Eating Crow / And Who an Author Is and Isn’t

24 Feb

So I actually figured this out the day following my last post, but I have been kind of busy with work/RL to post. This is in regards to what I mentioned about King Aelle, so please, skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers. Ragnar Lothbrok, in accordance with the Poetic Edda, dies by Snake Pit. Aelle throws him in. Well played, tv show. I still think it was over the top and now I’m curious how one maintains it, but eeeeh.

In my defence, when I did research and wrote the rough draft for ToO I was an underemployed student, depressed but more importantly, incredibly broke. I could wangst, but I was hardly alone in the situation and it seems that the school has paid off since. I needed the internet for school so I’m more in the habit of researching what I need when I need it.

So to the heart of the matter – do self-published authors count as *real* authors?

Before we go any further, I’d like to remind you to say what you want, but defend what you say.
I’ve been looking into self-publishing for years, before it was acceptable and even reasonably affordable. I think it’s more to do with my routes being more along the lines of going to my regularly going to some basement comic convention than the Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival (or maybe just where mom and dad would drive my dorky young teen self). The idea of self-production is more than okay with comics and music, but we in general, the public sees self-pubbing as works that weren’t good enough to be picked up by a house. I suppose you have to at least know how to work your instrument or draw, whereas we assume that if we can read, we can put words down and it becomes a book of some sort.

Short answer – Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain… you get the idea.

Long Answer – Even if a publisher has all the funds in the world to promote ‘good’ books, not everyone likes everything at every time. I started getting my ‘not bad but here’s why it needs work’ rather then the general polite rejections around the age of 22, and while I got small publications in the meantime, I landed my first contract for a novel at 28 with a small Canadian publisher. I’d love to tell you it was all hearts and roses, but now I’m at a point where I’m second-guessing editors, when I see a good review I assume they’re just being nice, and if I keep going to the writers guild for classes and whatnot, it’s all basically rehashing the same old sphiel as I’ve taken these courses for years – now, actually writing and working with editors are my best teacher. And one can’t truly bitch, because if this isn’t an elitist, first-world problem, I do not know what is. I think publishing is a slow, frustrating game of writing even though you think you’re the only special misunderstood snowflake who everyone hates and why did you waste time writing books no one is ever going to read instead of going to the gym and making an even sexier version of oneself.

I think the point where you keep doing it even when you hate it when you work on it (but still kind of like it as a whole) you can call yourself writer and not someone who wrote something.

But when we get to the topic of who is an author – can I just say, that in my day job, where I make the $$ that so far supports me in supporting my books, I meet a lot of people in the medical industry. I’ve met medics from all over the province, good and bad ones, and nurses from just about every major hospital in the southern part of the province. I’ve talked to doctors who have practiced all over the world, specialists, technicians for various procedures, surgeons and members of STARS. Hey, let’s not forget out cops and firefighters, specialists from hydro – basically if it’s HazMat or is otherwise dangerous, the specialist who can tell you the ins and outs of it.

As a whole, the group of people who save lives have waaaaaaay less ego on the whole as the Winnipeg Writer scene? Notice how I said less ego?

For me, writing is about the work. I stunk when I started, but I also started like, 11 or 12 and as implied, I was more influenced by pulp and basement comics than ~Literature~. The author thing – that’s a crapshoot. And once again – background in medical industry – I’m not saying you didn’t work hard and now you have to feel bad about success or that you shouldn’t feel pride that you did things the ‘right’ way. I’m the first person to point out it’s not about someone’s feelings, it’s about what the reality is and I try to be pragmatic. Sometimes things fall into play, and other times, things won’t work out. There are fantastic novels out there that fall through the cracks because, for whatever reason, they get ignored. Then there’s the person who wrote something for fun and probably hasn’t read a book they weren’t forced to, and it sells a million copies. Lots of successful authors, I don’t personally like their writing style or their topics.

So it’s easy to understand that there’s a certain sense of elitism that goes with who does and doesn’t get to be called an author. Can I just humbly remind us that we’re all social creatures – in societies – which is usually where this INTJ thinks about how one can solve the dilemma, but let’s continue – we’re all weak and helpless when we’re born? Even if you buck your humble odds, there were people investing in you that you can never really repay. Not to make anyone feel guilty about not living cheque to cheque or that they can choose what they eat – but keep it in mind when you’re attacking someone, saying that if only they did this, that or the other thing, that you’re assuming that people not only see the world the same way as you, but also that they had the same opportunities as you. I’ve heard the arguments, and for the most part, too often I think we see success as it pertains to money. And coming from someone who finally broke through to the middle class a few years ago, no amount of money is ever enough. Once your needs are taken care of, try to find satisfaction in anything else.

This is my background speaking. I go into people’s houses on their really really bad days. Everyone needs an ambulance eventually, so I see the realities of different worlds within the same society. So when we’re arguing to basically bring a person down, saying this person is an author, and that one isn’t, please keep in mind that whether you’re naturally talented or have to work at it, the good work will be a good work regardless of whether it is ignored completely, or it was a lucky fluke. I would not set my eyes on acknowledgement or awards, so much as know that sometimes, it is enough that the darkness in the world can be defied with books that try to offer a little more than what is safe, socially acceptable, and profitable. I know true humility and kindness are often mistaken for weakness, but the fault lies in the person who denies them what they truly are, not the person who does the act.

Yes, there are some horribly self-pubbed books out there. I could argue the same for traditional books, and a publisher should have the resources to at least pull them up to a standard. As for me, I’ll keep spending my money on small Canadian Presses and pretend it’s making a difference.

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