Getting ready to hit FOG Con (that's Friends of Genre) in Walnut Creek this weekend at the big I think Marriott hotel over there. Actually on a couple panels for it as well. Dig it.
Friday 3/8 - 4:30
Reading. Probably from QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS which I'll have for sale on the d/l.
Saturday 3/9 - 3:00
Panel. "What Have You Been Reading?" and I'm sure my answers will not dovetail with anyone else's. That's just by nature.
Maybe I'll crash a couple more? I dunno. More than a little bummed that I only got picked for those, but whaddya gonna do when you're the free entertainment, actually you're the entertainment that it costs money to become in terms of gas, hotel, food, admissions and energy. But otherwise, totally free entertainment.
Oh yeah, that's the fun thing underlying all of these shows, right? And hey, maybe you do get to be a guest and they comp your room and ticket and all. Then you're just free entertainment getting a couple meals out of it. I know. This sounds caustic. It's only supposed to be mildly so (and is not meant to pick on FOG Con in particular -- this is the way these shows operate at most levels.) You're supposed to do it for the good of the genre and that.
Folks, SF is fine. Only misers need to save things, right? (Thanks Grant Morrison.) People will continue to write SF and fantasy and all those other things because it's what they want to write. Even if they don't get paid for it and can't make a living off of it. But that's most writing these days, in the era of the Howling Pit. Give that content away and hope to catch a tailwind to bigger audiences. Be happy when someone pirates your book because well maybe you'll get a paying reader out of that and then someone's attention and before you know it, you're a household name doing Amazon series and TED talks and all that.
Folks, I find copies of QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS on pirate sites and I fucking despair of things. I'm nobody.
N O B O D Y .
My name is not known beyond my publisher and a handful of other readers (of which I am thankful for every single one). I'm not in a position to benefit from piracy--if even that's an actual thing. I suspect it's more a weary recognition that nothing can be done to stop it other than playing whack-a-mole with the pirate sites overseas and just hoping, HOPING that people stealing your work leads to more work later on, more recognition.
"But, Matt. Some artists choose to give away their art."
They sure do. Hell, they'd be giving it away even if they didn't choose to.
"But this big artist says--"
That big artist has been on the NYT for more than twenty years. They're fine. Their example does not apply to everyone.
"But Radiohead gave away a whole album if the fans wanted."
So did U2. Both bands sell out arenas and are set for life if they've had a lick of sense. They were hugely-well-established, industries on their own. They weren't a band struggling to tour or to pay recording fees to make another record to hope to sell at shows.
These aspirational wishes don't apply to the smaller artist. Sure, if you're writing fan fiction or thinly-veiled such, then go ahead and give it away. Worked for FIFTY SHADES, right?
Anyways, piracy sucks. Folks who seed those places with advance copies (gosh, I wonder where they get them) are pieces of trash. But we live in a world that is often trash, gotta say. Yeah, it's expensive buying books. I get that. But have you priced comic books lately? Digital comic books, even? Three bucks or more. Lemme tell you how long it takes to read your typical contemporary comic book. About as long as it takes to read the first chapter of a prose book, maybe a lot less. I know, apples and oranges, just talking raw expense here.
Books are expensive. It's expensive to produce them. Time, energy, focus, sanity, everything before the editor tries to beat it into shape and the cover gets paid for and printing and advertising and shipping. Real objects cost money to produce. Even digital products do. Same amount of work on the back end. Doesn't mean you should be charging fifteen for a first-run ebook or Great Caesar's Ghost upwards of thirty bucks for academic ebooks (yes, I browse academic titles which is why I don't end up reading a lot of the same things other people read, to tie back to my upcoming panel appearance.) And sure, if people stop paying for books, writers will still keep writing them. Sure. They will be pure writers then, doing it only out of love of genre and form. Then they will be free to write anything that their editor steered them away from! That'll be the only way to get honest writing! FREE BOOKS FOREVER!
Or, they'll just keep working their jobs and maybe not writing any more because there's not even an aspirational step out of that Howling Pit.
Okay, well, that was bracing. I've been in a fine mood of late and stuff like this doesn't help it, I know. But it's real and it's out there. It's a fact of life today. It's also depressing as all hell.
But then so is ditching what you've written on a current project. Don't worry, I kept the pre-writing. But what I had wasn't working, the actual prose. See, I talk often about the ease of writing, but it's only easy when I find that vein. And right now I've been jabbing my forearm blindly 'til it looks like hamburger. But I'll find it soon enough, just had to ditch the path I was on now 'cause it wasn't getting there. Don't worry, it wasn't so much in terms of pages and it wasn't any damn good at all. None. Not a bit.
I'll pick it up again shortly. In the meantime, it's screeds and getting my act together for this upcoming show. And then Emerald City Comic Con the following week. Then Wonder-Con two weeks after that. Busy month.
Oh, and of course I've been pulling up the finest in linkblogging pleasure for you. Enjoy.
This week's links
Logos via Ken Lowery
1979's THE INFORMATION SOCIETY (via Mark Buckner)
Jim Steranko's most famous romance comic
Cold/minimal synth--which is the backbone of my listening these days.
THE OUTER SPACE CONNECTION 1975
Retribution Gospel Choir
Trees- Sleep Convention - Red Car
via Mark Buckner
Belgian coldwave (1979-1983)
Ken Nordine and Tom Waits spitball movie ideas (via Colin Dickey)
Urban exploration in California
Esotouric Tours Amazon storefront - LA book intensive
How the T2 soundtrack was made
The rise and fall of Pioneer fried chicken in LA
Kaleidotrope magazine submissions (hey, you might want a job)
PKD and Valis and Duncan Jones