Chuckle. You know those delightful situations where some twit sets out to insult you, and falls over their own ignorance? Calls you stupendous under the mistaken impression that it is a fancy word for stupid and will make them look so superior? Or howls how racist you are for describing a payment as niggardly? Or claims that describing Chinese Communists by the US State Dept shortening of ‘Chicom’ is ‘racist’?
One of the fans sent me a hilarious puppy-kicker comment about Mad Genius Club — MGC, which any analysis of past posts would show is where a bunch of writers of various ages, stages, sexes, ethnicities, national origins, differing social and political views and backgrounds all coming together to help and support their fellow writers. To help people with the profession of writing.
The profession of writing.
Not the hobby, or self-fulfilment, or getting in touch with your inner self, or getting in touch with your outer self, or virtue signaling, or artistic merit, of writing.
Just the profession of writing.
That’s what the purpose of the site always has been. That’s what we’ve paid forward thousands of hours of our time to. It’s something which is personally very important to me. It’s a site I wish I could have found when I was starting into this profession. I love reading, particularly sf and fantasy, but reading in general. I want others to be able to enjoy it, and my unborn descendants to still enjoy it. Without professional writers… that will go the way of the music of the Lur. Once common, now Word says it is a spelling mistake. There are of course still hobbyists who play a Lur. But that’s about it.
We at MGC, according to the puppy-kicker: “I think they all only sincerely care about generating income.”
This I think was supposed to be derogatory. It’s on a par with calling us ‘stupendous’ as an insult, and made me beam from ear-to-ear. Because a profession that does not generate income for its professionals… isn’t a profession. It’s a hobby for people with the time and money to derive pleasure from.
Occasionally hobbyists may produce great things – whether you’re talking about paintings or macramé or books. But… writing great books, books that readers love, books that keep readers reading, is hard. It takes time, practice, effort, and… motive. And unless you’re a person with huge amounts of free time and no need to worry about putting food on the table, paying the rent, paying the bills, providing for your kids, the hobby is something you do when you’re NOT having to generate income.
The single largest exclusionary factor – by at least an order magnitude – excluding people from being writers, is financial. People who could, who would, and some of whose work would be an absolute outstanding delight to read, face the very real fact that they can’t afford the time and effort that something that doesn’t help to generate a decent income needs. And this financial exclusion doesn’t care if you’re black or gay or trans or white or Christian, or conservative. If you’re working at another job – or two, to generate an income to live on… you’re not writing nearly as much (if at all) as the guy who doesn’t have that problem.
The financially restricted or excluded are worse off in the writing world, than any fashionable minority. As a writer I want people to have a fair go, including, and maybe especially, the battlers. If you’re a single mum, with an abusive ex, working two jobs, trying to study and writing between five and six in the morning while the kids are asleep and before you have to get them ready for school and get yourself to work, I have a lot more time for you than the whining daughter of an Ivy league Prof who went to two Ivy league Colleges and never knew a day of hardship in her life. The first may be white and the second black, but it’s not their skin color that directs my sympathy, or my desire to see the former able to write for more than an exhausted hour a day – which she can only do, if it generates real income.
And the biggest part of that is seeing that the writer gets the best possible chance of generating as much income as possible. That means helping with everything from appealing to readers to marketing. That’s what we do, and it is something I am both passionate about and proud of my efforts to promote.
Other groups cheerfully promote politics or various issues… at the expense of the writer. They’re happy to punish writers who don’t go along with their agenda. Others support publishers who are nickel-and-diming authors under the guise of ‘social justice’. I guess I’m old fashioned, but the best social justice I can think of is helping the working man or woman (that’s your ordinary middle or working class folk) generate as much income from that hard work as possible.
At least to some extent, we write from our background and our work is enjoyed by people who get it, who share some of the same social and economic background. A great writer transcends this, but most of us aren’t great. There are a lot more good writers than great, and a lot of also-rans. Where finances are a real issue, the also-rans all drop out and vanish. When it isn’t, they’re like weeds, able to choke out the real talent, because there is no selective pressure on them. Take a long, hard look at the loud voices in trad publishing. How many of them would be there if they had to generate all their family’s income from writing? We’d, conservatively, lose ¾. And even the grandees now generating quite respectable incomes… some made their way up, translating a hobby into income generation, from a base of their own second jobs. But a very large number were born with silver spoons in their mouths, or had a working or wealthy partner, or trust fund, or even patreon.
Many of them wouldn’t be there if generating income from their writing was all that paid the bills. Would that be reading’s loss? I’m a lot more worried about us losing the voice – and the readers – of the blue-collar worker, and the ordinary middle-class Joe. They need an income to write more.
So, yes. All we care about is writers generating income. Every other piece of baggage you drag along, whether it is campaigning for goreball worming or a having a laundry list of PC approved characters… is your personal individual issue. You’re welcome to it, so long as you don’t force it everyone else, or damage the profession with your zealotry (sadly that too often comes with zealots).
If you can’t generate income from your writing, you’re a hobbyist. I wish you all the joy of your hobby, but unless you plan at least to try and try and generate an income, if you’re putting you novels on the market, I wish you in purgatory. We have enough dilettantes using writing for all sorts of other purposes which they care about, frankly damaging reading (because there is no selective pressure in needing to please readers to generate an income. It puts people off.) and certainly making life a lot harder for authors trying to make this a profession they can earn a living at.
Honestly, macramé is great for all those other things you care about. And if you could play the Lur as a hobby, it would bring a great deal more awareness to whatever issue you cared about without screwing up our profession.