ADD Title

I called this ‘ADD TITLE’ just because that’s what wordpress had in the title bar. I’m sure they were trying to be helpful or something. I just don’t take well to being told what to do or, in fact, to authority. Yes, if you were a teacher, I was THAT child. The noxious brat that questions everything, that usually knew far too much about the subject and deliberately used that to undermine your authority and sow chaos and disruption. You have my sympathy, and if it’s any comfort my sons were just as bad. Not that I can’t take orders… I’m just a bit tetchy about who or what they come from. Orders from some unknown programmer– who assumes, perhaps correctly, that many blog-post-writers are thick — for some illogical reason, pushed my buttons. Even if, yes, I had to add a title.

Being an anti-authoritarian, independent minded type is perhaps not the ideal match for ‘picking writing novels as a career’. It’s probably a better match than ‘anarchist’ (at least in modern ‘translation’ of that term. I find it very funny that the actual Fascists wore black shirts… some things don’t change, even if the names do) because at least in a day-to-day operation I don’t take orders, and I actually get to think.

But in practice, of course, all writers (at least those who make money – be it from a traditional publisher or from selling directly to the public) do ‘take orders’. In Trad Pub, those are the instructions of your publisher (and fulfilling their expectations). Yes, I don’t think JK Rowlings has to worry much about it. But for the rest of us: unless you have FU money, that’s what you do.

Now if you’re in Indy as a writer, it’s slightly worse. You’ve just swapped one boss for a whole lot of them. Not the self-declared arbiters of what you may or may not write – while loud, these folk are actually few, and mostly not where much if any income comes from. It’s math. The teeny-weeny group of intersectional Polyandrous Trans Gay Easter Islanders is not a big market, and neither is their self-elected champion, the upper-middle class white woman with a Liberal Arts degree. But the while a few of the real bosses (my readers, your readers) may occasionally demand the next book, or ‘why did you kill off so-and-so?’, they generally keep their ‘orders’ to either ‘we’re buying, take our money’ or ‘we’re not buying = you’re fired’.

They have expectations. And sometimes that may include you being a smartarse. Sometimes that may include you surprising them with a twist (but strangely only if they expect a twist, not if a twist is not what they wanted.)

Great move, Dave. Perfect for the guy who doesn’t like taking orders: Now you have ‘orders’ – fulfill those expectations, which you realistically have to guess at (having a knowledge of the genre, and really popular authors, helps.) or get ‘fired’.

31 thoughts on “ADD Title

  1. “Yes, if you were a teacher, I was THAT child.”
    I believe that in this self-selected sample, a whole lot of us were.
    Which makes the narrative “we’re a wacky bunch of misfits who achieve great things while pissing off inept authority figures”, doesn’t it?
    And rooting for the plucky underdog is hardwired into our cultural DNA.
    Would any of us really want to be Kevin Bacon running around yelling “All is well”? (Like a lot of puppy-kickers are currently doing?)

  2. — Now if you’re in Indy as a writer, it’s slightly worse. You’ve just swapped one boss for a whole lot of them. —

    Nope. I’m the boss. Yes, I’m also the quartermaster, the production desk, the marketing staff, the head salesman, the accounting department, and the janitor, but I’m the boss. No one can “fire” me. My readers, such as they are, can turn away, but I’ll remain in business just as long as I please. And not because I’ve got “FU money.”

    Your readers are not your bosses; they’re your customers. They have power over your revenue from writing, but they have no power over your direction, your methods, or your longevity in business. Anthony Trollope would tell you.

    The open secret of indie fiction is that our readers have been waiting for us. They’ve waited through many years of repetitive, uninspiring, dreary fiction. They’ve waited through the New Wave that was more depressing than challenging, the Transgressive Wave that was both humorless and frequently incomprehensible, and most recently the Woke Wave that’s all but eliminated story in the classic sense from our favored genres. And now we are here. Yes, it’s our task to find and connect with them, but it’s a task we accept fully aware of the challenges and difficulties.

    That’s what comes of being an indie writer. You no longer have just one job; you have all the jobs. But you’re the boss. You can decide for yourself what matters most to you. You can set your own schedule. You can elect to produce “the same, only different,” or you can go haring off into lands never before dreamed, much less explored. No one can insist that you do other than as you please.

    You might fail. Most new enterprises do. And if you do, the responsibility will be wholly yours…just as the credit would have been wholly yours had you succeeded. But you’re the boss. Don’t imagine otherwise.

  3. “Student knows more than the teacher”.

    While I’ve heard about a lot of cases of the above, my crazy mind remembers all those “know-it-alls” (I read it on the internet types) who are completely wrong. [Crazy Grin]

    1. If a teacher is doing a good job, those are *awesome* opportunities. You _want_ a kid who thinks they know stuff, but doesn’t, so that you can show you do actually know your stuff, and there is nothing wrong with getting extra information.

      Most educators don’t bother, and many teachers have trouble keeping control long enough to make it it work.

      1. I’ve encountered those types on-line mostly.
        Some of them are the “I know more than those Christians” types while being completely wrong.
        Ever encounter the “Saint Paul made up the name Jesus from the name Zeus” types? 😈

  4. I just don’t take well to being told what to do or, in fact, to authority. Yes, if you were a teacher, I was THAT child.

    For what it’s worth, there’s a spectrum of “that child,” with multiple complicating factors.

    On one hand, those who will accept no authority beyond themselves, although they may allow an authority to temporarily ally with them if it is of use. On the far end, those who go “well, they’re older than me, that’s legitimate authority” or even “they aren’t me, clearly they have authority.”

    I suspect folks here tend to cluster around the “give me a reason to accept your authority” end of the spectrum, simply from having been burnt often enough; a lot of kids (and, sadly, adults) are further to the “accept an excuse for authority” end, which sounds like it would make them good as a teacher– except that if another kid acts like the teacher isn’t an absolute authority, they’ll flip sides to following the kid.

    If all the teacher is allowed to have is passive authority, that makes the kid who has any actual knowledge of the subject a *really big* threat, unless there has been groundwork laid to make kids “sharing” their information a form of supporting the teacher’s authority. (That is a lot of hard work, most folks don’t bother.)

    It’s not so much that being “that child” is a bad thing, as the feral brats will form a mob on very slight excuses.

    1. You missed one. There’s “don’t -notice- authority.” They don’t understand the monkey hierarchy rules, so they can’t tell who the boss ape is. Or even know that there is one.

      This can lead to problems in school. ~:D

      1. Eh, social hierarchy is a different though related/overlapping issue.

        In the context of teachers, it’s an illegitimate form of authority, beyond the social baseline; the reliance of many educators on it is likely related to the inability to exercise functional authority by, say, removing those who violate basic social norms and classroom behavior.

    2. I try to be reciprocal.

      I have many opinions.

      I want people to do due diligence before they take certain of my opinions for any sort of expertise. (Technically, it is possible that I have some sort of expertise. I don’t identify that way, and I would argue “I am not an expert”. I think expert is partly a matter of audience, so someone could convince me that I have some expertise.) What I talk about on the internet is definitely internet rando stuff.

      I do get angry when I think someone is calling me a liar, I do not think I have given them any cause to do so, and I’d trusted them to give me a fair shake. So I do not live up to my ideal of accepting people judging me fairly in /their/ lights.

      There are some interesting questions in the field of ‘expertise’ that do not appear to have the best answers. One is judging expertise for a multidisciplinary problem. This is worse for problems of at least three to four disciplines/domains, that may or may not also include other domains. So far, it seems like my best line of attack is ‘part of the definition of expert should include the trust by the public/customer, so that it includes the response of that to good and bad work’. It should never purely be a matter of training, or certification of training.

    3. My parents were always keen on the “there is SOMETHING for you to learn here, so put your big girl parties on, and learn it. The shock when I ran into a teacher who actually had thong I needed to learn – and I had to struggle and get help was salutary in the extreme.

      But I did once get pulled completely out of a class because the evidence was in my favor: It really was a complete enstupidifying waste of time.

    4. I was a genuinely horrible child. Yes, the “give me a reason” type, but my bar was high, and I’d disqualify you the first time you said something genuinely BONE stupid.Even though as I know now, even smart adults do that on occasion.
      I don’t wonder so many teachers tried to destroy me.
      I’m shocked some didn’t.

      1. If somebody else is dealing with one of those kids, a version that got through to me (most were individual and from folks who actually knew how my brain “works”):
        “Jesus Christ Himself picked a howler of a bad choice who sold him out– exactly who can hold up to your standards? You?”

  5. Having had bosses for much of my working life, particularly when I was younger, self-employment was a no-brainer. Because like Dave, I was That Kid.

    Having customers is much better. They make the order, you do the job, they pay you, AND THAT’S IT! No social niceties BS, just money. Maybe a reference if they like the job you did.

    In my personal experience, -starving- as a self-employed dude is better than a regular paycheck working for some random Normie a-hole. It really is. Because customers are not the boss. -I- am the boss. They take what I give them, and they pay the money. If I do a crap job, no money. Pretty simple. Just the way I like it. Because at 64, I am still That Kid.

    As an author I face the same problems I do as a house painter or a physical therapist. I have to -do- the work, and I have to -sell- the work. Always been pretty good at the doing part. So-so at the selling part. Therefore no vast rush of cash like JK Rowling. But on the bright side, no nervous breakdown and no ulcer. Which is better than many, many Normies of my acquaintance.

    Because money cannot buy you a new stomach. You only get one, so take care of it. ~:D

      1. You mean where they change the job in the middle? Customers can’t do that to authors. They either buy the finished thing, or they don’t. It sits there until somebody buys it.

        Publishers do that. They say “we need a gay character, a black character and a trans character, and you have to change this chapter because the boss’s cousin read it and said it was no good.”

        That’s why I don’t work for them. ~:D

          1. “Can you make this side more… exciting?”

            “Yes. For FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS I can make it more exciting. Paid in advance, of course. Or we can stick to your original specification and original two hundred dollar price.”

            And that is why we always get it in writing. ~:D

              1. I’ve been a house painter. I’ve seen people change their minds on colours. I’ve seen them change it back when the bill for the original paint is mentioned, and the price for the new colour and re-paint gets added up.

  6. “Having customers is much better. They make the order, you do the job, they pay you, AND THAT’S IT! No social niceties BS, just money. Maybe a reference if they like the job you did.”

    Yep. So much better.

  7. I’m a rule follower for the most part. I’m also a bit oppositional-defiant and LIKE playing devil’s advocate. I did well in school, but there were times I got into a wee bit o’ trouble because I just couldn’t see X+Y+Z was supposed to get me to ORANGE. This was especially problematic when I already knew doing M+N could get me to ORANGE in fewer steps.

    I drive my wife crazy sometimes. But I keep it in check for the most part. I almost let my freak flag fly last month with the school district, though. Between no lockers for the kids (later changed to issuing lockers) and requiring face masks while exercising in gym (somewhat modified in that they have two levels of physical activity defined now so that high level stuff doesn’t require a mask) I was getting ready to start taking time off and raising hell with not only the school but the district as well. This would have put my wife in the uncomfortable position of working for people I would be yelling at and telling them they’re either ignorant or stupid.

  8. I want to have a job and be left to do it. This makes the whole independent writer thing difficult because I am a terrible boss. Perfectionist and demanding of good work without excuses. But, wanting to learn more so I can get more good work done.

    (ADD and social anxiety and similar things don’t help any, either.)

    And, I’m particular about my work environment. Six months of being at home has made it a cast iron bitch to get stuff done because of where my desktop work computer is. No other good place to put it, either. (It’s the Parent’s TV habits-CNN or daytime talk shows. I really want to nuke Atlanta and Manhattan now. Nobody would have a problem if I put a W-78 right at ground level on the CNN HQ?)

    I should be getting more done, I know it. I just have to accept that I’m working as fast as I can and that I will have a freshman and sophomore book…and hopefully I will be able to have enough time to work to get past those humps.

    There’s a lot to learn…and…once I get past the frustration, I am enjoying learning about it.

  9. A bit off topic – I do some (well, rather a lot post for on arch an, now) pro-bono work, and I agree with Mr. Freer, it’s an odd mix of “these are my bosses” – but only if I want ’em!

    So since you’re the only ones who’ll appreciate this, I am really tickled pink. I culturally appropriated a whole new style of art for a pb project, and *nailed it*. Go me! Even the flaws I see in it don’t make me unhappy with how it turns out.

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