Wolf DeVoon Posted June 23, 2018 Share Posted June 23, 2018 What if men don't read? -- what do I do then? I don't mean girlie men, or gays, or thoughtful students of literature and science. Certainly not sport fans, glued to the tube. Fathers of small children are too busy. No expectation of being read by women, young or old, that's for certain. I need to write the third act of 'Partners.' I resolved to make it a passion play, christlike Kyle betrayed and punished, full of love for his fellow man while he kills. See? About a million miles from Earth, where cosy mysteries and factual accounts of combat in Iraq entertain the few grown-ups who buy books. I don't think young people read any more, and what I do is unsuitable for innocent hearts of any age. It's not a marketing problem, and if it were I can't afford to plunk down thousands for Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, reaching for a lone nut in a haystack of hooey. The traditional method of kicking doors open is to woo an established author, hitchhike on someone else's coat tails. That involves schmoozing and telling lies. I'm not qualified to do that. Not that I'm incapable of lying, but there's something wrong with the way I'm wired, a Frankenstein monster. I can't feign admiration for crap. Probably why I'm so isolated, writing for myself, daring myself to do better in a solo Category of One that no publisher or bookstore needs or wants. The cost in cigarettes and coffee doesn't matter. No matter what I do, the years click along as they always have. Almost impossible to find "friends" on Facebook or Reddit. I tried Twitter, revolted and disgusted by minds (?) that I couldn't delete, flooded like a river overflowing its banks with bullshit. I tried the Alt Right and white supremacists. They don't read fiction. I missed the thriller category by a wide margin, no talent for it. Ah. That must be it, obviously incompetent. Authors should triangulate a known form, play pattycake with plot "beats." If I was serious about being successful, I would attend writers conferences, offer myself as an imbecile, humbly grateful to praise others at random, an interchangeable member of the wannabe collective, learner's permit in the back row. There's a writers group an hour away, meets every month. It chokes me to consider it. I have nothing in common with advertising copywriters, newspaper columnists, history buffs, bible thumpers, and visiting dignitaries, respectable by virtue of selling books -- any kind of anything that has a dust jacket. I should have listened to erstwhile friends in the 1980s, when I was young and fine, making my first few leaps as a director. They logically urged me to change my name, marry a Jewess and convert. But I had been Roarked, no longer part of the world owned and operated by others. Bad enough that directing assignments were projects that someone else conceived. We all start by playing second fiddle in someone else's orchestra, doing old standards and shooting cliches in a barrel. No one else to blame for my aborted first feature. I had a lot to learn about filmmaking, seven eighths of which is playing well with others, hale fellow well met, smiles of pleasure from all concerned, none of which was natural to me. I think back to innocent Janet, the girl who loved me. It was already too late for me at age 14, incapable of ordinary, respectable, sane, sensible life. I yearned for freedom, and I was ready to commit any crime to obtain it. Movies are made with OPM -- Other People's Money, a fact of life -- and dozens of years of experiments with cameras, lighting, microphones and editing benches. My first film was funded by a Catholic priest, Father Ed, who scolded me that the money he gave me was saved from a bicycle newspaper route. Twenty years later, it was a multi-millionaire who scolded me that I cast too many black people. "Are there no whites in London?" he railed, the head of a Dutch eugenics charity worried about gene drift. I didn't care whose money it was. I made shows I liked. I wrote books I liked, after my film career died in a Disney cubicle. I don't expect anyone to agree with my ideas about liberty and justice. No one ever has. Nothing else to do, I returned to a pair of characters that I created as an object lesson for others, a group of 50 screenwriters who thought I was an interesting guru at Zoetrope. Some of them became successful writers; many gave it up after a few seasons, too talented to succeed. I blew a diplomatic fuse, unable to stomach Main Board dominance by villains and LGBT horror producers, literally gay people who made amateur horror movies on a shoestring that were guaranteed to win a festival award, every clumsy child a winner in that category. I couldn't do it, despised horror. Harry and Laura, Janet and Archie, Chris and Peachy, and now, Kyle and Karen. See a pattern? Cis-het adult romance, graphically told, renegades in each other's arms, inseparable after the miracle of finding each other. Not normal. Nothing warm and fuzzy about men who kill. If I added up all the officials and innocent civilians I've killed over the years, it would be equal to every face seen on television, whole stadiums of NFL and college football fans, not quite as many tortured and starved to death by Galt, but a good effort anyway. Being an Objectivist is a serious handicap in creative work. Helpful in every other industry, particularly banking and politics. BB&T, Saxo Bank, Speaker of The House, and Israelis by the boatload. With only a tiny bit of vice, I could have joined the libertarian Lew Rockwell cabal or the Antiwar pooftahs. What would Roark do? More importantly, what did l want to do? For a while it was okay to rant. I had a platform for a couple years. But I couldn't even stick to that script. Instead of making progress as a virtuoso attack dog, I told stories about men beaten by beautiful interesting women, argued that women should be exempt from the criminal law, given an exclusive prerogative of life and death. Men naturally resist such ideas. I like Objectivist Living, however dull it seems. Benevolent MSK ought to be sainted, and I'm fond of his flattering Rand photograph on the masthead. I saw it in Andrea Millen Rich's office when Laissez Faire Books had a floor of operations in midtown Manhattan, 30 years ago. Life is measured in decades. It's been two since I started writing fiction full-time, interrupted by as few day jobs and family duties as possible. If I had pissed away twenty years as a drunk or a drug addict, I might be in better shape. There is no rehab for hundreds of thousands of words, nearing a million, every one of them a crime against humanity. A long time ago, '94 if memory serves, I explained that artistic achievement was more important to me than survival. Soon it will be put to the test. No one lives forever. Assuming that the blockade holds -- 250,000 independent authors on Goodreads, all of them more successful and less dangerous than I am -- my works will evaporate when I die, unread and ignored. Ayn Rand stopped writing fiction when she was my age, too busy with celebrity to create anything more. It happens to all of us, famous or not. We stop. So, as long as my brain and body still function, I'll putter along, do a nice third act of 'Partners' that I cannot rush into from a pat outline. My characters dictate what happens as it unfolds, a chemistry of living, real people who cannot be forced to dance like wooden puppets. All I do is write about it, witness to their bitterness, vulnerability, love and compassion in the face of voluntarily chosen disaster, almost certain death by violence. I write about such things and the women who know and flee from that knowledge, not in fear, but to free their loved ones to fight effectively. The men who went to rescue Galt were willing to fight and die, leaving widows and orphans to mourn them in a remote mountain valley with a gold dollar sign. I like it that Rand's stories are discussed on OL, the only legacy that matters. When I was 22 years old, I met a real life Dominque Francon and laid her, gave her little choice in the matter. She retaliated with all the dismissive hell that one should logically expect. It would take me another thirty years to be worthy of her, and I was married to someone else less challenging by then. I often think of Dominique, both of us nearing 70 now, far too late to dance again. I hope and trust that she found a rock hearted Roark to tame her exquisite beauty. Can you imagine Howard Roark reading a novel? -- naw. Wouldn't need it. 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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