Go Go Gadget Blog Entry

People read this stuff.

Frankly, that amazes me.

Why anyone would care what a humble novelologist has to say about . . . well . . . anything is beyond me.  I suppose my thoughts on writing are worth noting.  Although I think even that’s a stretch because there are plenty of popular books, movies, TV shows that I find absolutely dreadful and scads of maligned books, movies, TV shows that I think are genius.  If I was truly a master of storytelling, I could explain to you why people like Twilight or Caprica, and I could also tell you why Manimal and Automan are largely forgotten.  But I can’t.

I like to think of myself as a smart guy, but I’m just another Terran trying to figure things out.  My career has placed me in the spotlight.  True, it’s not a very large spotlight, but I am, nonetheless, a person of interest.  I hesitate to use the word celebrity, but it’s not entirely wrong.  And there’s some responsibility that comes with that.

Maybe the biggest burden is that I am not allowed a casual opinion.  If you’re a regular reader of these things (and I’ve been led to believe that there’s a few of you out there) then you’ll notice I rarely comment on books, movies, etc.  Oh, sure, I might mention a movie every now and then or a book I particularly enjoyed, but for the most part, I try to limit my comments.  The reasons are varied.  I don’t want to insult anyone.  These are, strangely, people I work with.  Or might work with.  If I said, The Dresden Files stink!, and it got back to Jim Butcher, that could be awkward.  Although that’s just an example.  For the record, I have nothing against The Dresden Files, and I’ve met Jim Butcher who is a heck of a nice guy.

That’s kind of weird too.  Before I was published, I was free to blog anything I wished.  Not that I blogged at all before I was published, but if I had, no one would’ve really cared what I had to say.  Even if I did slander a writer’s work, I wouldn’t run into them.  And even if I ran into them, they wouldn’t have known who I was.  I could’ve written Frank Miller is a horrible writer a million times, and why should he care?  Okay, he most likely doesn’t.  But if he does, there’s always the possibility, however slight, that we might meet at some future time, and that might be unpleasant.  He might even order his solid gold robot bodyguards to work me over while he watches, perched atop a pile of money, laughing his ass off.

The other thing is that to criticize another writer is to basically attack them in their pocketbook.  We don’t talk about this enough, but word of mouth is important.  Word of mouth can make or break you in this biz.  And to say something bad about another writer is to attack them in a very personal way.  I know because whenever I read a negative review or comment about anything I’ve written, I can’t help but wince.  It doesn’t matter if every website and magazine in the world declares my latest book to be the best thing since laser vision goggles, if one says something unflattering, then I’m going to lose a customer.  And I want people to buy my books.  Oodles and oodles of people.  I don’t mind being criticized.  I don’t mind if someone dislikes something I’ve written.  That comes with the territory.  We shouldn’t be afraid to share our opinions.  Still, it’s hard for me to hit another writer in the bank account.  And, yes, I’m aware that Frank Miller, Jim Butcher, and most other popular writers are not in need of my endorsement nor in danger of my criticism.  But still, I take it seriously.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,

Lee

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8 Comments

  1. Rippley
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I don’t buy it. If opinions caused folks to lose popularity or money, then why do folks gain heightened popularity and millions of dollars off of bad publicity. I have multiple examples of bad publicity making millions of dollars for people, whether they deserved it or not. [Examples removed because WordPress deemed them spam---Wordpress is against free speech]

    Example three, writer Stephanie My3r. She writes books aimed toward thirteen year old girls. Her books are filled with abusive boyfriends, broken families, some-sort-of sex/blood inhibition dynamic. Her characters are one dimensional. Her plot has so many holes I could add it to Reuben sandwich to replace Swiss cheese. The Twilight and New Moon movies made me want to hunt down Em0 children for the slaughter. But Stephanie Myers has made millions of dollars. The entirety of the internet talks gobshitte about her stories, the actors playing the characters, who are all now rich. I would not even know about Stephanie Myer’s Twilight series had it not been for bad press.

    Example four, beloved Charlain3 Harris. You know her. Her books are great. But had it not been for spoofs of the True Blood show on HBO, I would not have known about True Blood, and later, taken two weeks to read her complete S00kie Stackhouse series. I mean, the spoofs of True Blood have grown so numerous that their is now a hardcore porn spoof for the show, by Roy Lee Myers (makes porn spoofs of popular television shows).

    I could go on with these examples, but I want to make a point.

    I’m not saying we need to bad mouth the arts or artists for their own popularity. I am saying that controversy adds mystery, and mystery leads to curiosity, and curiosity leads to money. Money is not the most important thing in the world, but it sure is fun to have. And while
    “controversy” tends not to let your audience see you in serious light, “controversy eventually dies down, and people, college students, read your book. They write critical essays; thus renewing your work as serious art. Basically, you end up being read by the people you want to be read by.

  2. Posted April 19, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I care about what you say because, frankly, the mind that gave us The Automatic Detective gets a free lifetime achievement award in my book.

    Also, I’d totally read the solid gold robot bodyguard story. Just sayin’. ;)

  3. A. Lee Martinez
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Rippley, you misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t think people should be allowed to criticize the works of others. I’m saying that I, as an artist, cannot do so casually. As a professional writer, I have to be careful because word gets around. I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize and discuss the work of others. They absolutely should. But it’s just different for a person in my position because writing is what I do, and what I say could have short term and long term consequences on my career.

    Of course, perhaps one day I’ll be popular enough that I’ll feel secure in doing so, but I still don’t necessarily see the point. It just seems like too many headaches. But in no way do I want to imply that it’s wrong to share opinions and discuss openly our likes and dislikes,or that a negative opinion automatically means poor sales. Just something that I don’t feel comfortable doing in my position.

    Johne, thanks for the kind words. I’ll check off the achievement unlocked box on my list.

  4. Rippley
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    No, No, I get it. I understand that professionalism comes with certain consequences. You get flack for disrespecting other artists, or newbie artists. It’s just, professionalism has stripped you of public opinion. Or, at least, public opinion concerning certain topics. In my opinion, this is a damn shame. A fiction writer, professional or otherwise, is an entertainer. Entertainment is entertainment; it’s not fact. If you were to state your opinion upon another novel writer, or script writer, or rotten troll commenter (who continuously contradicts every blog you write :>) it is just an opinion. Even if you were to state your opinion matter-of-factly, as if it were truth, your statement still remains an opinion. Opinions are best taken with a gain of salt, someone once said. They are not to be taken seriously. So, for me, it’s a damn shame that I will never be able to see another half of the true A Lee Martinez.

    I mean, it doesn’t matter to you or your personal friends with whom you can talk privately, but it matters to me–the reader. Because now I know you are holding something back. Even if you wanted to state a radical opinion, you can’t. Professionalism proceeds the person.
    Jean Paul Sartre, among many other existential philosophers, have coined this way of being as “the man of bad faith.” I am so sorry that the writing world has turned in on itself so poorly.

  5. Rippley
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    No, No, I get it. I understand that professionalism comes with certain consequences. You get flack for disrespecting other artists, or newbie artists. It’s just, professionalism has stripped you of public opinion. Or, at least, public opinion concerning certain topics. In my opinion, this is a damn shame. A fiction writer, professional or otherwise, is an entertainer. Entertainment is entertainment; it’s not fact. If you were to state your opinion upon another novel writer, or script writer, or rotten troll commenter (who continuously contradicts every blog you write :>) it is just an opinion. Even if you were to state your opinion matter-of-factly, as if it were truth, your statement still remains an opinion. Opinions are best taken with a gain of salt, someone once said. They are not to be taken seriously. So, for me, it’s a damn shame that I will never be able to see another half of the true A Lee Martinez.

    I mean, it doesn’t matter to you or your personal friends with whom you can talk privately, but it matters to me–the reader. Because now I know you are holding something back. Even if you wanted to state a radical opinion, you can’t. Professionalism proceeds the person.

    Jean Paul Sartre, among many other existential philosophers, have coined this way of being as “the man of bad faith.” I am so sorry that the writing world has turned in on itself so poorly. What is a writer without an opinion, or an emotion, about anything and everything he/she encounters? I understand the power of words, but must we censor everything for the well being of the delicate flower?

    Oh, well. *shrugs* smile for the camera.

  6. A. Lee Martinez
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Rippley, I get what you’re saying. Sorry for the misinterpretation on my part.

    Yeah, I wrestle with the dilemma quite a bit. Is it “selling out” to withhold an opinion, especially a strong opinion, about something simply because I’m afraid of the possible damage to my career? Or is it just being smart? Honestly, I can’t decide. But it really isn’t a unique problem. All of us face these moments when we have to decide whether to voice our thoughts or keep them to ourselves. Whether it’s a question of speaking up when your boss gives you a bad idea or when we see something in our everyday life that we don’t agree with. When is it appropriate to speak out?

    People who never volunteer an opinion for fear of offending anyone don’t get much respect from me. But people who always voice their opinion, regardless of the circumstance or relevance, also get no respect. Either is a one-dimensional response to a complicated universe.

    So I will share my opinion. When something is truly dreadful, I find it easier to say something negative, consequences be damned. And, of course, when something is wonderful, I feel no hesitation to sing its praises. It’s the in-between that make it tough.

    Like every Terran on the planet, I have to balance my integrity with the real world. It isn’t always easy, but that’s life, right?

  7. Zovesta
    Posted April 20, 2010 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I can get that. Frankly, I think both your books and blogs are fun to read, so I respect your opinion and how you don’t want to really insult others.

    …If, by some stroke of luck, I manage to get a book published, I will give you a good word. =V

  8. Posted April 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Although I’m not yet published, I decided years ago not to malign other authors’ works. I’ll say positive stuff, but I won’t say I hate this or that book, even big names who certainly don’t need my endorsement or lack thereof.

    In fact, I’m careful about everything I post online.

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