A few writing-related quotes from perhaps the most acerbic wit of 20th-century journalism...
“...an author, like any other so-called artist, is a man in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in. His over-powering impulse is to gyrate before his fellow men, flapping his wings and emitting defiant yells. This being forbidden by the police of all civilized nations, he takes it out by putting his yells on paper. Such is the thing called self-expression.”
“Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood. ”
“I know of no American who starts from a higher level of aspiration than the journalist. . . . He plans to be both an artist and a moralist -- a master of lovely words and merchant of sound ideas. He ends, commonly, as the most depressing jackass of his community -- that is, if his career goes on to what is called a success.”
“Believing passionately in the palpably not true... is the chief occupation of mankind.” (not really about writing, but I'm making it so).
In other news...
An interesting account of how one first-time novelist (but established writer) came to the decision that giving away his self-published debut novel for almost nothing made the most economic sense, via BoingBoing
It's worth a read, especially for those aspiring (is there any other kind?) book authors who can't seem to gain any traction trudging along the traditional book publishing path (And if there are any literary agents out there, I'm now holding up a cardboard sign that reads "Will Work for Representation and/or Food").
A quote from the last graf...
As the screenwriter William Goldman said years ago about Hollywood, Nobody knows anything. You try something, you try something else, you try everything, even things that sound insane, because in an industry where the longstanding business model has been upended, everything else has been upended too, even the gravitational tug of logic. If you want to get rich, value your work at zero. Yes, okay, it reads like the last line of a Zen koan. But self-publishing’s best practices are still unwritten, so really: Why not? That tactical freedom might be the most disruptive, the most liberating part of the whole self-publishing business.
I'm still trying to decide if that's a fair statement or self-delusional bullshit. I'm thinking the latter, mebbe?
And if you're a writer or journalist who just doesn't have enough despair in your life (and who couldn't use a little more despair, right?) I'll now direct you to this cheerful little report on the current state of the alleged creative class, via Salon
Read it, writers, and weep for the present, never mind the future, 'cause there 'aint one...
Listen to the optimists and the great recession sounds like a great opportunity. This is the time for the creative class to brand itself! A day job, they say, is so 20th century – as quaint and outdated as tail fins and manual sewing machines. Thanks to laptops, cheap Internet connections and structural changes in the world economy, we’re living in a world of “free agents” – “soloists” who are “self-branding” and empowered to live flexible and self-determining lives full of meaning.
We are all citizens of Freelance Nation — heirs not to the old-school stodgy, gray-flannel-suit Organization Man but to the coonskin-capped pioneers and rugged, self-made types who built this country.
Some are losing their houses. Others are watching marriages go up in smoke or falling into heavy drinking. Still others are couch-jumping for months or years at a time. Or they’re veering close to bankruptcy because of the risk of living without medical insurance. Call it the new creative destruction.
"...In fact, many free agents see themselves not as freewheeling soloists but as permatemps and content serfs."
Content serfs. I like that one, because in the sucker's game that is modern freelancing, that's exactly what you are - a serf. And if you don't like it, if you can't live on what they offer, then tough shit, there's another serf waiting right behind you who'll do it for less. Move along, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.
Haven't you heard, dumbshit? Everyone's a writer these days...*
* Of course, the ironic thing is that most of the really good writing I'm finding these days is on personal blogs...