It’s been an interesting experience so far, I will give it that much. I am talking about, what else, the release of my third novel just this past week. It has taken up much of my time, and so far the pay off has been not nearly as dramatic as I would like to have believed. What it has shown me is that everyone has an opinion. My inbox has been filled with people who all think they know better how I should do things. One thing about opinions has certainly been proved correct with this experience and that is that, like butt-holes, everyone has one and usually they stink.
It turns out the world is heavily populated with “Comic Book Guys” from the television shows “The Simpsons.” Guys and gals who like to sit around and criticize the way everyone else does something because they somehow believe they know better. Why do they know better? Well, they have a newsletter or own a bookstore.
Another phrase has come to mind over the past few days and I am putting myself squarely in the middle of it. I do this too. I admit it and, at the very least, I am able to admit it. Those who can’t, teach and those who really REALLY can’t, criticize.
Now, of course, I sit here day after day and do the same thing on this and other blogs I write. I write opinion columns about sports times for other online magazines. I write about restaurants and businesses and get my opinion. I get paid to do that. So, as I said, I am including myself into those who really cant they criticize.
Still, I have been told twice that my press release was all wrong. They say I have no credibility to write about my own book and say anything positive about it. Of course you say that, they say, you wrote the book. Of course you like the book.
That’s not actually the truth. I wrote the book in 2003. I then read and re-wrote the book. I then read it again and did yet an other re-write. I kind of despised the book. If I never had to talk about these characters ever again I would have been happy. I then had to write, re-write, and re-re-write a synopsis of the damn story to send out to publishers and agents. I got the book published by an eBook publisher and it has been sitting on that website for three years. I figured that was the best I was ever going to do with the damn thing. I never had any intention of touching the book “Dust” ever again.
Then I looked around and discovered I had been working for eight years in Human Resources. I also discovered I pretty much hated working in human resources. There’s nothing like sitting on a gray cubicle working for a soulless company and listening to employees complain and bitch and moan about their benefits to make you either want to take up writing again or drive push-pins through your eyelids. I chose to try writing again because it was the one thing I had done my entire life with some success and always enjoyed.
I started by writing blogs. That turned into writing opinion and humor columns. Then I was writing restaurant reviews. Then I was writing sports columns. Then general interest articles about businesses and events in my area came next. I wrote website content where I had to use and repeat key words over and over again like “luggage.” I wrote a few of those and got a check for $200 and that was nice. Then I pulled out a short story I had written a while back and couldn’t find a publisher for and decided to send it to an online magazine. Lo and behold the magazine liked it and published it (www.thuglit.com). Then I found the website Lulu.com to help me publish my books and I pulled out the manuscript for “Dust” and now, here we are.
For three years that book sat untouched by me. Then I pulled it out again a few weeks ago and re-read it. You know what? After three years separating when I wrote it to when I was looking at it again I discovered I no longer had such an attachment to the story and the characters. Yet, when I read it I discovered I liked the story and it was a pretty good read. It was better than I had remembered.
What gives these people the right to criticize? Because they can publish a newsletter? All that shows is that you can put together a bunch of opinion and have either access to a Kinko’s and a roll of stamps or you know how to type in e-mail addresses and hit “send.” Obviously the people who publish “Time” and “Newsweek” and “TV Guide” need to take lessons from you because you are such and original publishing genius. Let us all bow before you.
Is it because you own a bookstore? All this shows me is that you know how to convince a bank to give you a small business loan then find a place to put your store. You can then fill them with bookshelves and then (HOLY COW!) put BOOKS on the shelves! Books! In a book store! What originality. What a retailing genius you are! I obviously should bow and scrape and grovel before your awesomeness. Little did I know I was in the presence of a Montgomery Ward, Marshall Field, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc or those guys who started Starbucks or Domino’s Pizza.
One guy didn’t like me using the term “self-published.” As if to be so I need to have a printing press in my closet and then bind all of my books and send them out myself.
The thing about this is that NONE of the criticism is remotely constructive. It’s negative, negative, negative and then some sort of half-assed, half-realized completely unrealistic tip that they feel will bring you success. You know, because they are such successful geniuses themselves. See, all they tell you is what THEY feel you did wrong. Of course, they are so bitter and angry themselves that nothing you can do will possibly be the right thing so it’s a completely losing battle. They just have some tiny bit of power and have carved out some ridiculous bubble of their own that they can lord over and this gives them some kind of power trip. OK, how about some actual, practical tips about how to do things better, oh lord and master of the publishing world.
The biggest tip I find is that I need to get another published author to write a blurb about my book. OK, like I hang around with other authors at the author’s club on Friday night. If I knew any published authors wouldn’t you think I would ask them? Wouldn’t I be asking them for their agent’s contact information or begging them to put me in touch with their editors and publishers? Isn’t the fact I am going to a print-on-demand place called Lulu.com enough evidence that I am all by myself here and don’t know any other writers?
Of course, you can pay a writer about three hundred bucks to write you some stupid review for you. I had no idea that this was the real place to make money. So, if you are some other lower-rung writer who has managed to get published by some publisher you can start whoring yourself out to other struggling writers. I am going to have my first non-fiction book published by a non-vanity publisher next year. I guess this means I finally get a key to the executive restroom and I can start offering my services to the highest bidder as well.
So, here’s the deal about my book. You ready? See, I am a cynic. I believe that the thin tissue of normalcy that the world puts up in front of their face is at thin as tissue paper. What we really are is a bunch of violent, vicious, selfish creatures who like to pretend we are move evolved than we are. So, I think that in a small community, such as a small town, if it were discovered that a horrible crime had been committed, repeatedly in the presence of what that town considered normal it would start to shred that tissue. If it were then found out that others in the community knew about the crimes and covered it up then the rest of the tissue would fall apart. The ugly mess would be revealed and the town would descend into chaos.
That is the pretentious, artsy-fartsy stuff in my novel “Dust.” None of that matters. It’s a good story. It has a lot of action. It has a serial killer. Two houses explode. There are cops and Feds and helicopters and gun fights. Bullets fly. The body count is substantial. Stuff ‘splodes. It’s a story that hits the ground running with the discovery of the bones of children and doesn’t stop until the town is burning. If you like action and suspense and criminals who get their comeuppance then this is the book for you. Check it out at my website.
And my advice for you writers and artists out there? Don’t listen to the pretentious idiots who have deemed themselves superior to you because they want to wave their smelly butt-hole in your face. You write what you want to write. You paint what you want to paint. You sing when you want to sing. You create what you want to create and don’t let anyone tell you what they think you should be doing. In the end they don’t know. It may feel like you are standing in the desert screaming until your voice is hoarse. However, if the conditions and the wind are just right, someone may hear an echo and that will be enough.
One of the biggest crimes to the literary world to me is that no one has yet offered a publishing deal to my friend Jessica. You can read her blog at http://daughterofopinion.blogspot.com. The way she can tell a story, punch you in the gut, make you want to cry and then make you laugh it unbelievable. Her blog articles are some of the most gut-wrenching and powerfully-written things I have read in decades. God help all of us if she does get a publishing deal and decides to write fiction. She’s what the rest of us will some day aspire to. The fact that I knew her for years without knowing she had this much talent is a testament to how straight this woman has her priorities. I wish I had just one tenth of her talent.
Since she has yet to be offered millions to publish her stories shows you how sad the publishing world is. It’s a world full of “Comic Book Guys.” It’s a world full of people who want to feel superior over you. It’s a world of smelly butt-holes waved in your face while they tell you it’s for your own good and that what they are doing isn’t rude. Sure, and if I stab your mother, I can just apologize and say it isn’t murder because I was just trying to see how sharp the knife was.
Some of you probably don’t like what I’m saying. You probably feel I am using the wrong words. You probably don’t like my use of the world “butt-hole.” Some of you might feel compelled to tell me how you feel. Don’t. The fact is, I don’t care.