Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Whining Writers and the "Starving Artist" Syndrome

This is not the article I intended on writing today, but, due to certain circumstances it's the article that I have written. Those circumstances will become clear pretty much immediately. On Sunday night, I was speaking with a guy who is in the process of writing on the theory that the Bigfoot creatures of the United States are not giant apes or supernatural beings, but some form of primitive human. Granted, not too much has been written (in terms of a full-length book) on this particular aspect of the Bigfoot phenomenon. And, I have no doubt at all that the book - when it's published approximately around this time next year - will provoke a lot of interest and debate, both inside the Bigfoot community and outside of it. But, it's not the book, or its attendant theory, that I'm focusing on today. In fact, it's something very different; something driven by the ridiculous words of the Bigfoot writer, himself.

If there's one thing that sends me into a rage (well, there are actually more than a few things, but they can wait for another day...) it's the suffering "starving artist." I hate them. To the extent that I was almost tempted to write the word, "hate," in capital-letters. About twenty or so minutes into the conversation, our Bigfoot author brought up the matter of how he was having to work anti-social hours to get the book written. That he was toiling into the early hours, and that his advance from the publisher wasn't what he hoped it might have been. That was very much akin to a red rag to a bull. And, so, I hit back. What began as a conversation descended into a full-blown argument, which I'll come back to shortly. In the meantime, a small diversion:

The starving artist aside, there are several other kinds of writers. Actually, there are way more than several, but there are a handful in particular that I'm going to share with you. The first writer I want to introduce you to is somebody like me. I realize and appreciate how lucky I am (and have been) to have turned an interest and a passion into a career, despite having had little success in the way of formal education. Namely, going from reading books as a kid to writing books, doing articles, lecturing, and appearing on TV shows. I get up in the morning, start work at roughly 9:00 a.m., and continue until around 5:00 p.m. Then, the laptop goes into sleep mode until the next morning. And I don't ever work at weekends or evenings. Unless, that is, I'm on a major deadline. Evenings and weekends are my fun times. Forty-hours per week, Monday to Friday, 9-5, is plenty of time to get the job done. If it isn't, then you're doing something radically wrong. Now, back to the matter of that argument:

So, to hear the author on the phone moaning about his "suffering," set me off on a rant. As I said to him, anyone like me (and, I should stress, like him, too) - who is able to work from home, who can dictate their hours, who never gets stuck in traffic-jams in the morning or early evening, and who can sit in front of their laptop dressed in track-pants and a Misfits t-shirt - has absolutely no reason at all to complain, but every reason to be grateful, to both my readers and my publishers. And he shouldn't have been complaining. But, he was complaining. I had to listen to something like how, the night before, he had only written a page-and-a-third. It was time for me to interrupt again. As I said, getting paid for writing a book, even though you only managed less than a page-and-a-half, is not something to get all dramatic about.

As a teenager, I left the U.K. equivalent of high-school with barely a single academic achievement to my name. No college. No university. Nothing. Then, before I became a full-time writer in my mid-twenties, I spent a few years working as a forklift driver, very often doing vampire hours, in a red hot warehouse. That was work. Getting paid to write about Bigfoot is nothing to whine about. Punching the keyboard is nothing to whine about, either. Bigfoot guy should have been thankful for the chance/gift that has come his way. And, if you are struggling, I added, then damn well find a way to make it work. Don't complain. You're not someone who has to set the alarm for 5:30, feed the baby, feed the dog, and hit the road. People are giving you money to write about monsters. Be thankful! It's not a difficult world to live in, providing you get down to the work.

Now, it's time to take a look at another kind of writer that gets me mad. It's the self-important one. I don't know why, but over the years I have had the misfortune to come across certain people who work in (time to put on an important-sounding voice...) "the arts." On so many occasions I've seen the following approach from the self-important ones: that what they are doing is vitally important. But, as they see it, they're just not getting the exposure they are absolutely sure they should be getting. They are frustrated by the fact that publishers just don't understand them, they say. Maybe, though, what they have written is total, pure shit and the publishers that turn them down do understand. Fully. Mostly, I've seen and heard this pompous crap puked out at parties held by book-industry people and at book-launches, which is why I try and avoid such bile-filled events whenever and wherever I can. As a writer myself , even I can't stand the "I work in the arts, I'm someone significant, and I need to be listened to" approach. Now, it's time to bring this article to its end.

I'll close with two pieces of advice: (A) for budding authors who write on paranormal topics, or even for those who have been in the game for years, quit complaining about how rough life as a writer can be (instead, have some responsibility, don't have pathetic tantrums, take note of how lucky you are to do what you want as a career, and, above all else, get the book projects done); and (B) for those ego-driven, self-important types, just go away; that really is the only advice I can ever give you.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

"Klark Kent" RIP

If, like me, you've been in the UFO field for a couple of decades, you may remember a guy who went by the name of "Klark Kent" (real name Bruce Millar Forrester, Jr.) and who popped up at UFO gigs now and again, often carrying and displaying strange devices and contraptions. He died just last month. I met him once, I think at one of the early "UFO Congress" gigs in Laughlin, Nevada. I'm pretty sure it was either the 1998 or the 2001 gig, as I spoke at both. I might be wrong on the location, though.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

"I Know What I Saw"

A few weeks ago, I was sent an advance review copy of the new book from Linda Godfrey, I Know What I Saw. This is a great book (due for release in July) and digs deep into her investigations into strange creatures. Keep a look out for it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019