Staking Vampires–no, not literally!


Let’s talk vampires. Not the undead creatures of the night, neither the sexy version so popular now nor the hideous Nosferatu of a hundred years or so ago. I’m talking about energy vampires, those people who drain your energy and creativity till you droop and swoon like a Victorian maiden who’s recently entertained Count Dracula at a midnight soiree.

Who is an energy vampire? It’s the person who drains you, makes you feel useless or worthless or not-good-enough. If you’re a writer and you get a good review, the vampire will have gotten a better one. If you got a bad review, the vampire will have gotten a worse one. If you just finished a short story, she finished a novel. If you signed a contract with a small publisher, she signed one with a major New York house.

Or maybe he makes you doubt yourself. He reads your story and hands it back to you with a limp, “That’s nice.” Perhaps he asks what you’re writing and, when you say, “Romance,” or “Horror,” or “Mysteries,” he blinks a few times and then murmurs, “Oh, I write real literature.”

Or perhaps she’s one of those human-shaped walking black clouds. She never sees the good around her because it’s always raining where she is. She spreads negative energy wherever she goes.

We all know these vampires. (And, yes, everyone has moments or even long stretches of time when everything we touch goes wrong. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I am talking about people who engage in this kind of behavior, often without realizing it, their whole lives.) So what do we do?

First of all, don’t even think about wooden stakes. That way lies a charge of homicide.

I’ve read articles urging people afflicted with vampires to love them and try to show them a better way. That might work. Sometimes.

My own preferred tactic is to go into non-engagement mode. Stay civil. Be polite. And don’t get into their drama. They thrive on drama and want you tangled all up in it. If you stay out of it long enough, they’ll take their fangs out of your neck and go bother someone else. Or maybe they’ll learn a less negative way to deal with their own issues. Either way, you’ll be in the clear.

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