to believe that I think the way you think... that every right-minded individual must think the way that you think and that any other viewpoint is impossible. Well... OK then.

If, on the other hand, you’re the person that pulled the switch on me, willfully misunderstood me and then demonstrated your lack of understanding then I’m terribly sorry, but I don’t think we’re ever going to see eye to eye. Pity really, because in other circumstances, who knows, we might have been buddies. 


  1. OMG! You're so right Aunty Nik, it's just like I was saying to Dave down the pub at night, all these immigrants should just be shot. It's so good to meet someone online who isn't afraid to share my views.....

    *ahem* sorry, couldn't help myself. Reading this made me think about my position. Obviously I am a huge fan of Dans work, and I also harbor ambitions of authordom (one day!) but I am quite certain that neither of these things influences in any way my interactions with you, nor my following of your blog or agreement with your opinions. As it goes, I am sure there are plenty of things on which we would disagree if we were to really get into it, but the very reason why I have come to like you as much as I do is that I know, from what little interaction we do have, that even were we to find such things, however minor or major they may be, we will be happy to agree to disagree and move on.

    1. It's a little bit funny, because I almost wanted to write a list of people that I totally WASN'T referring to when writing this post, because I really didn't want to offend anyone that might be a little insecure or unnecessarily humble, modest or otherwise vulnerable - They're all just too lovely!.

      Problem is, the people I am talking about stand zero chance of recognising themselves. Bless them!

    2. I totally got that it wasn't directed at me, but I know what you mean. It never ceases to amaze me just how self involved people can be. As a people watcher and not a totally shabby minor psychologist (at least to A level standard) I can totally understand that natural human impulse to believe that one is right, and that therefore all right thinking people must agree with one, but the sheer power of that impulse in action can sometimes be mind blowing, as people persist in believing that their belief, which is self evidently to the contrary of most of the rest of the world, is somehow right and everyone else is too stupid to notice. Combine that with the rise of the Internet and the assumption that just because someone has spared five minutes to reply to your comment on a forum/blog/Facebook then they are clearly your new best friends and it just gets scary.

      To me, it's like the sainsburys story you told me at GD last year, only happening hundreds of times a day via the web. No less scary and invasive, and a little troubling....

  2. For some people, the cool gritty feeling of sand encapsulating their noggin is as natural as the kiss of air. It cant be helped.

    Oh and a heads up, public entity or no I am getting your autograph at the Black Library Weekender. I bought a book specifically with that purpose in mind - the 'Thunder & Steel' anthology because it has one of your delightful Gilead stories contained within.

    And for theatrics I may blatantly ignore any other author around at the time. Just for a giggle.

    Because I have never done a convention before. Ever. I have no idea the protocols of it all, the social conventions. I just have my personal laws I put in place to govern how I behave around 'normies'. Be pleasant, be thick skinned, smile and damn well enjoy yourself.

    So I have two goals. One, get the majority of my Horus Heresy stories signed. Two, get the illusive Nik Vincents signature.

    Oh yes, and have a damn decent time across the pond. All the best events come about from labours of love, and it is clear Gemma is putting her all into the Canada Expo.

  3. wow, and well said. strangely enough this is something I've had to wrestle with recently myself (assuming I'm interpreting this correctly). for some reason people like to tell me what my opinion is, as if I'm not capable of doing so myself (i.e. they must be blind, or blinded by something ...)

    I tried labelling my various offerings so as to distinguish between observations, recollections, facts, opinions, etc. only to be mocked for making the effort, not only to avoid being misunderstood, but also so people don't spazz out (technical term) at me for something I never said to start with. in the end I've decided it's probably easier just not to venture my opinion in that forum in future. which is a shame, because without blowing my own horn, I know that a fair amount of my friends respect and appreciate my input and now they're going to have to go without.

    I guess what it comes down to for me is respect. I am not less human than the next guy, and I'd like a bit of respect, or at least not to be barked at unless I deserve it (and there are definitely instances, being human after all, when I do deserve it).

    as for me, I'm here because I respect you independently from your husband (although I do congratulate you both on great taste/choice in partner) and it kinda saddens me to think that people might be using you as the proverbial springboard into Dan's good graces. at the same time though, there is that little fear inside that one day when I meet Dan at a book signing (with you nearby) he's going to say something like "oh ... THAT Chris." and give you a knowing look, at which point I will probably drop dead or shrivel away into nothing.

    it doesn't get the best of me though, because I'd like to think I'm a good judge of character and I think you're both lovely! ;D

  4. Excellent post. Again. Please, stop being so good at this. The main reason I follow you now - aside from the excellent writing - is because you took the time to pose with my daughter and Dan. You made my daughter exceedingly happy, which made me happy. So I did a bit of proper digging and I started to read your tweets and your blog.

    Plus, you're great to talk to, you always have a smile for people - so far you haven't clawed anyone's face off publicly, even though you plainly have it within you - you remember people's name and you're nice.

    For someone to think that sucking up to you, will mean that - rather like touching a chimney sweep - they will then find themselves part of Dan's inner sanctum and somehow then either gain boasting rights, or a book deal, is more than a bit sad. It's actually rather pathetic as they should validate themselves not by who they know, but by what they've done. Or am I just being naive?