Old pictures, part 2: a science fiction writer in the making

I wasn’t always a science fiction writer, even if I wanted to be. In going through and digitizing some old photos yesterday (some of which I have already posted), I found a bunch of pictures of me and the family when I was much younger. Some of these are pretty goofy photos and I thought it might make for an amusing Sunday morning or early afternoon (depending on where you are) to post a few of these. You might even decide to compare them to my author photo so you can get a complete, er, picture of the evolution of this particular writer.

I’ll start with an early one, in which the pre-science fiction-writing Jamie Todd Rubin gleefully attacks a large panda bear. (And this would explain that urge I had to play with the Pandas the last time I was at the National Zoo):

Me and my pal at around 1 year old

For whatever reason, it is important for writers–and this includes science fiction writers–to have a good photo. This photo is often used in publicity, on websites, or on the jacket to your latest best-selling novel. Here is an early attempt at an author’s photo that is, admittedly, a bit dated now:

Me, looking rather '70s

Writers have egos. If you’ve lived with a writer for any amount of time you know this. Part of this stems from the nature of writing–it is a very lonely business, sure–but you are creating something that you think is good enough for other people to read and enjoy. I suppose this is true of any art form. But if you’ve been to a science fiction convention, you know that there are some writers who just seem to have to take center-stage all the time. You can see a little bit of this in the photo that follows. It was supposed to be a cute picture of my younger brother, Doug, in all of his toddler adorableness. But as you can see, I couldn’t resist sticking my head into the shot and getting what attention I could:

Me and Doug

Despite writing being a lonely business, no writer is really ever alone. They have other writers to talk to, friends, spouses, children. And of course, they have a family in which they group up. Here is my family. This picture, taken in 1975 I believe was part of a big misunderstanding. As it was explained to me, it was supposed to be a publicity shot for an appearance I was to make on Dick Cavet to promote a novel I would be writing 40 years later. At least, that’s what my parents told me. Turns out it was a ruse to get me to sit still for a family photo. (And in case there is any confusion, I am not the one with the mustache):

The family in 1975

Finally, some pictures absolutely require a story to go along with them. This next one, humiliating as it is, is one such photo. This was a school photo. I’m not sure if it was from Kindergarten or first grade. Apparently, I would smile with my mouth closed back then and for reasons known only to Satan, that was not acceptable to a elementary school photographer. I clearly remember him saying to me, “Show your teeth when you smile.” So I showed some teeth.

Now, I feel like I followed his instructions to the best of my ability at the time. Why on Earth he decided to take this particular shot of me I will never know, but all I can say is that it was done in a mean-spirited way, probably by an underpaid fellow who’d spent the entire week having to deal with a bunch of whiny kids and decided to take out his frustrations on me. And if you think this is a big lead-up to a photo, well, then see for yourself:

There's a story behind this goofy look... honest!

Is that the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen? Am I wrong?

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.