2017/10/03

The Currentest of Years

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Dragon Award loser John Scalzi has come down with writer's block. The cause of the Tor author's affliction? President Donald Trump and the weather:
I started Head On in January with the plan to be done in the first half of the year, to leave the rest of the year open for other projects, including getting a head start on the next book in the Interdependency series. And here we are in October and I’m still not done, and generally speaking I’ve been lucky if I’ve gotten a few hundred usable words out of a writing day. I have never had as hard a time writing a novel as I have had with this one.
A daily word count measuring in the hundreds definitely falls short of Pulp Speed. You might point out that Scalzi, as a high midlist tradpub author, can take a more leisurely pace. You'd be right, but the tradpub gravy train won't go on forever, and all signs point to the ride ending soon.
I’m not trying to be mysterious about what it is about 2017 that is different. The answer is obvious: Trump is president, and he’s a peevish bigoted incompetent surrounded by the same, and he’s wreaking havoc on large stretches of the American experience, both in his own person and by the chaos he invites. But to say “well, Trump,” is not really to give an answer with regard to what’s different. We’ve had terrible presidents before — George W. Bush springs to mind — and yet my ability to create work was not notably impacted. When Dubya was in office I wrote five novels. The Dubya era was a crappy time for America (recall the wars and the Great Recession) but from the point of view of productivity, it was just fine for me.
The thing is, the Trump era is a different kind of awful. It is, bluntly, unremitting awfulness. The man has been in office for nine months at this point and there is rarely a week or month where things have not been historically crappy, a feculent stew of Trump’s shittiness as a human and as a president, his epically corrupt and immoral administration, and the rise of worse elements of America finally feeling free to say, hey, in fact, they do hate Jews and gays and brown people. Maybe other people can focus when Shitty America is large and in charge, but I’m finding it difficult to do.
Here’s one way to put it: Twelve years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit and the US Government flubbed its response and hundreds died, I was so angry and upset that I almost vomited in sadness and anger. It’s not an exaggeration, by the way — I literally felt like throwing up for a couple days straight. I eventually had to write “Being Poor” because it was either do that or go crazy. That was a week of feeling generally awful, and it wrecked me for another week after that. It took two weeks for me to get back on track with the novel I was writing at the time.
Got it? Okay, listen: 2017 has been me feeling like I felt when Katrina hit every single fucking month of this year.
Scalzi's "the dog ate my homework" post is yet another indication that #1 selling indie author Nick Cole is about to be vindicated once more. To quote Nick:
Okay.  As I’ve talked about before this before… this is what happens next:
  • Big Pub reduces its Author List down to servicing Cadillac Clients.  Many authors who think they’re something are about to be shown the door in the form of un-returned emails, unanswered calls, and not talk of future projects.  Already happening.
  • Amazon Opens Book Stores.
  • Trad Pub Authors attempt to seamlessly bring themselves ,and their Mojo, into Amazon and fail badly because they’re not use to the volume of work.  Marketing, Formatting, Editing, Social Media, and most importantly now:  A tight release schedule of every 30-90 days.  Also Amazon picks the winners and its more interested in New Talent.
A cataclysmic paradigm shift is underway that will soon overturn the publishing landscape as we know it. Indie has been overtaking tradpub for years, and now the Big Five New York publishers' sole advantage--their paper distribution monopoly--is about to collapse.

When B&N goes, it will take the tradpub midlist with it. You'll know the old era is over when current tradpub authors start trying to go indie. But as Nick forecasts and Scalzi confirms, former tradpub darlings are woefully unprepared to handle the increased workload.

And that's just on the writing front. Factor in the additional responsibilities of being your own publisher and marketing department, and consider how a guy who can't finish a novel in ten months with the backing of sci-fi's biggest publisher will fare in the new order.

Here's the truth: Scalzi's ongoing nosedive has nothing to do with who's president or the current weather. It has everything to do with the fact that Patrick Nielsen Hayden handed him a golden ticket. Scalzi has never had to work in this business without Tor propping up his career. Now he's losing favor to N.K. Jemisin, his last book underperformed, and he's falling behind on his contract--all in the looming shadow of B&N's failure.

Will Scalzi make the cut as one of Tor Books' "Cadillac Clients"? His odds would improve if he could overcome the pressure and catch up on his contracted books, yet that same sword of Damocles is what's generating the pressure. I don't envy him. Then again, he's shown a marked talent for landing on his feet. Time will tell if Scalzi and other tradpub authors can adapt to the new market.

The paroxysms shaking tradpub make me glad I jumped off the submissions carousel and went indie. You can get my captivating Soul Cycle series--including Dragon Award winner Souldancer--for Kindle and in paperback.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

81 comments:

  1. This is just sad and embarrassing. Pulp masters like Rob E. Howard were churning out awesome stories during the Great freaking Depression and this guy can't write cause Trump? Just embarrassing.

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    1. This is a weird example; Howard wrote a lot during the Great Depression but he also committed suicide during the Great Depression.

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    2. But he didn't kill himself because of the Great Depression.

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    3. I'm a rather old fart that is just kind of getting up to speed on the mind set/behaviors of the younger folks, having been rather disturbed by the behavior of the left/antifa/sjw jerks. Scalzi's rant shows an appalling lack of discernment of reality on his part. Is this common behavior these days?

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    4. SJWs are a small minority, but their enablers control almost every cultural institution. The bigger megaphone makes them louder than their numbers would otherwise dictate.

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  2. "Twelve years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit and the US Government flubbed its response and hundreds died, I was so angry and upset that I almost vomited in sadness and anger."

    Who would ever admit to this?

    The worst part of all this is that Vox called it when he was given the deal in the first place. And Scalzi, in his arrogance, set about to prove him right.

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    1. "The worst part of all this is that Vox called it when he was given the deal in the first place. And Scalzi, in his arrogance, set about to prove him right."

      Maybe Lowes has a burn ointment deal to go with the lawn care products. That failure is gonna leave a mark on Tor's little man.

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    2. I could see a man talking about something like that in private conversation to friends in the context of, 'can you help me get past this?' I mean, if I knew a friend was going through that kind of grief I'd try to help them take their mind off it. This is more virtue signalling - he's saying how much he truly deeply cares about other people, he cares so much that he has to tell complete strangers all about it.

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    3. *nods* There's no shame in asking for help when you genuinely need it. Scalzi's whole post is one long "the dog ate my homework" excuse to his readers. If I still read him, I'd be insulted.

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    4. Funny how his reaction was to almost vomit in anger and sadness, but not to get out of his chair and volunteer for - or heaven forbid, actually start - any relief initiative.

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    5. At least Sean Penn went to New Orleans.

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  3. Jesus, but you're a bitter prick.

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    1. Entirely accurate, but you're never going to make it far with word count that low.

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    2. Skipping straight to insults. This post was more convincing than I thought :)

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    3. Scalzi sicced his army of trolls on you his Twitter.

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    4. And thanks to their use of the #GamerGate block bot, I can't see any of it :)

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  4. He wrote that thread to encourage *other* people who are having a hard time creatively because of current events. But sure, take it out of context if that's what it takes to feel better about yourself.

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    1. People who let current events that don't materially affect them dictate their writing output don't need encouragement. They need to stop pretending they're creative.

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    2. But I see her whole bunch of people that keep themselves so wound up that they can't function. Blaming that on somebody other than their self is amazing. And then the rest of us have to deal with the constant and absolute insane fantasy that half the country's living under period every other election you guys have been able to decide that oops nevermind! But this time you dug yourself so deep in a hole that in order to admit that you were lying, you have to actually reassess your own identity. We get that this is difficult. That doesn't translate to sympathy.

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    3. "People who let current events that don't materially affect them dictate their writing output don't need encouragement. They need to stop pretending they're creative."

      They might also want to consider medication?

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  5. Your fiction novels seem to be averaging 8-9 months between release so...are you not up for the 30-90 day release schedule yourself?

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    1. I am. But as the post suggests, most publishers aren't for a single author.

      Hint: Novels released isn't the same as novels completed.

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    2. Aren't, dear.

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    3. *deer

      You were going for frozen-in-the-headlights there, weren't you? I'm almost sure you were.

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    4. Anonymous [October 4, 2017 at 8:19 AM]

      "Aren't, dear."


      'Novels released' is a category. It's singular.

      C'mon, Scalzi Trolls, step it up!

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  6. Oh look, some of Scalzi's triggered hangers-on have arrived.

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    1. I like to think of them as enablers.

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    2. That works too. Scalzi sharing your post in anger did get you more clicks, and they're low energy anyway.

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  7. You'd think he would just do a Secret Window and go hang out in a cabin in the woods with no internet if CurrentYear happenings bother him so much it's crippling his ability to work. I've had many a 5000+ word day working in isolation.

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    1. Notice his Twitter word count goes up as his book word count goes down.

      Why is he on Twitter? He's in need of a hug!

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    2. Yeah, but we know how that ended.

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    3. It'll be safe, Scalzi doesn't have the upper body strength to murder anyone with a screwdriver.

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  8. "... he’s a peevish bigoted incompetent surrounded by the same ..."

    Methinks the little SJW doth project too much.

    "Got it? Okay, listen: 2017 has been me feeling like I felt when Katrina hit every single fucking month of this year."

    You're a weak, divisive, foul-mouthed, lying little coward. Got it.

    Will Scalzi make the cut as one of Tor Books' "Cadillac Clients"?

    This. This is what makes Scalzi change his drawers hourly. Not Katrina PTSD. Not Trump Derangement Syndrome. This. Gamma Rabbit pellets all over the damn lawn!

    Scalzi (TL:DR version): "I got a lot of lawn to care for, you know, bro?"

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    1. Exactly. What's aggravating the situation is that he never intended to stay in the author game. It was supposed to be a stepping stone to Hollywood. But the screenwriting/TV production career failed to materialize. The big Tor contract was option B. Now even that's in jeopardy.

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    2. Stargate: Universe is a mighty big anchor to hang around your neck if your goal is success. Sheesh!

      Maybe another Star Trek series? A parody perhaps?

      Nah. Never happen.

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    3. He literally just tweeted about having a phone meeting with Hollywood people XD.

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    4. How much you wanna bet that a) they didn't call him and b) the content of the conversation was, "The party you have attempted to reach is unavailable. Please leave a message"?

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  9. Scalzi is a cautionary tale on the perils tht social media poses to an author.

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    1. Seriously. Look at his daily writing output compared to his volume of tweets. He needs rehab.

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  10. Then by this same logic he should have churned out a War and Peace and maybe a couple of Dune novels during Obama's 8 yrs.
    Like song writers, inspiration is a fleeting thing. For Scalzi it happened right after Old Man's War.

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    1. Scalzi's career is riddled with oddities. The dropoff in his writing quality after his breakout novel is the oddest. The vast majority of writers improve with each book.

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    2. I wonder if Scalzi could hire a hated enemy to ping at him with snippets of his own book outlines via Twitter DM.

      Scalzi could then Twit-write his books and get his fix at the same time.

      I suspect the little guy's output would go up an order of magnitude.

      Just looking out for the used-to-be-favored Torling. He's welcome.

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    3. If he does, you're just the man for the job. I'll even provide a reference. :)

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    4. Counter argument. Old Man's War writing quality went downhill really badly in the last few chapters.

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  11. Reading through Scalzi's rant or whatever strikes me as a middling writer who's cracking under the pressure of writing. And he's terrified thst he might have to find a real job....like teaching English creative writing to ESL students at a no name community college.
    I also think that being committed to social justice is sucking up his creativity and imagination like a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
    It's both sad and tough. His job is to entertain since he's failing people will spend their beer money elsewhere.
    xavier

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    1. Your insight serves you well.

      "...like teaching English creative writing to ESL students at a no name community college."

      OK. I laughed.

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  12. https://i.pinimg.com/736x/16/0f/3b/160f3b578e6a38fbe045a328efb53d30--attention-whore-attention-seekers.jpg

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    1. Yes, our man Scalzi is desperate for it, isn't he?

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    2. Look at that image again.
      Realize that I'm in the entertainment industry.
      #TheLeftCan'tMeme

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  13. DWS gave us the pulp speed metrics. So what's Scalzi Speed? 400 words a day? That's 100,000 words a year working 5 days a week with two weeks entirely off, so about a standard trad novel a year. But he's not even hitting that mark, is he?

    Mind boggling. I was going to do a bit about using Scalzi Units to mock him, as in "I got 17 Scalzi Days worth of writing done today!" but it just makes me feel pity. There are plenty of days I write more *lines of working code* than Scalzi does "usable words".

    He has money. Maybe time to just hire a ghost writer.

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    1. "Maybe time to just hire a ghost writer."

      I suspect it wouldn't be the first time.

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    2. Brian,
      Yeah. It's something I suspected too since you mentioned earlier that it was strange that his writing quality had dropped in comparison to his first novel.
      In any case, how many writers in Scalzi's situation will soon have to find real jobs that demand results?
      I just shake my head at the squandered opportunity. A writer is a job like any other. You gotta show up and write full time.
      Scalzi should be inspired by PG Wodehouse who"d crank out 12 000 words a week
      xavier

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    3. It's doubtful that Scalzi will have to get a day job. Leftists reward their fellow travelers for ruining industries. It's like a badge of honor for them. They destroy one company with SocJus, and another company gives them new positions that amount to promotions.

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    4. Sad Really. So next stop Marvel? Disney?

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    5. What Sarah Hoyt describes as "roll hard left and die."

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  14. Oh, look! Scalzi hitting severe writer's block because he doesn't like Trump! Well, check this out: https://youtu.be/dW8efme5eSU?t=2h1m2s <--- Rothfuss whining and going "boohoo!", stating he can't finish book #3 because of, go figure, Trump.

    Liberal idiocy everywhere.

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    1. Say what you will about Scalzi, at least he's written more than three books. Heck, he's written more than three _series_.

      Rothfuss is the poster boy for try-hard aspiring authors who spend ten years writing and revising their "magnum opus" and washing out when they're given six months to turn in the sequel.

      Scalzi might just survive in the new market. Rothfuss has zero chance.

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    2. But there's always time for a cruise or a convention for Rothfuss. Given the choice between being somebody on the con circuit or actually doing something with his writing, Rothfuss has chosen the first.

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    3. Wow, the guy wrote three books, that's it, just three, and he's been milking it for how many years now?
      Impressive.

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    4. Not to pick nits, but it's actually 2 ;)

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    5. Really? From the way it was all listed, I thought it was three. My bad.

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    6. Aye, that utter load of wank of a novella that came out in 2014 can't even be considered a proper book. I know I'll eventually buy DoS when it eventually comes out (if it ever will), but it'll be the last book by Rothfuss I'll spend my hard earned money on.

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  15. I made my career during the Obama error. If there were ever a president that turned everything around him to utter crap and plunged the country into crisis after crisis and an 8 year long depression, it was Obama. Only FDR was worse (cause he put people in prison camps).

    Yet during those eight years I launched a successful indy writing career. In September I wrote over 120K words, launched two #1 best selling books on Amazon (under my pen name) and completed principle work on a third.

    The secret is to get off the damn internet, and quit your bitching.

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    1. My hat's off to you, sir!

      Yeah, there's a big, jug-eared hole in Scalzi's timeline. "Bush's wars made me sad!" Fair enough. Obama is the only president to be at war every single day of his administration.

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  16. I guess Scalzi has run out of authors to plagiarize.

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    1. He's exhausted the stable of big name Campbellian authors. Pray he doesn't discover the superior sci-fi written before 1937!

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  17. So... how many words did Scalzi write on twitter yesterday?

    I'll bet it is 10x what he wrote in paying words.

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    1. Someone actually did run the numbers yesterday, and if memory serves, the total word count for all of his tweets was roughly 2500.

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  18. Here's an interesting link of an ex editor of Vogue. It has some bearing with the issue on hand:
    https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/oct/04/vogue-spat-shulman-enninful-fashion

    But it's this quote which is so revealing as you can substitute fashion magazines for movies (or books tm) and it underscores how blindingly unaware they really are about the paradigm shift.

    Shulman dedicates much of her article to defending the importance and value of print magazines over digital, describing them as “not only information and entertainment but also image-defining accessories, endowing the buyer with membership of a certain tribe when carried or even placed on a coffee table or kitchen counter”.

    xavier

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    1. ...and swat a spider with it, too!
      Take THAT, Interwebs!

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  19. I read Scalzi's post.
    "It's just the war... and that lying son of a bitch Johnson!"

    baahaaaahaaaa. Scalzi is Jenny's boyfriend.

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    1. "Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere."

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  20. you are a desperate man; flailing at failure because personal limitations and viewpoints. Perhaps one day you'll wonder why nothing came of your hopes and still blame others.

    PS. this is not success in view displayed here, its mere jealous antics.

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  21. This is still funny as hell to read about.

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  22. I think it more likely Scalzi's "golden ticket" has more to do with his demotivation than the political climate. It's axiomatic that many people don't want to work hard once they've "arrived." Or at best, they want to pick and choose their work and not work to contract. They get comfortable, they see that money in the bank, and they lose their edge, their passion. Who tries the hardest in a free society? The people on the bottom--the small businesspeople, the immigrants who want to put their kids through college, the coal miners who want to make sure their kids don't have to do what they did. When you're a darling--of any side or tribe--complacency is always lurking.

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    1. Bulls-eye! Heed David's warning, young authors. Stay hungry!

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