…and other potentially futile pastimes, like writing.
I was at sea yesterday, and someone forgot to inform the fates, so there were no storms, the long-line did not get stuck, no-one got stabbed or bitten or injected with excruciatingly painful toxin by the spines of a gurnard-perch (we caught three). We even got some fish and got home at a reasonable hour.
I know. My reputation, Iago, my reputation… Still, as in good fiction, it’s all about contrasts, not an even tenor (even if that tenor is soprano with terror and suspense) throughout, so a good day will lull the victi… uh, fisherman. Otherwise they’d all stay home and do macramé – a skill we secretly practice out there. Ask my hand-lines.
The scene was even uplifted by a pair of seals and a pod of dolphins cruising about. Neither set of animals were that interested in us or our fishing, but I ventured onto that piece of prime foolishness (which is very like being a success as an author) of trying to get pictures of them, with my little point-and-shoot camera.
This is a typical photograph of five dolphin.
(if you click on the picture your see it full-screen and almost make out where they were.) And if you liked that one I have another 300 just like it. The delay between pressing the button and the camera taking the pic, as well as your reaction speed, make this less than easy. It’s even worse when you try to anticipate where something you can’t see will pop up next. They were playing around, diving and twisting and even tail-flapping – principally to irritate the seals I suspect, but maybe just for fun. Because they didn’t swim in straight lines it made for lots of pictures of the wrong bit of ocean while just out of frame they were leaping in a graceful curve to splash back as you turned and clicked. In the pre-electronic camera days, when you had 36 shots and a fair bit of cost to developing the film, everyone but the rich or dedicated few took one or two snaps and gave up. You needed a motor-drive and great camera, and either vast luck, or years at sea (because we don’t see dolphin – or seals – every time).
If I take my camera out every time I go to sea, and take enough pictures, I’ll get one, which, if not absolutely brilliant, will be pretty damn good.
And I will get lots of pictures of Nessie on holiday off Flinders Island.
No, really, she comes in every year to sample the delights of warmer water and dally a bit with her old beau, Cthulhu.
And between cuddles, Nessie and Cthulhu-babe are writing, and publishing Indy e-books. (Would I lie to you? Trust me. I’m an author. ‘Goldmann-Sucks, the vampire squid of my dreams’ was the title of Cthulhu’s erotic normal romance, and Nessie’s five-book steam-podunk trilogy rejoices in the title: “If you were a Plesiosaur my love” ) Now back in the bad old days, when the Elder gods of Publishing still ruled absolute, it was very like the 36 pictures and pay to get them developed, and poor N&C got nowhere, because neither of them kissed up well, and, besides, it was either the Elder gods way or Publish America, and the Elder Gods, for all they wished to destroy the universe and wipe out humanity as an idle aside, were not going to charge you for the privilege.
Now of course, with the advent of e-books they’ve been able put it up there, and, if they try often enough (take enough happy-snaps) they’ll find an audience. If they keep pushing, eventually they’re almost bound to get one which arrives at pretty close to the right moment, and is discovered by the right people, and they’ll do quite well (at least) out of self-publishing. If they give up, they won’t, but at least this decision no longer rests with the capricious Elder gods, and you CAN keep trying.
On the subject of financial success, as a good example of ‘how not to do statistics’ – I give you this. I know, from ‘The Grauniad’, not a reliable source, particularly about sf or writing. The reportage in that area seems of the level the paper that has the dog-sized cockroaches, Elvis on the check-out counter in Buttnagarrasett, Alaska, and images of the Virgin Mary miraculously appearing on crisps. You might even suspect it of being same reporters, except the skills of those in ‘The Guardian’ often seem markedly lower to me. Of course ‘Math’ is not obscenity to me, so perhaps that’s why the numbers quoted as if facts about authors here, really irritate me. The Authors Guild are responsible for the ‘statistics’ quoted.
Now there may be (or not) a great deal of truth in their members financial fate. (They are, as a group, heavily invested in worship and sacrifice to the Elder gods of Publishing. Their secret dark temples of radioactive imperial porphyry infest NYC. They gyrated and chanted in unison with Douglas Preston in his attempt to invoke the US Government to protect the Elder gods in their lairs of primal chaos from the thing they call ‘Amazon’). The figures tell us a great deal about those of their members who voluntarily self-select to supply information. For those, things are not going well. We have no real insight into how representative or how typical they are. This may well be the general picture, but one cannot tell. Some of them have even sullied their toenails in self-publishing.
However, there is deep comfort to be drawn in the fact that gender-based earning inequality has largely been eliminated with the survey also ‘revealing’ “that median income for male and female authors was “largely comparable” in 2014, with men earning a median of $8,250 and women $8,000. In 2009, male authors earned $12,250, compared to $10,500 for women.”
Yeah. A win. Equality by bringing everyone down.
Meanwhile, for a more positive data-set.
Onwards. More pictures. More words.