This sits in sharp contrast to the smooth marketing speak that I was exposed to at the last writers' conference I went to. I don't know if the presenters meant to portray the writing profession as a slick, form over substance exercise in polite public masturbation, but now that I think of it, I think Harlan Ellison would disapprove.
I don't know what he would think, of course. I would be way to terrified to ask him. He's actually friendly with my cousin, but I would possibly literally pee my pants if I met him. I certainly wouldn't want to talk about my writing, but I would love to hear him talk about his.
All I know is that the climate in the "publishing business" makes me pretty ill. I got, for a dizzy, vertiginous moment, a perspective on just how many people write, or aspire to write fiction, and just how few of them will publish. The reasons for why they don't publish vary as often as the capricious moods of a public that would rather watch "American Idol" than read a book most of the time.
I totally fear being a hack. I don't want to play it safe. I'm trying to get fired up to work on my newest idea, and I'm bitterly ashamed how easily I get sidetracked. Being a new parent has robbed me of my sleep, as well as whatever free time I used to write that last deformed manuscript that feels beyond the reach of reform as it is. I'm exhausted, and to be honest I am feeling a little sorry for myself.
I think I need to go back and re-read some of my favorite Harlan Ellison and re-focus on the kinds of stories that make me want to write in the first place. Those civilized hotel convention lunches with their well-intentioned keynote speakers are not going to cut it, I'm afraid. I need to reach out and find the dangerous, bleeding edge of what I am willing to say and then lean on it hard. It needs to hurt more to not write; I need to be able to soothe myself with climbing word counts more than the opiate feed coming out of the "glass teat". I need to stop whimpering and really suffer if I stop creating things, even if they are malformed and not marketable. I need make cranky work for me.
I really hope I can meet Harlan Ellison one of these days. But more than that, I'd like to have the frame of mind that would make me at least an entertaining dinner guest for him. No, fuck that. I'd like to actually be able to enjoy meeting him and not be thinking that I sound insipid. I'd actually like to have a good time and not give a crap what he thinks of me. I'd like to feel that way about a lot of people.