Today I have an example of why I have a problem with all those memes that suggest that Team America are to hang together, cheer everything on each other’s behalf and AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE. I have several cliquey groups of low denomination authors who regularly validate each other on every topic from contempt for the poor to ‘authors must write in only one genre.’ I kid you not, the culture of self-congratulation stifles creativity to such an extent that they actually try to tell you what to write to be in with the cool kids.
There is nothing wrong with writing rotten romances, or hackneyed mysteries over and over again, provided you can find an audience, or find a catchy way of engaging your audience. Two self-published authors that I know of became millionaires simply by adding their email address to their work and requesting that their readers email them when they found any errors. They simply ploughed the time they should have spent editing into relevant forums, investing in marketing and generally getting their name out. Personally, I would not recommend this, since at least one science fiction author I know writes books that are effectively unreadable, and then entreats a massive number of other authors to become beta readers, ignoring any attempts at editing and repeatedly requesting positive reviews. (I am afraid that after only one attempt at beta reading, when I discovered that my editing notes were longer than her text, I had to leave this exclusive gang.)
The problem with positivity, or even your closest friend absent-mindedly saying yes to everything and avoiding giving an opinion for fear that you will not like them any more, is that one day, they will let the mask slip and your poor fragile ego, which you have been relying on to get the job done, will temporarily shatter and it is not until you find some way of assuaging your angst that you can get writing again. This is kind of what happened with the original academic essays I was attempting to talk to Wolfe about. As it happens, it is probably just as well, since my reconnected synapses are having a lot more fun than they used to, but losing your sense of self, and in my case, my maudlin and cynical seriousness, could be pretty damaging, depending on what you are trying to do.
It is also not a good idea, unless you are in an actual team situation, to go shattering egos on a frequent basis, since the ego you are shattering may be the one that ultimately makes yours fly higher. As a creative chef, I was quite keen on the whole ‘leave your ego at home and rely on mine’ scenario, but now that I am in a situation where I work alone, I am becoming quite phobic about any interruption to the flow at all. It is simply easier to just avoid people altogether. The loneliness means that I get more work done, and can employ a lot more stamina since there is no deadline.
The most recent attempted attack by a writer was on the grounds of my work being free, which is hysterical. Asking a modern author in a market where 400k books are being published every year, to charge for their early work is a bit like telling a singer to make sure everyone knows they can sing, but not to actually prove it unless they have a thousand bucks in their hot little hand. It just won’t work. You can choose to pay for marketing, or you can choose to network with yet more people, but the actual problem with an unknown is the number of clicks you are asking the customer to make to get your product. In my case, the nature of the project being extremely personal, (I really write for an audience of one, in the case of the Best Ever series) I do not feel I would want to charge. Besides which, my stories lead people back to look at my artwork. Interestingly, the artists that I have shared the project with love the idea. The only people who seem to have a problem with it are the very same low denomination authors that club together in miserable cliques, reviewing each other’s work and wondering why the numbers are not improving.
So, I am, ironically, developing a bit of a temperament, in the course of escaping the results of a family-induced state of utter misery. Most of the time I am happier than I was before, but my temper is probably worse, since I cannot tolerate rocks in the river, so to speak. I am not entirely happy with this, but perhaps with time I will be less fragile and my love of growth through dissent will return. In other words, the old adage of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ which has been something of a central theme in the past, will perhaps be reduced to the size of a mere tributary.