Wolf DeVoon

Being punished for writing

22 posts in this topic

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I finally cracked last night. Tears filled my eyes and blurred my vision of the laptop. I gambled everything and lost my wife, bank accounts, credit cards, health, dignity, friends, reputation. I wrote material that no one likes, no one buys. My inbox is empty. The phone never rings.

There's no undoing it. I self-published because I couldn't depend on anyone to preserve my work, can't rely on an old laptop that has screen cancer and a weak battery, don't trust heirs to perceive any value in my legacy. So, the work was uploaded to POD.

My books are overpriced by a wide margin. Nothing to be done about that. Net royalty from selling a book is a few cents. If someone decides to buy a copy, those pennies would flow to a bank account that was closed, overdrawn. Fair's fair. Chase Bank owns whatever pittance my books might earn. I have a dozen titles in print, an honorable term used loosely, because nothing exists except digital text files and crappy cover art.

I don't mind being hated. I don't mind being old and poor. Eventually, I will find a minimum wage job, so  I can eat, buy gasoline, pay insurance. It would be better to sell the car. I don't entirely trust myself to drive at highway speed, although I need to drive an hour to get the dog shaved for the summer, so he doesn't suffer. All winter I trimmed his silky hair with a scissors that became too dull to cut effectively. I need new scissors.

Absolutely do not trust myself with a gun. Hemingway ended his life that way. Fitzgerald and O. Henry were destroyed by alcohol. I'd rather not amplify further punishment for the crime of writing. Poverty is plenty of torture, thanks. I can't afford to buy alcohol or drugs. It's been years since I bought a dead man's shirts and shoes at a resale shop in Houston.

I regret being ugly and disfigured. I used to be handsome, charismatic.

I don't regret my characters, Chris and Peachy (The Case Files of Cable & Blount), Janet and Archie (The Good Walk Alone), or Harry and Laura (Mars Shall Thunder). I don't regret being a dinosaur who sees the world as the dominion of heterosexual men and women who discover romantic love and earn it with passion and courage. I don't regret their patriotism and valor, putting their lives on the line for justice. All of my nonfiction stuff addresses the notion of justice, also, but justice is unsaleable and unwanted in the modern world.

That's why I broke down and wept last night, the first time it came home to me, that my work is unwanted. If it were a matter of incompetence -- awful, klutzy writing that fails to clear the lowest possible literary hurdle -- it wouldn't hurt so deeply. What hurts is being punished for the good, the real and true, the beautiful and thrilling.

The Tar Pit puts the issue as clearly as anyone could, that official police and governments of every description are incapable of doing justice. They always try, always fail. What matters is private actors, private action, private desire and daring and danger and determination. Not a Politically Correct mechanized mob with guaranteed pensions.

No matter what happens, Chris and Peachy were worth it. They love each other.

 

 

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Wolf, Could be said that you're a misfit writing in the post-novel era, but I have it that it is the times which are a misfit for the individual.

I feel a savage sadness that the source of good and great American fiction of the 20C has all but dried up, largely because readers have. I took much and do still, from those writers (probably, a few hundred I came to know) about individualism, struggle for life and tough romanticism in the cities and wide spaces of the USA. Good luck to you.

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Wolf,

I've thought about what to say to this and I haven't come up with much.

Recently, I've done some religious studies and a pattern in the Old Testament (Psalms, Lamentations, etc.) is for a small work to express grief raw. Hope comes in a different work. Grief is left pure.

I see your post like that.

Ironically, yesterday I picked up Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and a couple of lines jumped out at me from the Preface. They reminded me of your post.

Quote

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

And this:

Quote

Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me.

After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.

I don't know if this has value to you, but it's what went through my head.

If you ever stomach it, I hope you learn some online marketing someday because that cures a lot of blues...

Michael

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I read action thrillers, crime dramas, and recently the following. I buy hardbound books because they are the same size they have always been and easier to handle. Then I give the books to the library. 

Stuart Woods Sex Lies and Serious Money.

John Grisham The Whistler.

David Baldacci No Man’s Land.

Lee Child’s Night School.

John Sanford Escape Clause.

Preston and Childs The Obsidian Chamber.

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How about going the Tom Clancy route? From the new action thriller by Wolf Deboone, “End Game for Innocence.”

The cold war had waned, but everyone knew this day was coming. The spread of nuclear weapons technology ensured that at some point a country other than the superpowers would use “the bomb.” The closest, previous nuclear conflict was during tensions between India and Pakistan but as that conflict waned, the eyes of the world turned to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

Now, Iran and especially North Korea, were suspected of planning nuclear attacks. Iran was building its nuclear program to target first Israel and then to hand out bombs to Islamic terrorists to target America, who they called “The Great Satan.” The religious leader of Iran is quoted as saying, “When we have a bomb we will immediately destroy the Jews.”

And North Korea was seeking a place on the world stage to showcase its glorious people’s republic ruled by a madman, Kim Jong Un. As its people starved and lived in poverty North Korea’s glorious leader tried to intimidate its neighbors, South Korea, Japan, and even China into supplying it with food and technology. But then a new sheriff arrived in town: President Donald Trump.

North Korea was busing shooting missiles towards Japan and America, and planning an invasion of South Korea when President Trump sent ships into The Sea of Japan to bolster our defensive capabilities. When the American ships were 200 nautical miles from the border between the North and the South, Kim Jong Un shot a nuclear missile that exploded a few nautical miles from the U.S. Fleet. As the blast wave rocked the ships, a call on the hotline was made to President Trump . . .

This phony book, rated 4 stars by book critics, can be bought at Barnes and Noble in hardback for $21.99 or in a large, easy read paperback for $14.99.  

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7 hours ago, Peter said:

How about going the Tom Clancy route? From the new action thriller by Wolf Deboone, “End Game for Innocence.”

Pretty clear you don't know my work. No reason you should, of course.

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I think your synopsis for your other work contained things I did not care for, which is why I have not bought it. And it seemed a bit juvenile. Sorry. I have bought other books written by people who have been on OL. 3 of them, if we don’t count Ghs from whom I have bought many more.

My Tom Clancy synopsis was spoofing. Yet you are certainly free to utilize my idea for profit. But remember to be successful in the world of action, military, crime, espionage and dramatic realism you cannot express any sentiments that belittle America. So why not write to be successful? Do the millions other “popular” writers make, not inspire you to be successful? You are not being rational if you do not examine the market. Don’t turn your nose up at the authors I read and admire. They live in mansions, have little or no debt, and they have contracts for their next three or so books. What’s not to like? They write page turners and the occasional blockbuster that is turned into a Hollywood movie. Who should star in this? Harrison Ford or  . . .  

Peter    

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Years ago I tried Analog magazine and they never accepted anything I wrote. Too amateur-istic.

Your thread’s title? Being punished for writing? No. you are part of the agora (marketplace) and you failed in writing what people want to read, or more specifically you wrote what interested you . . . but a commercial writer writes what people want to read. Your plea for ”Alms for the poor?” You talk about free enterprise but you do not fathom free enterprise if you write what pleases you, and not what pleases your potential buyers/traders. Beatrice Potter and Lee Child author of the Jack Reacher series write for a genre that is bought by its readers.

If you are willing to sit at a typewriter or computer screen hour after hour to create *art* then profit by it. Read what sells, NOW. Emulate those authors. What have you got to lose?

Peter

So long J. John Warren Geils Jr., the artist known professionally as J. Geils who gave his name to the 1980s rock group he founded, The J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Mass., home Tuesday. He was 71. Groton Chief of Police Donald Palma Jr. confirmed the death, adding in a press release that a preliminary investigation "indicates that Geils died of natural causes." Palma said that because the death was "unattended," it will be investigated but "foul play is not suspected at this time." He said Groton police went to the home around 4 p.m. ET in response to a well-being check and found Geils unresponsive. 

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At the risk of stating the obvious, in the age of the internet bookstores and libraries are on the decline. Information wants to be free. Trying to make a living as a writer is risky.

 

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27 minutes ago, jts said:

At the risk of stating the obvious, in the age of the internet bookstores and libraries are on the decline. Information wants to be free. Trying to make a living as a writer is risky.

 

There is more to a modern library than books, recordings or compact disks.   There are discussion groups,  lectures on various topics.  My local library here in Monroe Township NJ,  has a brief lecture and demo series on three dimensional printing.  The library even has a 3-D  printer!  There are also short courses in various software tools (taught free of charge).  For example  EXCEL, Word  and several publishing tools.

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I recall a long while ago a post here discussing one of your books.  I was intrigued by the premise and excited to support a self-published author from this community... and I said so.  You replied with disdain making it quite clear that you neither required nor desired my enthusiasm.  I never read the book.

Nonetheless, I wish you well.

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1 hour ago, jts said:

Trying to make a living as a writer is risky.

Jerry,

This should be qualified: "Trying to make a living as a writer using old product delivery and marketing ways is risky."

It's easier to make a living as a writer on the Internet than at any time in human history. Not just a little easier. Exponentially easier.

Nowadays, there are few gatekeepers that can effectively prohibit your work from seeing the light of day. In former times, you had to make nice with the gatekeepers, or worse, beg them, kiss their asses, sleep with them, etc. etc. etc. Just plain vanilla networking the old fashioned way was a huge pain in the ass if you were as hungry for success as Rand was. Look at her letters to see how she did it.

btw - Rand was quite the networker in the beginning. Until she became famous, I think she spent more time on networking than on writing. She may have written a book about a genius architect who could brush off his buyers and the gatekeepers and be above it all because some magic spring of interest would sprout all over the country for his work, but she sure as hell didn't do her own career that way--at least not until she acquired a public voice. She pushed and shoved and raised hell when she was ignored.

Don't forget, Rand learned her craft in Hollywood, the home of hawk, hype and hook up, not on Robinson Crusoe's island brooding about the mysteries of life and the unfairness of the universe.

Michael

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1 hour ago, jts said:

At the risk of stating the obvious, in the age of the internet bookstores and libraries are on the decline. Information wants to be free. Trying to make a living as a writer is risky.

 

Fiction is information? Okay, advisedly, in the sense of pre-selected, predigested and rearranged "information". This, in high quality, is what there is a dearth of. The novel art has fallen far behind the mass of information and it shows.

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Fiction is information? Okay, advisedly, in the sense of pre-selected, predigested and rearranged "information". This, in high quality, is what there is a dearth of. The novel art has fallen far behind the mass of information and it shows.

good historical fiction can help one to understand the significance of past events.  Good science fiction can provided some interesting and possibly useful speculations.   Star Trek in 1966 introduced the cell phone (the often times used  "communicator").  

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17 hours ago, Peter said:

why not write to be successful?

Next time I see Howard Roark, I'll ask him that, Peter. But more to the point is that I have no vote to cast except the work I can do.

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15 hours ago, Peter said:

Your plea for ”Alms for the poor?”

Not that I recall. I don't remember asking you for anything.

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6 hours ago, jts said:

Trying to make a living as a writer is risky.

Yup. Hemingway shot himself at age 60, Scott Fitzgerald dead at 48, Melville and Dumas died bankrupt.

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5 hours ago, dldelancey said:

I recall a long while ago a post here discussing one of your books.  I was intrigued by the premise and excited to support a self-published author from this community... and I said so.  You replied with disdain making it quite clear that you neither required nor desired my enthusiasm.  I never read the book.

Nonetheless, I wish you well.

Okay. I think it makes sense to shun people. I stopped watching TV a long time ago because it offended me.

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11 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Nowadays, there are few gatekeepers that can effectively prohibit your work from seeing the light of day.

Laughed involuntarily. Reviews matter, social media, constituencies -- and, yes, the NYT and PW bestseller lists. I've always enjoyed your good-natured honesty on OL, and always consider what you think, Michael. For reasons which transcend digital and social savvy, no one wants what I write, not even friends and family. The good news is that I'm on strike, until an agent or publisher steps forward with a five-figure advance.

 

Thank you all for participating on this thread. I'm sure you're right (each of you) and I'm wrong (in all cases). However it remains that A Portrait of Valor and The Tar Pit were worth it (to me). It's difficult to do something unlike others. Took a lifetime to achieve.

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