Lu Chi and The Art of Writing
So I wanted to start this off by talking about how I disagreed with Lu Chi and his quote in The Art of Writing; “Restrain verbosity; establish order; otherwise, further and further revision” but can’t. I mean, we’ll get to that in a bit but just using the quote gets me a little warm because I first saw the quotation at the bottom of an e-mail reply I got from Steve Paul, Senior Writer and Arts Editor for the Kansas City Star. I mention his name because I didn’t want you to think I was making this up and your opinion of my credibility is everything to me. You know that baby. (what?) Anyway, he had sent a reply after I contacted him about reviewing Merciful Flush and he wanted to let me know that the Kansas City Star “didn’t have the resources” to review self-published books. What resources are those I wonder. (Should there be ? or a period after that sentence? Shit, no wonder I’m self-published)
Karen Long from the Cleveland Plain Dealer responded that she “had a hunch” that Merciful Flush was self-published (whatever could have given her that idea?) and let me know that they do “very little in that vein”. Tom Beer simply stated that New York Newsday isn’t “able” to review self-published books. What he should have said was that they could review self-published books but they choose not to. At least have the balls to own up to it Tom.
Even shitty little wannabe websites sometimes say they don’t accept anything not direct from publishers. I know I’d never heard of theRumpus.net, readingwithmartinis.com, bookslut.com or bookgasm.com before they, in a feeble attempt to feel more important than they are, rejected the book before seeing it. The self-importance of the morons is breathtaking. Putting sexual innuendo into your name doesn’t make you hip douchebags. I swear, you’d think the wannabe reviewers would help out us wannabe writers. I guess I’ll have to find another way to reach their 3 readers.
So you see why I’m a little warm. Here is a quick list of authors who self-published books: Mark Twain, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leo Tolstoy, Edgar Allen Poe, James Joyce, Louis L’Amour, Marcel Proust, George Bernard Shaw, T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings, L. Ron Hubbard and Walt fucking Whitman. I wonder if any of those writers ring a bell to these literary snobs. Maybe they’re not snobs but they certainly dinosaurs clinging to the pretention of how things have always been done and oblivious to what’s coming.
And while I’m warm anyway, make sure you don’t believe a word you read from any review from kirkusdiscoveries.com or forewardmagazine.com, they are some of the new breed of sites that review books for money. They shake down authors in order to print a nice review. Why would anyone put any faith in a review coming from a these assclowns? Fuck ’em.
Technology is leveling the playing field and soon writers will enjoy the same freedoms as musicians. No longer do the ‘major labels’ control what you hear, now bands can record and release songs on their own directly to their audience. Soon even the tyranny of commercial radio format will crumble under the weight of real choice. The same thing is coming for writers with the advent of eBooks. Publishing houses no longer have a monopoly on things, you can download a book for under $5 instead of paying $20 for the hardcover version and the best part is the writer will make more money selling the eBook than they make in royalties on the bloated cost of hardcover.
But back to Lu Chi. He certainly has a point for some forms of storytelling but I have to disagree when it comes to blogging. A lot of people ask me why my blogs (and books) are so riddled with misspellings and bad grammar. My reply doesn’t exactly answer Mr. Chi but it’s a start. First of all I’m cheap so I would never pay anyone to edit my writing. Second, I’m very lazy and just don’t care enough to edit it myself. But third, and most importantly, I like the idea of the occasional error. It’s like the difference between going to a movie and going to see live theater. Whenever you find a mistake it’s like when a prop malfunctions or a line is flubbed. It becomes different for a few second. The tightrope walker never falls in a bestselling novel but in a blog the ground is littered with their corpses. If the point of a short story is make you think for yourself than the occasional flub seems like not such a bad thing.
My real answer to Lu Chi is that revising a story even once can kill a lot of what the writer never meant to include in the first place and that is usually a lot more interesting than what he or she thought he was writing about. I will acknowledge that this approach doesn’t work when you are actually trying to tell a long, well thought out story but it does wonders if you want to throw down some random thought that you found interesting. Buried in there somewhere is something that someone else might find interesting as well.
Usually there is nothing more tedious and mundane then someone fighting ‘the man’ or ‘the power’ in print but I think some readers might have at least a passing interest in the fact that writing and publishing, like most entertainment enterprises, operates on the same principles as making sausage. If you knew what went into it you’d find it a lot less appetizing. Just trying to give you a ringside seat as these dumb books try and find an audience.
“The mistakes are all waiting to be made.”
– chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956) on the game’s opening position