Making a living, and things that may interfere with it.
I believe it is Memorial Day in the US.
I am not American, but I am aware of debt of gratitude owed. We should never forget. Without those dead, it would be a very different world, and one I am glad I don’t have to live in or leave to my children.
I often notice these days it is those who have gained most, who treat that sacrifice with least respect. (Think about what the Nazi’s stood for, or the Communists. Women, ‘PoC’ and Homosexuals were not well treated. Neither were a lot of other minorities) Ironic, I suppose, that they are free to treat it with disinterest so as a fruit that sacrifice, of that service. Ah well. That’s the way of things.
Most of people then – as now – just wanted to live their lives. They were happy to let others do the same… well, except for the people who weren’t. Eventually people had to go to war to preserve live-and-let-live. I am proud of their courage, and grateful for their sacrifice.
For those among us among the living, unless we’re some kind of parasite we have to make a living to enjoy the liberties so hard-bought. I write. I do a bit of farm labor, now and again. I’ve done a fair number of other jobs along my way, some boring, some secure, some freaking awful. Some muddy and some bloody… you might say I’ve managed an interesting life. There were times when it bored me silly (and I took the often risky decision to move) and when I had to do work I loathed (and when I could, I moved). We’ve been fortunate enough never quite to get to needing charity (but it’s come close) helped along by the ability and knowledge of how to live off the land. Behind me stand long generations of hard hunting men, who would consider me a pussy, but I can feed myself and my family quite well, thanks to them.
Writing is still what makes most of the actual money, which pays the taxes which keeps the soldiers and their families fed (which I am happy to add my bit to), and Government bureaucrats fat and telling us what to do, maybe even chips in a bit to provide welfare for those who can’t or don’t work. This is true of any writer who needs to sell to survive. If you can’t sell your work, you’re in strife, possibly your family is in strife (if you have one) and it hurts a load of other people, including parasites and pointless government functionaries, whose only value-add to society is that they exhale plant-food.
So: Being able to make a living is pretty important to a writer (or at least one that has to sell to live), and there really is no medium or long term gain in stopping them doing so. For most writers (not the few bestsellers perhaps, or those who rely on a check from academia, or a lover or parent, or a government handout, but the rest) it’s a tough, tough road. Don’t kid yourself, writers tend to earn far below the minimum wage, and work more hours, with more heartbreak than… for example, manual labor (I should know). Given that: We should look rather harshly on anyone who takes their grudge – whatever it is, and says ‘gee I don’t like Joe Writer. I can’t get at him any other way, but let’s hurt his ability to make a living. That’ll teach him.’
And likewise, as authors, we would want to avoid having that done to us.
A sort of MAD to assure a reasonable degree of decent behavior… you’d think.
Of course the problem, as always, is one man’s reasonable behavior is another’s red flag. And of course given modern internet anonymity, the access the internet gives, real power differentials, and the various ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ cards (you’re a racist/sexist/homophobe – which require no evidence and are potentially a trump) and ‘my-power-is-so-great-I-don’t-have-to-be-nice, there are bound to be problems. The other issue is there’s a vast divide between the live-and-let-live, and those who say it’s their sandbox, and only for them and those they choose, by the rules (which they change to suit them – ergo, suddenly producing the ‘unwritten rules’ of the Hugos and so on).
So far, to best of my knowledge, the Puppies, both sad and rabid, and their followers have avoided attacking things which make people a living. They’ve asked people to NOT take it out on the authors who have been pressured into stepping out of Noms. They’ve spoken out against punishing Tor Books despite the Neilsen Hayden’s and friends attacks on ‘Making Light’. No-one has called for a boycott or blacklist of David Gerrold, or Glenn Hauman, or to have their reputations tarnished and Amazon reviews deliberately lowered.
That’s of course NOT true in the converse. And while there’s been some passive-aggressive ‘semi-plausible-deniability’ ‘who will rid us of these turbulent puppies’ basically from the get-go it’s been attacks on the ability of the Puppy organizers and the nominees ability to make a living. We’re immoral destroyers (we obeyed the rules to letter. Patrick Nielsen Hayden broke the embargo rules with absolute impunity, not a word of criticism offered. Rules are only for little people.) who break every convention of good behavior (David Gerrold, the MC of the event, has been campaigning relentlessly against the Pups and the nominees – which is so far outside the canon of ‘acceptable behavior’ as to be a light-year beyond the pale). They organized smears on Entertainment Weekly to label us racists and sexists – which the magazine had to redact because they’re demonstrably untrue. It didn’t stop the smears mysteriously cropping up in ‘friendly’ outlets across the English Speaking world. Gerrold and TNH carefully listed all the nasty things –exclusion from Cons, denial of space in publications, editors closing doors to subs, reviews being denied… that just would happen to us. All things that would, had to, affect the puppies ability to make a living. Not one of them said ‘hey, these people have families. They’re human too.’ In fact we had phrases flung about putting us down. Untermench. Then we have Glenn Hauman calling for people to use the Hugo package for a way to game the Amazon rankings against the puppies. “Oh, and to answer the title question: what do you do to rabid puppies? You put them down.”
The Hugo packages have gone out – and so we start to see some of the responses of the loyal camp-followers. Yes, the fake reviews are up on Amazon. Yes, reviews by people that crop up on… the strangest places, associating with and cheering on the very people who happened to mention they’d like these turbulent puppies done in.
That’s of course the surface. The rest of the instructions are being followed too, I am sure… at least as far as they can. And of course many of their camp followers are in positions of authority and power in their circles. Take this fellow in the UK – he’s the reviews editor for Vector – the British Science Fiction Association, and has been a judge for some Awards. I’d guess a pup’s chances of getting fair or honest review from him, or a fair judgement in an award would be on a par with my chances of falling pregnant. He is telling the world I am actually insane.
I’m shocked. Do you think I’m the sort of man who wears a seagull on his head? Next thing he’ll tell you there’s gambling in Rick’s Casino.
Tch. Even if it is an actionable libel, insanity is relative. Honestly, look some of mine. I come from a long line of people I’m sure Martin Petto would consider insane. Of course I’m rather proud of the sort of ‘insanity’ that would stand up to the British Empire with a few thousand men (my great uncle was Koos De La Rey) just for a start. I was curious about someone who could be this much of camp-follower, obeying orders so well. He works, according to himself in the ‘public sector’ (aka he’s a bureaucrat working for government or local government) in London for the last ten years or so: “only another forty to go” – he sound like he absolutely adores his work and has made really happy life choices… Google brought me to someone in a freedom of information request of the same name handing out grants (presumably to the kind of people who you ask for this sort of information about) dealing with Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes.
If this is the same fellow I can actually understand why he hates the like of me, even without instructions: If I was running his Government I’d have him on the dole in a week. I’m a migrant. I could be hated, instead of having about 15% of the population of the place actually taking time off to come and cheer and congratulate us for becoming citizens. But I read Nino Culotta’s (John O’Grady’s pen name) “They’re a Weird Mob” before emigrating and took it to heart, and did my best to follow the very politically incorrect advice and fit in, do my best to learn the local ways, speech and conduct, and to be grateful to be allowed into Australia. As a result people are happy to meet us more than half way – we love it here, we like them, we’re very involved in work (not leading – only an idiot tries to come in and take over, just working) in the island’s volunteer groups (from Meals-on-wheels to the Returned Service League to the CWA) and even a trip to into the supermarket to buy a box of matches can take half an hour, but I can see FIFO would put him out of a job. And I suppose a ‘public sector’ drone looking to another 40 years at it, would regard my life choices as barking mad, just as I would his as unbelievably tedious. Well, he’s doing a great job of following RH’s playbook – which is his crowd’s playbook, and trying to break down any resistance. No wonder he hated ‘we build’. I think they should be very proud of him. And he’s dead right, put me under Amanda and Cedar (Amusing that he’s discriminating against two women who have succeeded without any affirmative action, but I suppose that would spoil his illusion of being better at feminism because he’s male). I amazed at his perspicacity on this one subject, given his track record. It is a bit of disappointment really. I was going to keep a close eye on what he positively reviews in future, as a great guide to exactly what I would rather avoid. But now I know he does get something right.
Or for another example, well, Tom Knighton captures it well here. NK Jemisin’s rumor-starting skills are nearly on a quality par with her re-tweet fan… Clamps. Her ethics too.
If you’re planning on making a living writing, being a Puppy nominee (even if like me you didn’t actually know you were one – yes, I should pay more attention. I had a book to write) is probably a bad choice, especially if you want to be one of the dahlings of the Publishing establishment. You’d be better off kissing up on Making Light. Or writing fake low star reviews or starting rumors to as many people as possible how vile (and insane) the pups are. When you fail to find anything – make shit up. That’s well respected by the Anti-puppies.
Of course there is a big world outside Traditional Publishing (which is steadily shrinking – which is why I support the Sad Puppies) and, while they’re trying to poison that, they at least don’t control it.
And besides, even if there wasn’t… I’d rather choose Aslan than the Sunless Lands.
I hope our side doesn’t gravitate to their level. I think it may happen and that will hurt a lot of people who just want to write books and leave it be. But eventually there comes a point where can no longer stand aside. We work for our living, and we need to defend that.