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Keep Haulin’

Keep haulin’, keep haulin,  

Whatever your storm or your rocks may be,

Keep haulin’ boys.  Keep hauling Fishermen’s Friends

I see some of the staff at Hachette have demanded that JK Rowlings’s fairy story, THE ICHABOG, be cancelled. Not because anything is wrong with the story, but that Rowlings dared express an insufficiently woke opinion about ‘trans-people’ in an entirely separate context. They have threatened to quit otherwise. They’re plainly so woke their privilege checks them. Well, I give them the same advice I give to myself and other writers: keep hauling. If it’s what you truly believe in, give it your best and stick to it.

I also see Hachette have suddenly and belatedly discovered that they believe in freedom of speech, and hold forth that what someone says in a separate context should have no impact on how their work is treated. Amazing.  Perhaps they’d like to explain that to all their publisher friends and their hangers-on, who seem to have an entirely different opinion?  I am sure however the threat of the loss of a bunch of wokesters will bring Hachette’s management to their senses. After all, one finds multi-million selling authors under every bush, sometimes two at a time.  Staff at publishing houses on the other hand are so talented and terribly, terribly rare that they cannot be replaced. Keep hauling wokesters! If that is ACTAULLY what you believe in, not just a virtue-signal to your little chums, I am sure you’ll come to a bright sunrise. Possibly on a park bench, but hey, that’s what the rest of us may well face, sticking to our convictions.

Anyone want to bet that they’ll fold and look for a softer target? Not learn, or change, or be rational, all of which might help. But pick on someone in a weaker position next time. The world of traditional publishing is very fluid at the moment. Sort of like the second part of bowel-prep fluid (I refer purely to the consistency, of course. I would never dream of comparing the industry to anything quite so nasty. It’s merely full of suspicious bubbles, gurgles and general unease.) If things get worse – at moment it’s been survive by selling the family silver – e-books of older books, and audio rights — we may see all sorts of sudden movements of staff and other expenses.  Interesting times. For the last forty years it’s been a case of if you were sufficiently woke and failed, you failed upwards (I can think of editors who killed a sequence of magazines and imprints still being feted and still getting work).  I wonder what happens if they run out of spaces?

Anyway, back to the writer’s aspect of today’s post.  There are times when writing is easy. There are even, for a lucky few, occasions when making good money out of that has also been easy. It happens, and like stories of the new miner finding gold in generous lumps kept gold rushes going – which made those made prospectors their business (not gold-hunting) rich — these stories have fed publishing. Most prospectors, of course, made fairly little, if anything. If you took the one or two got lucky and had it easy stories out, even those who found payable gold and maybe did well or all right out of it, worked long and hard… AND were lucky. Working long and hard didn’t make you lucky, but it did increase the chances you would be.

A lot of that was just keep haulin’. (I see this as a fisherman would, pulling ropes, long lines and nets. Man, there are times when that seems endless, and hard and heavy.) It’s not necessarily that there is something – particularly – you’re doing wrong. Possibly many things – we can all improve – and possibly nothing much at all. Getting lucky, being in the right place at the right time, and seizing that chance, all need to happen. I’ve stuffed up the last one several times, but also taken that chance successfully a few times.

The one thing you mostly can’t do without is that ‘keep haulin’. It’s not going to happen that that twenty year old manuscript suddenly gets discovered in an editor’s drawer, and she says ‘why, this is better than JK Rowlings, let me contact this person and tell them they are rich and famous’. Which means keeping faith in yourself. Your work may have great virtue, in that it is a good and wonderful read, but until readers start telling you that (and not your mum or girlfriend or best friend – who could well be telling you absolute truth, rather than being loving and kind), the only person that counts to keep you going… is you.  Sometimes – like the Hachette employees if they actually did believe in their rightness and stood for their beliefs and quit if the publisher doesn’t cancel JK Rowlings book– it doesn’t work out quite the way you hope.  The industry is full of weasels who stood for what they thought the mob would like. Sometimes that works for a while…

But not for me. And I don’t believe they do for producing the great books that stay on the comfort read shelf. for those you give your best – and your heart stays true.

Keep hauling. And that’s where I am with the present couple of books I am working on. Gaining ground by the inch with a long hard haul to go.

Image by Quang Nguyen vinh from Pixabay

16 Comments
  1. Yeah, when even a long pause in publishing results in miserable sales figures, stopping altogether is unlikely to help.

    June 22, 2020
    • What’s scary from their perspective is that they could stop publishing and most people (meaning almost everyone) wouldn’t even notice. And apparently they know this, because they don’t try this crap with run-of-the-mill authors.

      If the promised J.K. Rowling kid’s book didn’t come out, -then- people would notice. Meaning this is a push to get their pet fashionable cause in front of more eyeballs, and nothing more.

      Nauseating.

      June 22, 2020
  2. I can only imagine what the complainers and SJWs would say about my robot girlfriends book, if J.K. Rowling was so over-the-top Nazi that they have to quit rather than publish her latest. They’d probably seize, melt and go on fire.

    But we will never know, because they do not answer emails from lowly writers. Too high and too mighty, or maybe too lazy? Embrace the power of “and”?

    Leading me to believe they haven’t really read J.K.’s latest and found it ++ungood, they’re just piling on the shirtstorm because she’s a big name. I’m sure J.K.’s amazingly rich agent (15% of billions is a big whack o’ money) has made a phone call to Hachette’s board of directors and offered to take the book elsewhere, if they thought it was too Nazi for them. That would likely be the source of their new-found respect for the principles of freedom.

    In related news I finally bought a book last week. Huge SF/F fan that I am, basement full of SF that I have, the book I bought was “Ingenious Mechanicks” by Christopher Schwarz, published by Lost Art Press. Based in Covington Kentucky, according to google. The press was started by Schwarz in 2007, I guess he didn’t like the flavor they were serving at Hachette.

    The book is about Roman carpenter’s benches. Did you know it’s called a workbench because you sit on it? Uh huh. A quick peek through that book tells you everything you want to know about how work was done when Christ was a carpenter. Recommended for artists too, there’s lots of art.

    Turns out those Roman guys were schmart. Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down. Never hold the board with your hand when you can make the bench hold it. They had every damn thing figured out.

    But. One thing I’ve learned in the process of making one of those workbenches is that I LOVE MY TABLE SAW. Oh my ghod, what a pain in the -ass-, all those long rips with a handsaw. Boring big holes in hard maple with a brace and bit, nightmare!

    Schwarz spends a fair amount of time in the book singing the praises of the plane, the romantic song of the saw as it sings its way through the wood, and having tried it I will keep my modern electricity, thanks very much.

    Table saw, REEEEEowww! and its done. And it is -straight- too. No fiddling around paring things with a chisel, or hand-planing your way to victory. I love my drill press too, and my band-saw. Power tools are awesome.

    What’s interesting here from a Mad Genius perspective is that none of this went through Big Five publishing. Schwarz and his co-authors skipped the whole industry.

    I think we can see one reason why they did that, Hachette “workers” spending time threatening to walk out because somebody said something on Twitter. If they’re that busy screwing around virtue signaling, they won’t have much time to be working on the book about benches, will they?

    June 22, 2020
    • If they thought you were three minorities and unusual sexual preferences, and far left, and were their college roommate at an Ivy, I’m sure your book would be considered Stunning and Brave.

      But alas, you hang out with us…. And you have a sense of humor.

      June 22, 2020
  3. I have my differences with J.K. Rowling, not the least of which being the crud that she put in Books 6 and 7 of her top series (I have not read Book 8 and never intend to). However, I do have to admire the way she has handled the “TERF” accusations by not apologizing, not backing down, and sticking to the simple truth of “‘woman’ means something real, and you do not become a woman by saying that you are.”

    June 22, 2020
    • I was -extremely- put out with the murder at the end of Book 4 of the famous series, and sent my first and only letter of discontent to a publisher on the strength of it. I did read the rest, but it was never really the same, you know?

      June 22, 2020
  4. TRX #

    Rowling is worth somewhere over one billion US dollars. She could tell her financial people to find a nice little publishing and buy it outright. Probably cheaper to do that than to set one up from scratch.

    She might not ever be able to publisher her own work outside of Hachette, depending on how her contract reads, but she could make such a problem for them it would be cheaper to let her go. No matter how Woke the editorial staff are, Hachette is so big the bean counters are going to have the final say in almost everything.

    June 22, 2020
  5. If we’re not working, some of us don’t eat. That’s a powerful motivation! (Been there, no fun at all. Inch by inch, page by page, book by book . . .

    June 22, 2020
  6. Mary #

    Hauling. . . .

    June 22, 2020
  7. Netflix’s new Perry Mason series is not actually about Perry Mason, or any other lawyer. It is about an LA private eye in the noir 1930’s, and the mystery involves a murdered kidnapped baby and a Fatty Arbuckle in all but name. The PI is named Perry Mason, for some reason.

    Erle Stanley Gardner is rolling in his grave.

    June 23, 2020
    • TRX #

      …and Gardner actually *had* a PI series that the Woke would like; Cool & Lam. Bertha Cool, the Power Woman in charge of things, and Donald Lam, the nebbish who did the scutwork.

      June 23, 2020
      • Yes, but that series is tough and funny!

        Apparently it is HBO that has the Perry Mason series. It is supposedly an origin story of “how I became a lawyer.” But Mason is a WWI veteran, and it is 1932. Even if he reads the law instead of going to law school, it is a ludicrously late start and makes no sense. And he is paying alimony and child support, so he can’t have any money for a practice! Even if he sells his piece of real estate, it is ludicrous.

        Bleh. Any fictional show with an on-screen murdered baby is not for me.

        June 23, 2020
  8. snelson134 #

    Dave, here’s another song in that vein:

    June 23, 2020
  9. mrsizer #

    I left a not-so-good (3 star) Amazon review, today. I hope the author keeps hauling. The writing was not bad – I did finish both books one and two – but the protagonist was a complete idiot, and I don’t think the author noticed.

    I get, and don’t much mind, idiot characters when they are written that way on purpose (Ebsa’s debut as Kitchen comes to mind). But two complete books with no apparent hope for the poor guy because the author hasn’t noticed he’s too stupid to live was just too much.

    The world building was good. The dialog read well (even saying stupid things). Nothing yanked me out of the story. I wish him the best of luck.

    June 23, 2020
    • I just ran into R. M. Meluch’s 2017 novel, Blood of Akhilles. Very nice historical novel about the very beginning of Alexander the Great’s reign, with all kinds of good details. Not kid safe, not super gay-oriented, just historical. Includes all sorts of character POVs, including a hetaira, and the horse Bucephalus with a mythological view. I’m just in the first third of the novel.

      Either she went to Greece and scouted locations, or she spent a lot of time on Google Earth.

      June 23, 2020

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