C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

Do Not Write By Committee

The blowback is coming. Soon, Starbucks will offer pumpkin spice lattes. I just saw a social media post in which it was pointed out that it’s a mix of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This short post ended with, “It tastes really good and it’s okay to let people like things.”

First and only comment: No thanks.

(Gee, I hope that commenter was kidding.)

Next up, I listened to an interview with the delightful Simon Pegg in which he discussed the hazards of writing a Star Trek script. The tide of toxic fandom rose because, sigh, of course it did.

“THEY KNOW WHAT THEY LOVE AND ONLY LOVE WHAT THEY KNOW.”

Simon Pegg

(By Thor, I love that deep incisive cut, don’t you?)

Toxic fandom often goes to great lengths to demonstrate how little they understand creative work. They get the end result, but don’t understand or respect creators. Some even go so far as harassing writers and actors, especially if they’re women or in the BIPOC community. Gatekeepers are a particularly sad variety of this anti-enjoyment force. If you’re telling people they have to have read all of The Sandman before they really “get it,” please stop. We do get it. You were cool before everybody else. Good for you. Now shut up.

Actor Justin Long of Life is Short with Justin Long, confessed that he joined a I Hate Justin Long Club. (Note: Justin Long is a fine actor, and also a delight.) Funnily enough, by joining the club and agreeing with them, he defused the hateful action and made the organizer look awfully petty. However, as Simon Pegg observed, that shit still hurts.

Not everyone is going to love what we write and no writer expects that. However, some readers demand a home run every time. They want what they want and don’t you dare challenge their assumptions. They read books to confirm their biases and that’s all they’re in it for. More dramatic reviews sometimes end with, “I’ll never read this author again!” Gee, whatever shall I do without that $2? On the other hand, saying goodbye saves much more money in therapy. Trying to cater to each of those angry whims would lead to a lot of sleep loss. It’s nuts to try to write for the haters. Please, write for your readers, the lovers.

When I worked as a journalist, I wrote a piece about a common medical condition and profiled a particular sufferer. I soon got an irate call from a woman who was afflicted with that condition, but it rose from a different cause. She was in an anguished rage that I did not grind her particular axe that day. With threats to contact my editor and presumably end my career, she hung up in a huff. Her life brought no joy. She is not missed.

Sometimes you’ll detect a passive-aggressive version of this energy on a social media post. To demonstrate their higher expertise, some pedant will take the point you made and claim it as their own or take it further, as if you missed something. It’s not about you. They’re trying to feel good about themselves, and if that comes at your expense, they’re okay with that. Nobody likes the Well Actually Guy, so they have to feel good vibes some other way. A reviewer who proudly described herself as a know-it-all apparently does not know that the term is a pejorative.

One of my reviews (an outlier, by the way) declared: “Rubbish!” and “tries too hard.” Not really sure what trying too hard in this context could mean, but fuck it. It doesn’t really matter. For the sin of trying to entertain someone, you will get some negative reactions that are obvious overreactions. One wonders how these folks react when they face a real problem. The danger isn’t the nasty review. The danger is that you may take it too seriously and let it shut down your creative spark.

One reader contacted me with kind of a snarky question. I answered politely, but demonstrated that his assumptions were erroneous. At the conclusion of this interaction, he told me he enjoys contacting authors “to help them.” Dude, I didn’t ask, and I wasn’t helped. Actually, I helped you and no, I will not censor myself at your command. (As I’ve said many times in this space, write with your editorial team’s feedback, but DO NOT WRITE BY COMMITTEE!)

When we give too much power to readers, we’re essentially in the Florida school system where great books are banned for being too something or other. Among many, many others, their list of objectionable books included The Hate U Give, Of Mice and Men, A Wrinkle in Time, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Vampire Academy, and on and on and on until their fragility leaves them with just one book full of all kinds of violence. It’s a book they claim to revere, but few have read. For that one book, they give a lot of leeway. To be fair, some can quote the snippets they love while ignoring the uncomfortable bits. Alas, if only all authors could receive that grace.

Everybody gets to have an opinion, but don’t let them influence you too much. Don’t respect people who have no respect for you. We don’t write for everyone. We write for those who receive the frequency we’re sending. Everything else is static.

Now go write that fabulous genre-bending plot that most will love and some will absolutely hate. That’s what we do. Without us, how will the haters feel good about themselves? With us, our true readership feels better for the shared experience.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I write apocalyptic epics with heart and killer crime thrillers with muscle. Check out all my work on my author site, AllThatChazz.com

Filed under: book reviews, writing advice, , , , , , , , , , , ,

The World’s End…and our beginning

TPOD season 1 ecoverFor most, the last milestone of summer just slipped by. Labor Day’s demise means the end of bikinis, bikini dreams and the return to indoctrination centres. But Time’s notches are  artificial milestones, like New year’s resolutions, your anniversary or waiting to start your new diet on Monday morning. If you need to begin again, now is the time whenever now happens to be.

For instance, don’t wait until it’s your anniversary to send flowers. It’ll mean more because it’s not a special day. Any day can be made special, momentous or mundane. Our choices make it so. Let’s take a moment to think about those important choices and a fun Simon Pegg movie.

I saw The World’s End today.

Mostly, I liked it, especially when it didn’t take itself seriously. However, between that and the trailer for Last Vegas, a depressing theme returns. Last Vegas is old guys “getting the band back together” for one last blowout party before making funeral arrangements.

Even the last Bond movie explored mortality’s dark territory. Note to Hollywood: James Bond getting old is something no Bond movie should ever explore. Bond is timeless, cool and indestructible, just like we wish we were. We want a vicarious thrill ride with babes sporting unlikely names, not a vicarious prostate exam.

Comedies that pound on mortality? That’s a hard target. Getting old and worrying about mortality are what doctor’s appointments are for. When I’m guzzling overpriced popcorn, I don’t want a reminder that my time is limited. If the best is behind us, why go forward unless it’s merely out of habit? (Insert Jack Nicholson impression here: “What if this is as good as it gets?”)

So let’s focus on the positive.  

Defy the forces of Time. Ignore Time’s dictates. Do what you want to do. Often, when we aren’t doing what we want to do, we’re forgetting:

  1. our dreams from childhood.
  2. that our time is limited.
  3. who we are.

Reality check: But most of us can’t do all we want to do.

As per my last post, I have to start another business to shore up Ex Parte Press. But I haven’t forgotten childhood dreams, mortality or who I am. Simon Pegg (whom I love, but geez, man!) wouldn’t let me forget, even as I tried escape into a movie to forget my problems for a couple of hours. It’s not Simon’s fault, though. I identified too much with the film’s immature main character crying out, “We want to be free!” and “They told me when to go to bed!” 

I’m still working toward my dreams and freedom. I’m still writing brain tickles and suspense. I hope you’re undeterred and writing madly, too.

If not, don’t wait.

Begin again.

Now.

Live a life full of new beginnings and you can ignore what happens just before the credits roll.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of books. His neural net fires into the dark wildly. He does not wear collars. He eschews ties. If you want an easier, happier life, those are bad bets but a jerk’s gotta do what a jerk’s gotta do.

 

 

 

Filed under: getting it done, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

http://mybook.to/OurZombieHours
A NEW ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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