Hey, i have bad news

No, these are seriously bad news.

So, you want to be a writer? Well, you’re gonna have to do the work.

Yeah, I know, sucks, right? Because you’ve had these stories in your head forever, and you want to be able to just dream them onto the page, and then everyone will come and shower you with gold and praise.

I’ve known many people with that idea of the writing life. I don’t know a single one who is successful. Not. A. Single. One.

Even the ones who are amazingly successful in their first book, because they have natural talent such that they barely need to work at it, and their books however flawed are still great reads, have failed. And those are very, very rare, so don’t go dreaming you’re one of them.

I will admit that young Sarah, who was in many ways a complete fool also thought this way. “I’ll publish my first novel, and people will be amazed at my talent.”

I did not have any natural talent. Or if I did, it was completely obscured by my lack of craft. But, having grown up amid largely uncreative people (as most of us do, because they are a majority) I thought I was a special unicorn and that the rambling, unstructured stories I made up were stunning and would attract everyone’s praise and money.

You’re allowed to think that way when you’re in your teens or a very young early twenties. You’re not allowed to stick with it forever though.

I mean, look at this special, special snowflake:

I’m reading that and thinking “uh. What will you actually do with your life? I mean, you’re not avoiding the grave, if you think that’s what you’re doing.”

As for sleeping for 2 hours. Other than being fricking nuts, what the heck is she saying? Because you know what? There are times you will sleep 2 hours. Granted, those are rare, because if you do that very long, it will kill you in no time. But there are times.

Just the other day, a friend whose child slept through the night for the first time told me “I had no idea how tired I was.”

Because if you have a baby, you’re going to sleep in two hour increments, for a time. If on top of that you’re trying to have a career (and you need that, to pay the taxes the government levies on families), you’re going to spend year sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night.

Is it good for you? Well, hell no. Don’t advise. Contains live bobcat, will not order again. My hyperactive self had never understood why sloth was a sin (aren’t sins supposed to be enjoyable?) until I hit the time in my life when I went to bed at midnight, still finishing chores, and was up at four thirty am. to write for three hours before the kids awakened.

Then once a month or so, Dan and I went to Denver, with the kids, and stayed in Embassy Suites. We didn’t have a TV at home, so the kids would wake up and be riveted to cartoons. And we slept. Oh, how we slept. Some weekends we barely did anything else. And it was glorious.

Again, I wouldn’t advise it.

But I want to point everyone I know, in whatever industry, doing whatever goes through a phase of working their asses off. Or at least they do if they want to amount to anything and end up better off in their middle years.

The “grind” is not the way to fame and fortune, alas. It’s just the way to get better, so you have a shot at supporting yourself with a modicum of security.

And before I hear any bullshit about capitalism or how terrible it is for humans, put a sock in it. Marx could have written that post up there. He went through life being a grifter extraordinare. Oh, sure, you can do that too, you just won’t be worth shit. And he of course projected outward and thought all humans were like him, and it was all a con game.

The only sorry thing, historically, is that Marx wasn’t beaten to death with a wet sock, so it lasted longer and he suffered more.

This morning I was reading a book going on about the plight and horror of workers in early industrial societies working 14 hours a day. F*cking idiots, pardon my Scroladian. People who write that bullshit are unmaking society and need to beaten to death with socks. Or at least be shaken until they have no teeth and come to their senses.

Because you know what? I grew up in a household in which only dad had a “real” job. I.e., he went out in the morning, came home in the evening. 12 to 14 hours for most of his life, and 6 hours on Saturday. He had the softest job in the household.

Grandma was by the time I knew her “a housewife.” (She had had a job when the kids were younger. Where she found the time heaven only knew, but she hand assembled and painted boxes for cosmetics. Poorly paid piecemeal work, but it was the depression and she wanted her kids to eat, I guess.) Which means she planted, weeded and harvested our backyard farm, with minimal help from the rest of us, looked after the “creation” — i.e. animals — and cleaned the house and did laundry with no modern conveniences.

Oh, and before some brainless twat who thinks that agricultural work is some kind of sinecure comes to say “oh, but they rested in winter” — put another sock in it. In winter, provident agricultural workers mended their tools, made new ones, and did some kind of work they could trade for what they could not make. Be it preserving food (a lot of it) or taking care of things shoved out of the way by the urgency of the planting season. (Sometimes for other people.)
Farmers who didn’t do this were known as “indigent” “on the parish rolls” or “Them people over there who are wastes of space.” Aka “Undeserving poor.”

I invite any snowflake who thinks that was an easy life to put a sock in it. You have no idea what people did to survive. NONE.

And before you start bleating about injustice and greed, let me point out injustice is what Uyghurs in Chinese slave camps suffer so you can have your i-pod and such abundance that you think you shouldn’t have to work, and should spend your days just enjoying yourself.

Working? Working is what humans do to survive. It’s what mice and cats and ants do to survive too. Ask any biology. Looking at a new plant or animal, they ask “how does it earn its living.”

But, you’ll say, writing is art. And art is inherently valuable.

Ah! Put two socks in it.

We are fortunate and highly privileged in relation to our ancestors, and owing to their insane labor that gave us enough surplus, that people like me (and some of you) can support themselves by working inside, in the soft, without having to root, hog or die. But that’s a rare situation, and an amazing one.

And one btw that will be forever lost if the idiots who think any work is wrong and they’re here on an extended vacay become a majority.

And I don’t want to hear it either, that inventing the electrical light made people work more. Grandma mended clothes by oil lamp, which can’t have been good for her eyesight. So did every other woman, because clothes were expensive, because machines were not that great and didn’t produce as much as we do now.

So, if you want to work inside and in the soft, set your mind to it that it’s going to be a lot of relentless work. Oh, not as much as your grandmother did. Not as much as her grandmother did, for sure. And it’s inside, and in the soft, and you have machines.

But you have to learn your trade, which means reading and analyzing what you read. (I’d read countless hours a day since the age of four, and yet my mind was virgin of structure, until I diagrammed plots. And I had no clue of the tricks of presenting a character well or badly until I studied that too. And let me tell you that you could do a lot worse than read Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Then study it. It will help. I promise.)

And then you have to practice, practice, practice.

Yeah, that might mean sleeping five hours a night, for a while. I really don’t advise two hours. Though I assume that’s what Larry Correia did, when he was working full time, looking after small kids, and writing his first book. Yes, he got “lucky” with his first book. But from what I understand that “luck” was the result of working hundreds and hundreds of hours on his craft. Uphill. Both ways. Let me quote another bestseller friend on that “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Which is true. And if you don’t put in the work, amazingly, luck never hits.

Now, you can put in the work and never get it back — talk to Dave Freer and me at times — but at least you make enough to survive, and if you’re still alive you might still get lucky.

And yes, indie means working just as hard at writing and, as Amanda Green talks about in her posts all the time, studying the trends, the new ways to do things, the covers, the–

What? You think trad is easier? Good Lord. You’re a sheep, waiting to be fleeced. In trad you have to do the writing, study the trends, study the editors, figure out which house steals less, (they all steal. And a lot of it, honestly is through tradition and incompetence, but where do you think those political graft advances come from?) get stuck with whatever cover they give you and be ready to promote, promote, promote, for which you need to know the market.

You’re human. You’re born to strife and work.

Maybe there is a sweet ever after, by and by. I don’t know. I am a believer, but I’m not good at imagining eternal life. What would you do with it? If everything is perfect, why be there?

Humans work. That’s what we do.

Everyone I know who is miserable and makes other miserable is like the person above, drifting through life, wanting to get away with doing nothing.

A life is an awful thing to waste. Don’t let that be you.

70 comments

  1. There is hard work you hate, hard work you endure, and for some, hard work you love. There IS no ‘not hard work.’ Maybe if you inherited money and chose to become a drone.
    I picked brain work over muscle work, and was able to do my job inside air conditioning. It takes an amazing amount of technology to make something like that possible.

      1. Shouldn’t that be, “love,” lass? Work I hate to do, I’m tired of almost out of box.

    1. Only writer I know of who supposedly inherited wealth is Larry Niven; and AFAIK he worked hard in college to learn the basics, and worked hard after that to become a decent writer. And you can still see his improvement curve from his first published works to his latter ones.

      1. Well, and it’s the “know of” that’s the important part, isn’t it? For better or worse, writers who do nothing but live on their families money only produce a book or two, if they even manage that, and it doesn’t tend to be all that good. So, they’re largely unknown and undiscovered and the world will never know of their genius but goodness are they loud and obnoxious while they’re about it.

        1. Sorry, but my source for that was the late Jerry Pournelle. It’s tangentially supported by the Wikipedia article on Edward L Doheny. Point is, inheriting wealth doesn’t automatically make someone a parasitic drone. A lot depends on when and how they have access to that wealth; as well as how they are raised by their parents.

          1. I think we’re talking at cross purposes. I know a lot of people who have inherited money or are otherwise supported by well-meaning families so they don’t have to work. Most of them have very little actual connection to reality or what work is and required. The ones that do are very aware of what’s required to succeed in their chosen fields. And yes, how they’re raised makes a very large difference. That goes for writers, engineers, comedians, really anybody that wants to do anything creative.

    2. Yup. I think that hands-down, the most intense patch of work that I did was in the military – and yes, inside and air conditioned for the most part, because the necessary tech could not be allowed to over heat, was a stretch at the broadcast det in Greenland, when I covered a pair of twelve-hour long shifts for a couple of months, running both the radio and television stations, including a live radio show, taping another show for later broadcast, simultaneously, and then spending another eight hours running back and forth between the radio studio and the TV control room. There was a right-hand dog-leg in the corridor between them – I told the program director that I wished to have a kind of vertical bar installed, so that I could swing around that corner at full speed. Racked up a lot of twelve-hour days later on, too – mercifully running only one broadcast outlet at a time, though.

      Oh, and that precious widdle flower you cited is probably the most obnoxious and useless employee around. Guarantee it.

      1. What I’m always faintly astonished at are those who expend HUGE amounts of energy in avoiding doing their jobs. More energy, in fact, than they would expend by, you know, actually doing their jobs. I do not get it.

        1. Had a few of those in my old job and in the current one and it always is mind-boggling to see. And irritating when you have to rely on them for something, the inevitable happens, you have to fix if yourself, and of course the boss thinks it’s entirely your fault…

  2. I’ve been seeing a lot of whining on the interwebs recently about “it’s so stupid that our culture only values endless work and earning capital.” And while on some things I agree that the work culture could stand to look at thinking outside the box (though most of it, after thinking hard, I’m not sure how they could, in a realistic manner), generally speaking…what the hell do they think they’re going to pay their bills/buy their food/clothes/etc with?!?! Oh, right, most of the ones whinging about having to work for a living would prefer all those things be given to them, and likely are big supporters of “universal income” where apparently the money just magically and spontaneously comes into being, and isn’t actually taken from people who are ACTUALLY working for a living… ::stomps off grumbling bad words::

    1. On the one hand, /not/ going after the 60+ hour work week positions that are executive track, and spending time with family makes a certain amount of sense. With thrift, a smaller income can go far enough, without thrift the largest income in the world disappears. Choosing to value the things others appear to value, instead of carefully learning what really matters to you, is a mistake.

      On the other hand, I am lazy, have trouble making myself do even the things I should have the time and energy to do, and if something is worth doing, it should be worth putting in the time and effort to learn to do it properly. Some skillsets really do take a period of deep obsession, or a great deal of constant work, before things really start to make sense. Quite a lot of things are much harder to do then they seem when you first learn about the skill, and it takes much work before you really understand what you are in for. Okay, this doesn’t conflict with the first point if you are careful about setting your learning goals.

      Gripping hand, socialists are barbarians, communism is an evil religion, and it is not clear to me whether we should treat the opinions of such as having any weight. As in, ‘listening to them’, ‘refusing to listen to them’, and ‘killing them’ are on a spectrum of possible options, and I am in the middle of rethinking carefully my preferences.

      1. Oh, I am with you 1000% there. I work to live, I don’t live to work. I don’t hate my job, but it is something I do to pay my bills, nothing more. I’m interested in a promotion to a slightly higher pay grade, but I have zero desire to ever be a manager. I want time for family and pets and hobbies. And the happy pills mean that I’m finally having a desire to do the hobbies again, hooray (ie, I feel like I have more energy…which is good, because my dog is FAT and needs regular walking, and I feel like doing that again, lol).

        But work is necessary. It’s just reality, and I’m having a hard time grokking all these idiots–some of whom aren’t all that young, and really ought to have learned better by now–whining about how they shouldn’t have to. Because they have no idea, I guess, where anything from food to clothing to shelter actually comes from, nor do they grasp that if it doesn’t come from people being compensated for their work to produce these things, it’s coming from slaves.

        1. I’m with both of you there, too, since I’d go crazy without my decompression time (which is why lapsing into scheduled overtime grinds my gears so bad even with the extra money – whiny of me, I know, but still). I’m definitely burned out on this one, though, but I’m hesitant to look for another for a lot of reasons related to possible moves and not having a bloody clue what my next step should be, or perhaps I should be thinking more along the lines of what’s possible. And of course I’m right there with both of you about how utterly vile Marxism is, too.

    2. “Earning capital” in my world is saving up the financial resources needed to develop the next good thing in life. Even my financial counselor doesn’t understand that concept. He’s great at investments, but even 20 years later he thinks I’m saving for a retirement where I kick back and do nothing. He can’t conceive of my taking on my 5th or 6th career move. Or even going to college for a real degree in physics or biochemistry.

      1. I suspect I will work until I die, or close to it 😀

        One week. I just want ONE week where I don’t *have* to do anything I don’t really want to do. Sleep and eat, that’s what I want to do for ONE WEEK,

  3. How about the one who complained that the bookstores were stocking Tokein “and other dead authors” who were outselling her?

    1. Heh. I suspect there’s many, including those the non-writer crowd, that could hold that she’s not terribly good if she’s bellyaching so…

  4. :blinks at the picture/quote:
    Chica, Millenials, GenZ and even GenX with a smattering of Boomers are Hustle Culture.

    A hint would be that this relatively new term was invented to describe what non-losers are doing to make ends meet.

    Look at your sample for what those generations are “collectively” doing, consider the variable in that sample {looks meaningfully at said chica} and consider that your conclusion may not be universally valid.

  5. In order for you to eat, somebody has to work. A whole lot of somebodies, in fact. Farmers, truckers, millers, grocers and all the other folks who make their jobs possible. If you eat, but do not work, you are a freeloading parasite hanging off the backs of people far better than yourself.

    The great thing about mechanization and industrialization is that work becomes far more productive. More value is created from the same quantity of labor. That is why we are so much richer than cave men, or medieval serfs. It’s why our ‘poor’ have electricity, indoor plumbing, modern medicine and iPhones. Anybody from the last 200,000 years would give an arm and a leg to switch places with our ‘poor’.

    And a lot of our ‘poor’ would deserve to find out what life was like 80,000 years ago.
    ———————————
    Those who do not remember the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes. Those who do remember are doomed to watch everybody else repeat them.

  6. I would love to introduce this special millennial snowflake to my son, the millennial. He just texted me that he’s working a shift alone at his Cracker Barrel. Meaning he’s the cook -I hope he doesn’t have to serve it, too. And he’s the shift leader. If she had to work his time she’d faint dead away.

    1. My brother is a kitchen manager at Applebees–and just about the only responsible, reliable person there. To the point that, after finding his roommate dead in their apartment on Saturday he was worried he’d have to go in to work anyway, because the other manager had already called in sick (after he covered her shift that morning–before discovering said roommate–on account of her still being drunk. Then she called in sick instead of covering his shift, because she was hungover.).

      Thankfully, the general manager (who was on vacation. Again.) decided that finding one’s roommate (especially one you have known since you were both fourteen) dead and having to deal with the police and coroner et al trumped being hungover, and told him to take as much time as he needed. I hope he does, and also continues with his plans to go to school and get a job in something less insane. Or at least with better hours (he doesn’t even get overtime, because he’s management).

      But even setting aside the unusually dramatic events of this weekend–him being the ONLY one to cover everyone else’s shifts is par for the course in that industry. No one wants to work, but someone else has to do their work in addition to their own…

      1. Aw, geez, that stinks. Keep an eye on him. A lot of times the hard workers are the ones who are taking it harder than other people know, although sometimes having a lot of work during grief is a blessing.

        1. My parents went driving out to Nebraska just as fast as they could about ten minutes after he got off the phone with him, and spent through yesterday morning with him. He’s doing okay–he’s still in the ‘really, really angry with his buddy for being such an idiot’ phase (buddy was addicted to huffing canned air. Cops said there might also have been some crack in the mix). He was tentatively planning to go see some other mutual friends of theirs, so if he does hopefully they can remember the good things about him, and not just the dumpster fire he’d made of his life the last several years, sigh.

          And I’m very pleased with the police department in that little city in Nebraska: after they’d wrapped up their initial investigation/search of the apartment, and the body had been taken away, they all took the time to give him a hug and tell him it was okay, and that it wasn’t his fault before they left. I’m seriously considering sending them a thank-you card for that–my brother has both severe anxiety AND a checkered history with the police (mutual hatred between him the cops in a couple of towns here in Wyoming, heh), so I’m really glad he came out of that horror-show with at least something positive.

        1. That is – entirely awful and shattering. I had the experience of going to work at one of my jobs a few years past and discovering my employer dead of a massive heart attack.
          Well, he had massive health issues … but it still was a horrible shock. Didn’t really hit me until very late that afternoon. My sympathies – it’s an unfortunate thing to go through, but it sounds as of the local people were really amazingly supportive. I found it was the same for me.

  7. He has a few points though. We are no longer under imminent catastrophe or a cold war, the millenials and generation Z should naturally have it better than the beginning of the 20th century.

    “Because if you have a baby, you’re going to sleep in two hour increments, for a time. If on top of that you’re trying to have a career (and you need that, to pay the taxes the government levies on families), you’re going to spend year sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night.”

    Why? Why can’t the market protect its career population’s child raising energy to raise better children? Then don’t complain when a country’s population goes old and the incoming migration cannot adapt (often Arabs are very hostile to the materialist infidel culture) and society goes downhill.

    Stop blaming the youth. Consider cooperating when them.

    And no, I hate communism. But I understand unrestrained market can only create misery.

    Back to praising hard work. Of course, being a writer will take *AGES* of writing and sharpening the proverbial blade to write good things.

    1. I’m not blaming the youth. I’m blaming the government. If they didn’t take massive amounts of money from young couples — which the government then eats or something — one parent not working SHOULD be doable.
      What I was pointing out, perhaps not too clearly is that the “hustle” culture the special snow flake is natering about has nothing to do with greed or getting rich. It has been imposed on several generations now, just to survive. And we ain’t gonna carry her likes no matter what the government is expropriating money for today.
      I’m sick and tired onto death of “I should be paid to do my art.” Well, no. Get good at it and you WILL be paid. Maybe not a ton, but you’ll be paid.

      1. I’m fairly certain they set it on fire. I just kinda wish they’d do it in a way I’d appreciate more. Maybe an annual bonfire in front of the Fed? Put it on pay-per-view and they might make enough to pay for all the other BS.

  8. This idiocy will pass. Sadly, it will be the hard way for a whole lot of folks and not just the deserving idiots.
    Nature bats last and she does not care about your feelings.
    Reality always bites and it bites very, very hard when it can no longer be denied.

  9. OK, now that you’ve stuffed socks everywhere, would you please return them to my dryer?
    Thanks!

  10. I remember the advice Robert A. Heinlein is reputed to have given an aspiring writer: “Tell the story.”

  11. I will take exception to some of your post, Sarah.

    People need rest days. In the past this was the Sabbath and Feast Days and various other things that broke up the day in and day out unrelenting horror of life.

    One of the biggest complaints I had about working retail was getting called in on my day off. To the point where I’ve done stretches of 14 hour days that went 72 days long. And they nearly killed me. I’ve had bosses that asked me to come in with flu, pneumonia, and unexplained bleeding that caused me to nearly bleed to death on the sales floor.

    You know the kinds of crazy hours I’ve worked over the last decade on top of trying to nurture a writing career that more resembled taking on a brick wall than anything else. Anything more than 5 hours of sleep a night was a luxury that we couldn’t afford. Quite frankly, I agree with her that working yourself to death is stupid. I’ve tried it. I’m not doing it again.

    Yes, there were times when if you didn’t get up and work those kinds of hours, your children would starve. These aren’t those times. Yes, Marxists tend to be lazy, whiny children. Drawing a boundary around your health, your family and your personal life into which your job cannot pass isn’t Marxism, it’s a smart way to keep yourself from dying of hypertension and/or depression.

    Yes, that picture might be argumentium absurdum (sp?) but I’ve actually been threatened with termination for not putting the company I worked for before my health and the health of my children. I’ve been pushed to violate OSHA regulations that, had I done so, would have resulted in my death. Pregnant and in the hospital for dehydration because my boss came by and threw away my water bottle and threatened to fire me if I brought another one into my workspace? Just proof I couldn’t handle the job. Yeah, that boss sucked but in my experience he’s been not only the norm but the kind of person who gets promoted. Companies don’t care if you work yourself to death or injury, just that you don’t do it in a way that can be proved to be their fault.

    Oh! And I’ve been excoriated for quitting my retail job now that I can support myself and my family with my writing because I walked away from the daily grind. If I could just put in a couple more years, they say, I’d have a whole lot more money saved up and be in a better position.

    No, if I just put in a couple more years, I’d be dead. Either from illness or by my own hand. And they’d replace me before the obituary was live.

    So, no, I actually don’t find that tweet to be all that offensive.

    1. I think the lack of context is a problem. Because I had to deal with a fellow grad student who claimed “self-care” and persuaded her mother to drive up from four states away to take care of the student’s puppy (student didn’t want to be bothered that week), then claimed to need “a me semester” and didn’t even bother buying the books. She sponged off the rest of us. So a lot of me agrees with you about the need to rest, and a lot of me reads Sarah’s words, thinks about some of the Horrible Warnings I’ve crossed paths with, and the rest of me wonders what the context of the tweet was. It works for either argument.

      1. And, does the tweeter have a solid understanding of the range of choices made by folks in past generations?

        What is meant by Hustle Culture? Short term effort into a plan is sound. Trying to do 110% forever is not. Hearsay is that work culture in some places can get more than a little too intense. YOu would hear sometimes about South Korean gamers dying during a binge, so maybe the working oneself to death stuff isn’t an exaggeration.

        1. The development I saw was roughly:
          can’t get full time job at entry level stuff=> so look for a “side hustle” or three, since part-time jobs are horrible about regular schedules that means stuff like being an uber driver or having an etsy shop, and managing your time effectively instead of always being late.
          Then Tesla guy tweeted that nobody changed the world at 40s a week (ie, changing the world is A LOT OF WORK).
          Then, suddenly, “hustle culture” was being a “workaholic” and “sacrificing yourself to schedules and deadlines.”
          Which completely ignored that the whole point of the “side hustle” is that it was under your control, when the main job was completely not.

          1. A lot of the time ‘changing the world’ is a bad goal, regardless of how much work it takes.

            An unusual CEO is often not a good person to have as a role model, or set expectations by. Unusual people are unusual, and you have less information about people you don’t know well. The person themself will have a skewed idea about what the extra things that made them successful are, and a lot of second hand reports will likewise have limited information and weird analytical biases. A more reliable way to collect information on success is to look at a lot of moderate performers. You are more likely to find a new thing that works for you, if you look at many people for stuff that works for a bunch of them.

            Fundamentally, people are different, jobs are different, and we all have different ideas of what success is.

            Small increments of change that lead to small increments of success are more practical to find, and easier to implement and test. If immediate circumstances, personality, and real goals are not the same, repeating exactly what someone else has done is unlikely to have the same results. Bits and pieces are easier to borrow, but then you have to make a coherent functioning whole yourself. Which is scary, and we rarely know how many failures at this other people had before they got to where they looked successful to others.

            People who change their thinking wildly based on a famous tweet are rarely useful guides to anything.

            1. Change the world is rather like “Spiritual,” isn’t it? “Demons are spirits, be more specific.”

              On the other hand, wisdom is where you find it, and the oddest things can plant the seed that does change folks’ minds.

              I find it instructive that they think someone knows enough to have become successful, and be good enough at PR to get a lot of attention, but when the idea that “changing the world” will involve a lot of work rolls out, it’s like throwing holy water at a charging vampire.

              The only “change the world” I’m a big supporter of is of the “show up for the future” flavor, and that definitely doesn’t fit in a 40 hour work-week. 😉

                  1. Lifts hand: I did too Because in my day we were tossing out ALL moral teachings and living by the wican precept “Do as you will, lest you harm none.”
                    took me years to figure out that’s actually impossible.

                    1. It’s kind of like who gets to count the votes in a pure democracy– who gets to define harm?

                      I’ve got a villain as a background character from an RPG who was VERY careful about harm. Drugging someone and abusing them wouldn’t be harm, though, unless physical damage took place. Deliberately breaking their mind, so long as no bruise, cut or broken bone resulted from their actions, wouldn’t be harm….

                      There’s a reason I kept that waaaaaay in the background, because I don’t want to play in that mind. Especially because I HAVE seen people who do the “only direct physical harm is harm” thing.

                    2. I once questioned someone about that and he got very angry because you should JUST KNOW whether it will do harm.

                1. Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurers by Henning Nelms. It’s a how-to-write book. Really. Recommended to me as such, and I recommend it to others as such.

              1. Well, in terms of changing the world, one small personal choice at a time, putting in a forty hour week can be a change.

                When I was a kid, I heard a speaker talk about the forms of leadership that are less obvious. Not being the President or the CEO or the boss, but more like showing up early and getting the tools ready, etc. To cause a difference, make choices that others are not making. We have more information and control over our own behavior than we have over most things.

                I get things from a lot of different places.

                When I am upset with myself because of making a mess of stuff I am trying to do, one consolation is that I cannot know about some of the possible good I may have done in my life. Stuff other people take away from my actions and words is outside of my control, and it is not my responsibility to /know/ if I did any good that way.

              2. Change the world…

                Ain’t it funny that we can all read alternate history and time travel stories, and completely accept that the main characters must be so very careful of even the most minor interactions in the past changing the future…
                But we never apply the same standards of believing our minor choices in our current moments have the potential to massively change our future?

      2. The argument ad absurdum presented in the tweet does not help with the impression that the poster is one of the Horrible Warnings, as that section of humanity that is the most spoiled and weaponizes compassion for their enrichment, laziness, and entitlement is often the loudest about it, too.

        Kortnee’s point, though, is very valid: I’ve had to gently explain to more than one friend that companies are not people, and if they work themselves into the ground for their company, the company will simply replace them and move on. Sometimes the only way to make things better for the coworkers you care about is to stop trying to paper over all the gaps, and let things fail so badly corporate must fix them. And to leave, so that your coworkers who were desperately hanging on to the hated for the sake of the team and fear of change, can be inspired to also leave for better things, too.

        1. Having gotten that explanation more than once, I can attest that it was very gentle. And very low pressure, too, which was appreciated.

        2. “The company cannot love you, and does not have loyalty to you.” That’s the phrasing I’ve heard.

          That’s why a job/boss that is loyal to its employees tends to be so very popular.

          If they are breaking the law to abuse you… well, that isn’t what the tweet was talking about. For that matter, they could even go look at multiple different theologies to find arguments that would work, about sacrificing other people for profit. People as objects.

          But the image didn’t call for people to be brave, to stand up for themselves and others.

          It tried to hijack multiple generations for an attack on a strawman.

      3. I’ve met writers who expect to be successful first book out, and then stop trying, because the world is mean. I have met writers who expect to be successful because they’re geniuses, and sulk and become hateful at the first rejection. I’ve met writers who refuse to work, because their stuff is perfect, damn it and society is flawed for not paying them.
        I have NOTHING against writers who work till the writing supports them. I have no complaints against writers bitter because they’re stuck in midlist for reasons outside their control.
        I’m just tired of the wanna bes who want to be paid for suckage…. that’s all. And the worst part is that they never succeed.

    2. Er…. I have absolutely nothing against rest days. I was just pointing out people still have to work. Because the tone of that post is “We ain’t gonna try.”
      Of course it’s entirely possible it is a reaction to a ton of newby writers I’ve dealt with (and not newby but stuck in “i’m a genius.”
      Nothing to do with you. I KNOW how you worked. I couldn’t have done it.
      Yes, there are a ton of very bad bosses and very bad teachers, for that matter. But it should (still, maybe) be possible to get other work. It’s the idea that work itself is a problem that I object to. Again, nothing you ever said.

      1. I might be a little sensitive about the suggestion that I don’t work enough. Which, I’ll be honest, is a PTSD response to the last 20 years. Part of me really doesn’t blame the people coming up behind me who look at how I worked and say “nope” and go and find another way. If they’re honest, they find other work, in ways that they can stand. If not, well, they agitate for the ability to steal the labor of people like me.

        1. I think you worked way more than I’d have been capable of even as a young person. Like Larry, you’re in one of my “Dear Lord. I’d have died way before that.”
          Part of what set me off in that tweet is the attitude that “we’re not going to do this, no matter what.” We all went through periods of doing crazy things, because they simply had to be done. Like what you did. (I probably would just have died.) Her solution seems to be “I won’t. Carry me.”
          And btw, it’s not even generational. I have a tendency to say “young writers” when I mean “people who are young in writing” (which has unintentionally funny results, as I’ll talk about my writer children, and some of them are in their seventies. :-P) A lot of the worst warnings as writers are my age and older. And most of them, if they ever got published at all had a novel.
          I have no fears for you as a writer because you can work more than anyone I know, and do so while tired, ill and depressed. You’ll do fine.
          Now, me, I need to pull up off depression.

          1. Lord, do I understand Larry’s reaction to people giving him a hard time about posting about doing anything besides writing. The man is a freaking machine and not only deserves the time to do things he enjoys, they make his writing better. Honestly, while I plan to buy a town rather than a mountain, I look at his work ethic and hope I can turn mine into even half of his success.

            Most of the young-in-writing people have bought into the whole myth that their agents and editors are supposed to take care of them while they get a job “teaching” at a university. And if they can’t do that then they should have some kind of assistance from the public purse. Because they’re artistes, dontchaknow, and that novel that they’ve spent the last 20 years slaving over on the odd weekend off from being burdens on various friends is *important*. Not that it’s any good and if you suggest that maybe they need to work on learning more about their craft and the world to give it some depth then you’re obviously one of those soulless capitalists who insist that things be worth *money*. Which tells you that they know it’s not and are trying to bully themselves onto someone else’s payroll. Meanwhile, I make a point of buying original art in whatever form I can because it brings me joy and that’s worth the sacrifice of portions of my life that I collect in bills, coins and electrons that we use to trade for goods and services.

            Working while tired, ill and depressed is going to take its toll on me later, I’m sure. Abusing your body has to be paid for eventually. Maybe being gentle on yourself when depressed will help pull out of it sooner. I know that’s not as easy to do as it is to say but it’s worth striving for.

          2. And, I’ll be honest, there were times when, if I could have, I would totally have said “F. This.” and walked out. It would have required way more creativity than I had to pull out of the depression spiral it would have put me in but I would have done it.

  12. When our boy was 4 or 5, spouse got a job helping to open a chicken processing plant. He worked there a couple of years, despite the fact management lied to him on multiple fronts. Basically, they believed you should spend every waking hour at the office, including Sundays. Finally, one Saturday morning when he was missing another T-ball game (son had told him, “That’s OK, Dad,”), the radio played, “Cats In the Cradle,” and he realized he had to leave. It helped when he realized he was the ONLY person left from the original opening crew.
    So, several years later he got the chance to buy into a startup accounting/tax service. We decided we had the money and he went to work. It was three years before he got a paycheck through the entire year.
    Now we can take off after tax season (where he still works at least 50 hours/week and I work at least 40) and wander the country. He still works like a dog, but it makes a real difference to be doing it for himself.

    1. Husband quit best paying job he ever had, because younger son was depressed and crying and wouldn’t function when he wasn’t home. I GET THAT. (It was a traveling job.)
      But we didn’t go on welfare to “find ourselves.” there’s a distinction, there.

      1. Oh, yes. I ground a job that kept me perpetually underused and frustrated to keep that steady paycheck coming. I got brought up in the, “pay your own bills and stay out of debt as much as possible, and if that means not “finding your bliss,” too bad,” tradition.
        It doesn’t seem to occur to some folks that doing good work and paying your debts also “makes a difference.”

      1. I don’t doubt that at all. But for some of these advances, especially for certain politicians’ memoirs, I suspect they’re mostly providing a laundering service for said politicians. Viva and Barnes suspect as much too.

        1. I don’t. I just know because Baen is distributed by S & S that some of my money went to Hillary and Obama. And then my husband tells me the shower is too hot again….

  13. Thinking more about that tweet, it’s possible for the tweeter to live with less work and do it responsibly too.
    She has to live on way, way, way less. She has to cut down to the bones and say no to a huge variety of lovely things and experiences. That is: seriously miserly living of the kind that most people simply will not do.

    It can be done and when it’s by choice, it’s freeing. It’s hard though. Very hard.

    How much less is she willing to live on?

    Wanting it all on someone else’s dime is the height of irresponsibility. It’s also what will get you shoved out into the cold when hard times hit.

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