Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reflections 'n Shit

Well there goes 2013. I don't have any strong feelings about it, don't think I'll miss it. Not to belittle the year, because there were accomplishments, but there is a sort of underwhelmingness to it all. I tried to watch that end of the year recap with Carson Daly, but really couldn't hold my interest. All it did was show how incredibly shallow media is today. How many times did they have to reference Miley Cyrus and her twerking? I don't even think Syria was mentioned at all.

Zombie apocalypse? Yeah, I think it's already arrived.  

But for what it's worth, some good: I made my first SFWA sale. Total sales: 13 -1, no thanks to White Scat. One sale was a reprint to W1S1 anthology, which I hope to see soon.

While the hope is to make more sales this year, it's also dawned on me that I'm simply not writing what editors want right now. "Weep-woe" characters are in right now, victimhood is popular. Both of these things disgust me. I'm fine beating up on a character and giving them a hard time, but I do that because I expect the character to rise above the hardship--not drown in a puddle of their own tears. But repeatedly, I read stories where characters are treated and defined as victims, with no hope that they'll become more.

Such stories came in the form of dementia or autistic children--and I swear, there must've been a mandate somewhere, because practically every publication had one or the other (or both!) of these types. And it got old. Pretty much every dementia story could be described as old person's brain is deteriorating and it's all very sad and depressing. Every autistic child story consists of the child being or have been bullied. The short of shit that's meant to pull on your heartstrings, but fortunately, I clipped those strings long ago. I don't like being emotionally manipulated, it cheapens the experience, and I know that's what the author is doing, because emotions win sales! At least that's the only way I can explain how half that crap gets published. That, or really good blow jobs. Sure, a lot of these "weep-woe" stories are decently written, but a program can write well too. I just wanted to read an entertaining story, and they couldn't even deliver on that much.

And before you say "well don't read those kind of stories," I'll point out that they're pretty damn numerous, and it was hard not to bump into one when going through an issue. 

I understand wanting to increase diversity in fiction, but why dementia in first place? What is the obsession? Of all the mental disorders, this is the one everyone has latched onto. Then there's autism, which I'd be fine if the kids went on cool adventures and used their particular skills to solve problems in mystical realms, you know, being a hero. But noooooooo. It's just bullying and being misunderstood.  

This probably explains why Westerns have gone the way of the dinosaurs, because those were hero stories. Remember heroes? The kind of people who did deeds greater than themselves. Although I'm more partial to anti-heroes because there's more meat to them, and they're total badasses. But hey!--at least they did stuff. You didn't see cowboys whine, or bemoan the state of the world while doing nothing about it. 

Even comic books have turned away from heroism. Need I explain Man of Steel?

It's weird and sad at the same time.

Anyway I could go on, and I'd very much like to. But alas, (Twit)ter has shortened everyone's attention spans. That'll have to be a rant for another day.

2014: better? worse? We'll see in 12 months.


  1. Everything goes in and out of fashion with writing and this one will pass when 'they've' made enough money out of it.

    As for 2013, did it exist?

    1. It's a bit different for short stories since editors buy what they like, and unfortunately, a lot of them like "weep-woe" stories. I'm hoping they'll get tired of it just like they did with zombies and vampires.

  2. I met a "successful" author in 1964, who gave me the following sage advice. He said, "most of what I write is for me, and I keep in that drawer over there. The crap I publish is my job." I have never been able to get to that "Job" part of the equation. Better luck to you, if you really want it. As for the ZA, it happened ten years ago...

    Cheers, PB

    1. That is great advice. :)

      I'd love to be a "successful" writer, sure. But I don't know if I could bring myself to write "weep-woe" character that are supposed to make you feel all gooey inside (eck!) And that's only a small part of it, because even if you could write a great sympathetic character, the readership today is near retardation. You practically have to spoonfeed them the story!

      So I don't know if there can even be "successful" writers any more.

  3. 2013 was good to me overall, but I've never had to pull so many stories from unprofessional editors before. Hopefully it's not a sign of what's to come. I write pulp mostly, so I doubt I'll ever be "successful" -- those BEST OF anthologies don't carry my kinds of tales.

    1. Honestly Milo, I think your pulp fiction is far more enjoyable than the vast majority of these literary-genre hybrids I've been seeing. I almost wish we could return to the days of penny dreadfuls, where fiction was still be fun and not weighed down with so much socio-political, "we need to be fair to everyone" nonsense.