I have six shirts with this message or a message similar to this:
They were given to me as gifts by friends and relatives over the past few years, and while I have appreciated the sentiment each and every time, I have discovered that there is virtually no opportunity to ever where this shirt.
If you’re working on a novel or in the process of finding an agent or selling it to a publisher, a shirt like this seems presumptuous and hardly threatening. Everyone seems to have a friend who is working on a novel, but very few have a friend who will ultimately publish or even finish the book. Wearing a shirt like this prior to publication serves only to lump you in with everyone else’s brother-in-law, second cousin or coworker who has been scribbling away at his or her masterpiece for years.
Once you’ve managed to publish your first novel, the shirt suddenly appears self-congratulatory. It might as well say, “Hey! I wrote and published a novel! Fear and love me!”
A shirt like this also risks demeaning the craft by implying that a novelist would risk the integrity of the story in order to enact a form of literary revenge.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s done quite often, and I have done it myself, but that doesn’t mean an author wants to publicize this fact on a tee-shirt.
See what I mean?
There is no right time to wear the shirt. You’re either not accomplished enough to wear the thing or too accomplished to stoop so low as to brag about your accomplishments.
So I stare at my pile of shirts and wonder what to do.