The Very Long Game

Back when I started writing professionally, I was warned repeatedly of the dangers of “writer mind” and “writer think.”

In context this was warning me about creating fantasies about what editors were doing, thinking or plotting behind my back. I think so at least, because all older writers had this bizarre idea that we, younger writers, took every little sign of disfavor, or stupidity on the publisher’s side as meaning they hated us and were out to destroy us.

I remember an older colleague thinking so and making fun of me “oh, it’s because he hates you and wants to destroy your career” when I was very upset at an editor blowing off his meeting with me. Which struck me as bizarre, as my main upset was that I couldn’t leave the hotel lobby until I was sure this guy wasn’t going to show up later and be mad at me. In retrospect, given connections, I wonder if colleague knew something? Ah well, it doesn’t matter.

I didn’t need that warning. In fact, honestly, I probably should have been a little more paranoid. But I’m not good at hidden stuff or people who are friends to my face while stabbing me in the back. In fact, it usually takes a 2×4 with rusty nails in it to convey something not stated in voice. No, I’m not on the spectrum. Probably. I mean maybe on the very low end of the spectrum for science fiction. I’m just kind of impatient with implications and hints and such. You know, it’s probably PTSD from four years in an all-girls high school. It will do it to you.

Anyway, the point is that’s not the “writer mind” that causes a problem. And TBF the second kind of writer mind has infected practically everyone. Yesterday I had to talk a friend down from “the Republic is gone and now we’re going to be an empire.” Because of course we know how Rome went, and tada! we’re Rome. Btw, “The US is Rome in the decadence” was a stupid (very stupid) agit prop tidbit of the SovUnion which for some reason Americans ate with a spoon. Sure, there are some similar trends, because we’re human and when humans are relatively rich, the same vices surface, but yeah no. Actually the USSR was close to that, including the fact that the ‘decadence’ really only affected the upper classes.

In fact, the USSR was closer to the Roman Empire than we are or will ever be, because, you know, they were a parasitical society only able to survive by continuously invading/looting others.

And this is the same with the supposed “American Empire.” Yes, the founding fathers tried to mold us on an idealized Roman Republic. Sort of kind of, because English common law fell in, etc. So Rome ended up being mostly smell, not real.

But we are not Rome. Even accounting for the difference in times, Americans are not Imperialists (And Romans were from the start, even in the Republic.) Hell, Americans aren’t even colonialists. Not in the sense of going and conquering other lands and occupying them. We more tend to go, break things, rebuild, and then leave.

As for an American Empire…. well, socialism always requires expansionism. But expansionism only works if the other countries can FEED and provide for the motherland. Right now? After covidiocy? we couldn’t find even a continent that could feed and provide for Americans a tenth as well as we live now. An Empire. 5 minutes, tops.

But people think in stories. And in patterns. And mostly the patterns are on superficial things. Like “Well, the founders studied Rome and used structures kind of like.”

This is a problem right now, as we all know — who know real history — how free societies fell to communism. And we’re running along with it, and falling in despair.

The left meanwhile is all about these scripts, and they really really really don’t understand the differences between societies, the differences between technologies and/or that people have agency at all.

So of course, they think they’re now in power forever, having frauded themselves in.

But of course, that’s not how any of this works.

Last week, during our cannon ball run across the country (again) we stopped at Hutchinson KS for the cosmosphere. This (grumble) detour was the price owed to younger son for going with us and helping us drive. Okay, he didn’t demand it, but we did it because it makes him all happy. (Parents are weird, okay?)

The cosmosphere is kind of like church to him, which meant he spent a lot of time reading everything and laying down on the floor to see under exhibits.

Meanwhile I walked around and thought, a lot.

Do you know that the Nazis lasted less than a dozen years? Yes, communist regimes lasted longer, but that was because they had support, witting and unwitting from the US. No? well, guys, we FED the USSR. Without it, the starvation would have been EPIC as would have the revolt. As for China, bah, we’ve been allowing them to get away with murder for decades. Allowing them to rob us blind. And even then, all they can maintain is luxurious living for the tiny elites, while the majority of the population live lives that would make our medieval peasants scream.

Totalitarianism is by nature parasitic. It can’t survive unless it has something to leech off of. The idiot left thinks the US can go socialist and retain all its wealth, which means “it can feed world communism.” That’s why they’ve worked so hard to capture us.

Remember what I said? They think people have no agency. They also think wealth is kind of magical and flows to certain areas.

If the US goes full on socialist (and they’re going to try) most of the world starves and we have nowhere to leech off of, even now, much less then. Prognosis “The left dies screaming.” My guess is within two to three years because these things always take longer than we expect.

And yeah, the rebuild will be a dangerous time, and a pure bitch, but it will happen. We’re not imperialists, but we’ve rebuilt a lot of countries. We can do it.

However, everyone is running around convinced of the script that gives communists a 1000 year reign. It’s not true. It’s writer/reader mind. Snap out of it. And prepare for the years of pure suckage ahead. And for the rebuild which will also hurt like living hell.

I won’t see the other side of this, but G-d willing a lot of you will, and so will your kids and grandkids.

Be not afraid.

Oh, and on the Cosmosphere: Man’s journey to space has been a mess. And it might not have happened without the horrors of the Nazis.

Grandma would say “G-d writes straight upon crooked lines.” However, speaking more secularly, there is this: humans are curious apes and as a species we colonize. Heck, all life forms on Earth colonize or die.

Space? we will get there. And our descendants will be more numberless than the sands in the sea and cover every planet that’s habitable and some that shouldn’t be.

It’s just going to take a while, and have a lot of setbacks. And some of the ways things happen will be counterintuitive. But we will get there. Because we’re stubborn apes.

Again, I might not see it, but my descendants will.

Be not afraid. Go light a candle. Go work. All is not lost. We will survive this. Liberty will live on, despite all attempts to snuff it out. And humans will live and strive and thrive.

Now stop reading my babble and go work.

29 thoughts on “The Very Long Game

  1. Perhaps its wishful thinking about Rome. After all, the early empire was better for the average citizen than the late republic: less danger of random political violence.

    1. I know little about Rome (probably lots compared to the general public, but little compared to the crowd here), but as I understand it, there was a vast difference between Rome and its immediate environs and the rest of the empire. This only intensified when the Eastern Empire split off and Byzantium became “the” center of the empire. The “random political violence” was a capital city thing, not an empire wide thing.

  2. At the start of your post about what editors do (behind closed doors) I immediately thought of Piers Anthony and a cheap throwaway paperback he wrote called ‘But What of Earth’ back in 1976. The first edition is not the one you want.

    You want the second one, published by Tor in 1989. It’s got an illustration of Piers on the cover holding a cheap paperback with post-it notes stuck to it. You can get a copy at abebooks for $4.

    Why this version? It’s got two sections. The original text and then the entire second half of the book consists of the five (5!) editors’ notes that somehow Piers ended up with. You’ll need two bookmarks. One for Piers and one for the unbelievably extensive notes about each paragraph — each sentence! — that editors one through five tore apart and Piers’ notes on the same. They used different color inks and pencils to ensure you knew who was how. They argued with each other on occasion. I have never seen anything like it.

    My husband, former newspaper copyeditor, was astonished and appalled. We took turns reading it on a road trip to Florida so we had four bookmarks in the paperback (a set for each of us).

    Editorial idiocy in the extreme and it was in the service of a cheap throwaway paperback!

    1. I should show you my editorial notes on Through Fire. Only reason I haven’t published them is to protect the guilty.
      The book was delayed twice and lost all pre-orders because the editor a) thought the main character of that book was Athena, and thought she was behaving so strangely that no one would buy anymore of my books if that was published. (For those who haven’t read it, considering the mess that publication was — np, will come out in reedition early 21 — it’s not Athena, but her sister in law, Zenobia, a completely different person.
      b) wanted Zen to LEAD the future equivalent of the French revolution. Because principles be damned, right?
      Editors are….. special. And we didn’t use to have an escape from them.

      1. I’m guessing your editor didn’t actually *read* your book, merely skimmed it looking to slash and burn to justify his/her salary.

        How many editors edit because they’ve tried telling a story and can’t manage to hold the audience’s interest? Or even finish the darn thing?

        1. I’ve found that it is -extremely- difficult to get anyone to read your book. Unless they buy it themselves, they fricking flat-out won’t. This includes friends, relatives, random strangers, you name it. My brother finally read it. Didn’t hate it either, so yay me!

          People who are supposed to read it, because they’re being paid to, also won’t read it. The one time I had a professional look at one of my books, they skimmed the first chapter and not much more. Not unprofessional of them, to be clear, but surprising to me. I thought they’d want to read it. Silly me.

          Paying somebody to read a book is like paying them to shovel dirt. They don’t want to do it, so you better check to make sure they did. Check the dirt pile for shovel marks.

          1. I do get fans to give me early reads. The problem is finding the ones whose critique isn’t “you misspelled this word” (and nine times out of then, it’s actually world-lingo.)

            1. I admit that as a former proofreader, I’m always proofreading everything I read. What’s bad is when I see mistakes in stuff written for supposedly professional news organizations.

          2. I’ve done academic pre-reviews [slush pile] reading. There are some great things out there, and one that as I put it “the guts are there, but there’s no skeleton to hold the body of the monograph together.” The boss editor said that he had the same sense, and IIRC wrote a very encouraging and detailed refusal with a request to resubmit after rewrite. Now, I only read in my field, and what I was reading for were very specific things. I did it as professional service, not because I was paid.

  3. I was totaling up my book sales this year and moaning a little. I . . . didn’t do as well as I wanted to. Now, part of this is only having one series “live” at the moment. Yes, the long tail is still selling books, but not as many as before. Part might be the most recent algorithm shifts at the ‘Zon, part might be the Oct-Jan slump in an election year. HOWEVER – the long tail is still selling, and people are still buying my stuff, just not as much as I’d hoped back when I was making almost four digits a month.

  4. everyone is running around convinced of the script that gives communists a 1000 year reign. It’s not true
    Agreed. I’d be surprised by 10, let alone 100.
    My guess is within two to three years because these things always take longer than we expect.
    Disagree. I don’t remember the source, but “there is a lot of ruin in a nation”. It took far longer than three years to wreck Venezuela. The US is in a much, much better starting position.

    The wild-card is our massive debt. At some point, people will stop buying it. I don’t see any way to predict that in advance (I would have stopped, already). When it happens, the fall will be FAST. On the bright side, the Feds own a LOT of real assets that can be sold (I just noticed a full city block post office building in a popular neighborhood [near Whole Foods on Washington and I-25 for Denver folks]; that’s easily a few 10s of millions for one tiny little piece of property in one small city).

    1. A note on sovereign debt: I work in the financial industry and when Germany first started selling bonds with negative interest rates, I asked experts why on Earth anyone would buy one. Most of us do not understand the VAST amounts of money involved. If you have $200 million in cash (or cash-equivalents), what do you DO with it? You do NOT leave it sitting in a bank because it will not sit in the bank; the bank will do something with it. So, you may as well do something with it yourself. If you need/want it back in fairly short time frame (say two years), it’s not worth the expense of chopping it into blocks and investing in a bunch of different things then having to liquidate all those various things to get the cash back. You want to put it somewhere as a single chunk. There is not much available other than sovereign debt. KNOWING you will get it back is worth a premium – hence the negative interest rate. Also note that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. The big boy ($200 million and up) investors are already getting (at least near) negative real returns on US debt, despite the positive nominal rate because inflation is higher than the interest rate.

    2. NORMALLY it would take 10 years, sure. And NORMALLY–
      But after the Covidiocy? When we’d only just recovered from Obamadiocy? We’re in bad shape and the anger is high.
      2 or 3 years, tops.
      Also, please note, our idiots are exponentially dumber than Venezuela’s.

      1. our idiots are exponentially dumber
        LOL. We’re #1!!!

        As an aside, are they really “idiots” and “dumb” or just focused on the wrong thing? From an “I’m getting mine while I can” perspective, their behavior isn’t _always_ “dumb”, just remarkably self-centered and short-term.
        Releasing the dogs of Antifa was dumb. Topping my list of 2021 popcorn time is going to be watching the repeated attempts to stuff that genie back in its bottle.

        1. Focusing on the wrong thing is dumb, though what is “wrong” is always a subject of great debate.

          Hyperbolic future discount is always dumb unless you have sound reason to think that your near term future is unreliable.

  5. I remember an older colleague thinking so and making fun of me “oh, it’s because he hates you and wants to destroy your career” when I was very upset at an editor blowing off his meeting with me. Which struck me as bizarre, as my main upset was that I couldn’t leave the hotel lobby

    This strikes me as what TVTropes called a “Suspiciously Specific Denial.”

    They also think wealth is kind of magical and flows to certain areas.

    And this bit reminds me of the covidiots who believe that “The government just needs to pay people not to work, and then all the economic problems of the pandemic will go away.” As in, if you really believe this, I don’t know where I should even begin to argue with you.

    1. “As in, if you really believe this, I don’t know where I should even begin to argue with you.”

      I used to think that. When I was like 8 years old, I thought that the government and the bank had all the money, and they were just being mean not to give my Mum more of it. Pretty subtle and pervasive propaganda campaign they had in the early 1960s pushing that, if an 8 year old was thinking it.

      When I finally got my first job and discovered where the government -actually- gets their money, it was extremely shocking. All that good Communist propaganda hit the concrete bridge abutment of Reality and burst into flames. Because my first job SUCKED and I hated it so bad, that seeing even a penny of that money taken away really hit home. Kapow.

      You meet an adult who says they think that, they’ve got some kind of agenda going on. Usually trade unionists, if my experience is anything to go by. The Company is always screwing them out of their just reward.

  6. About the west feeding communists… It isn’t just wheat and soybeans. Right now China is trying to punish Australia for not kissing butt politically by refusing to buy their coal. While some people in Australia may be laid off or lose their jobs they aren’t sitting in the dark at home because the local power plant has no coal and the factory where they work has no more power than their home.
    If all trade and commerce stopped right now between the west and China, we’d have shortages of consumer items, some drugs, and electronics…. There would be shortages before we recovered and started making our own again or continued the trend to buy from other countries. They would starve and freeze. People usually get nasty when they are hungry and cold. They go out and assault the people who make the state work at the local level.

  7. However, everyone is running around convinced of the script that gives communists a 1000 year reign. It’s not true.

    It’ll just feel like 1000 years.

  8. It seem to me that we are at the point of no return now. We just had the most corrupt election in our history and the media, leftists, blm, and democrats all yawn. They are happy to see the failure of America. We are much like the book “Atlas Shrugged” where the makers left and the takers could not survive. The “people” are ignorant of economics and history and think everything will continue as. Sadly, the hard times are coming soon.

  9. Communists understand damn well that the economic system they wish to impose will destroy the national economy and produce massive hardships and suffering upon the citizenry.
    Communists do NOT CARE !!!!!
    What matters to them is attaining and maintaining absolute power. That is it. These goals are the ONLY thing that motivates the communist.
    Why the F is this so hard to understand ???

    Look at all the communist nations past and present. The ruling elites lived just fine, oft times like royalty. After all, they literally owned everything within their borders. The fact that some of their citizens were dying of starvation meant nothing to the elites. They did not care !!!!

    What I do not understand is how any sentient human actually believes that communists really do not understand economics. Given the history of communist governed nations, past and present, it is absolutely clear that what motivates and drives communists is power and authority.
    Nothing more, nothing less.
    Just power.

    Communists know EXACTLY what the are doing, and what the outcome of their success will be. They are truly evil, sinister people.
    You cannot negotiate with them or reason with them.
    All you can do is kill them. ALL OF THEM.
    Because if you do not, they will kill you.

  10. Year ago I read a blog comment by a Marine colonel. He said he was working somewhere in the Mideast with a Russian officer. The Russian officer followed American politics and was very alarmed that America might go communist or socialist. He said the colonel thought this would be a world disaster. “Where would we go?” he asked. “Where would we turn to?”

  11. Ape? Speak for yourself. That said honestly we are young country running on a grand experiment. It was good while it lasted but honestly a bit shocked we have gone this long without another civil war or revolution. I am not advocating such because I know even if the very best choice won we would not see a reset back to where we started. Even with best intentions someone is going to say “Yeah but it will be better if we…”

  12. Splee Czech: There’s a blog I read 6 days a week, and I read each one, and e-mail him all the lines with errors. I sent him one this morning, and mentioned that, DANG, I had one,TOO.

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