Monday, April 6, 2009

Do The World A Favor And Stop Writing

Hey, howdy - no need to buy anything from me. I came across your blog as I was looking for fellow nerd-ish Denverites, and was thinking "Hey, this guy should really come check out my blog"

Howsabout it?

-The comment "Joel Wyatt" left on my blog entry enthusing about Lackadaisy.

One of the real dangers of self promotion is that you might run across someone who takes offense. Or someone like me who is just as self-centered and is annoyed not so much by the self promotion itself as the ineptness of the act. I mean really, "Hey, this guy should really come check out my blog"? That's his come on? Not even a patently false, "We have a lot in common"? If a person is to so brazenly self promote he should at least give the person he's trying to entice a little ego stroking in return.

So instead of the nice private brush off I have given to dozens of aspiring writers over the years who wanted me to promote their book for them I'm going to give Ted Campbell (the writer behind "Joel") exactly what he wanted, space on my blog's front page.

Ted Campbell has written sixteen parts of a blog novel that he conceitedly describes as, "One part "Soon I Will Be Invincible", one part "Wild Cards", a healthy dose of "High Fidelity" and just a dash of "Hitchhiker's Guide" for extra flava." Yes, Flyover City is just as bad as you might expect from such a description. It is a universal rule, I think, that books compared to other more famous works simply will not measure up. When the author himself, rather than some advertising department lackey, is so deluded as to compare his work to that of famous authors before it has even been professionally edited it is like a big writing toxic waste warning sign.

His writing wants desperately to be funny, instead it comes off like the pale and flabby imitation of his betters. This is not the worst writing I've yet to come across since I've been sent many self published novels over the years. That's one of the dangers of being the Director of the Denver Area SF Association, people with low reading comprehension think that it is a good idea to promote their 'cutting edge and revolutionary! science fiction novel' with your reading group even though it isn't a reading group. Since he's doing essentially the same thing as the people who think that self publishing will lead to fame and fortune without even paying a scam outfit to print the book it should come as no surprise that Flyover City can stand up proudly among the worst of the genre.

Boring, hackneyed, trite, and dull are all words that I would have used in the ad copy for this particular work. To say it sucks would be a monumental unfairness to all wonderful men I've met over the years who were fantastically good at sucking, not to mention myself. He wants to be some sort of Hunter S. Thompson of superhero writing, but instead of having punch or interest it is just boring. Take this first paragraph:

Existentialist philosopher, chain-smoker, and all-round party animal Jean Paul Sartre ended his 1944 play “No Exit” with the denouement “Hell is other people”. I don’t know whether or not JP ever worked in a call center for a global telecommunications company (his Wikipedia entry doesn’t say - har har) but sitting here, tethered to my cubicle by a telephone headset, musing over the details of his life while Mrs. Marci Duncomb of Lakewood, Colorado screams in my ear about not being able to find her “stories” among the 682 channels offered with the Vaig Broadband Deluxe Package, I can definitely say I feel a deep, profound connection to the guy. Is it bad faith to declare kismet with an existentialist? Sort of like the Dalai Lama announcing to the world that he was reincarnated from a Catholic saint?

After reading several more pages rather like that I felt deeply in need of a beer. This guy is less funny than I am, and that's saying something since my sense of humor was surgically removed during my youth. True story.

So the long and the short is that your writing is bad, go back and try again, and your self promotion style is worse. No sane publisher would touch you with a 10 foot pole. I don't say that no publisher will because I've read The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb. Quite possibly the worse novel to be professionally published.

To sum up: Don't waste your time.


Harriet said...

Gods, I've missed that Mishalak snark! You go, lad! Well deserved, and well said.
And honestly, I've never contemplated Sartre while working in the call center. I'm more likely to be thinking Marxist/Leninist revolutionary thoughts ;-)

Mishalak said...

Moreover it was such a long an awkward lead-in to the "Hell is other people" quote, which is the sort of thing that most people have thought while working in a job with contact with the general public. He's just too damn pretentious about it.

joel wyatt said...

I cruise fellow bloggers with similar interests, in Denver and beyond, from time to time. I've come across old friends that way, made new friends, and found my way to your blog more than once, as well. I'll be the FIRST to admit that I was shilling for readers. But I wasn't, in fact, looking for space on your front page, nor was I looking to exploit your relationship to the Denver Area SF Association (if that's what you're thinking) All the same, thanks for taking the time to put up your review. (Twice, even.)

The only aspect of your review I'll defend against is my use of other works to describe what it is I'm attempting. My role is as much "advertising department lackey" as it is hack writer (or whatever more appropriate term one wishes to evoke, so as to not insult Dan Brown or those Left Behind guys, etc.) I list those works (1) to acknowledge that yes, these things ARE influences, whether or not I'm doing them justice (i.e., no, I'm not claiming this idea is something that just came out of a vacuum) and (2) to maybe/hopefully/possibly get my work to show up in a keyword search for those terms. (as you said, my self-promotion skills are pretty weak. Yes, that's an understatement. Got it.)

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I don't doubt your feelings toward my blog, but if any of your vehemence comes from my clumsy attempt at self-promotion, I apologize. Seriously. And if ever I do find an appropriately insane publisher, let this be a preemptive apology for my being representing everything that's wrong with the publishing industry, etc.

(But that won’t happen. Got it.)

Mishalak said...

I did not think you were trying to trade on DASFA. That was just an explanation as to why I have received many of these requests in the past. So that's a mark against my writing.

I honestly did not like your story. The only difference your self-promotion made was that I would not have bothered to be hostile in public had you not contacted me. If I reviewed everything I did not like I'd have the most active blog on the internet as I have high standards on everything from food to books. But I like to focus on the positive, since it makes me a happier person. No virtue in it at all.

But as one of my readers pointed out elsewhere you misuse words. This is a hard one for any writer to catch since it is not what you do not know that is hurting you, but what you think you know and just isn't so. The first example happens in your first paragraph, "denouement" is does not mean what you think it means.

I cannot recomend what do to about being a better writer since I am a bit of a cobbler myself. But I strongly suggest you find someone who likes your basic style and story and have him or her read it for errors and do the same in return. Develop your critical reading skills.

Liberal's Not In It said...

As one of your handful of readers, this entry bothers me. Sure, it's "snarky" and even bitchy, but come ON, are you so insecure that you have to publicly crucify someone's writing?

I don't know that the writing you speak of is good or bad, but your response to a benign self-introduction is scathing and just plain mean.

I've lost respect for you. I hope no one ever reads your work with the same kind of self-righteous scrutiny.

Mishalak said...

Ah, this is a classic. The 'concern' troll reply. You hope that no one reads my writing this level of scrutiny has a wonderful air rather like like, "I will pray for you."

And you've lost a lot of respect for me, well that just sucks for me, doesn't it? I mean I could totally change the person I am trying to win you back and self censor my every entry. I mean it isn't like those people in far off Hollywood don't have feelings so maybe I should reconsider that negative review of 10,000 B.C..

In other words I'm not writing this journal to please you or make you like me. Maybe it would be better if I was a different sort of person, but I'm not and realistically I'm unlikely to ever change. So if you don't like it, stop reading.

Mishalak said...

Also, yes, I do read my own writing with exactly this level of scrutiny. I know my writing is often crap and it bothers me greatly. I constantly work to make it less atrocious.

Liberal's Not In It said...

Yeah, about the immature and cowardly response I expected.

Thank you SO much for putting me in MY place.

You're a cliche.

Mishalak said...

You have the nerve to call me a coward Mr. Anonymous? Yeah, try using that one when you have even the modicum of courage to at least use a pseudonym that has a history behind it. You don't even have your single entry blog up anymore.

I very much doubt you are one of my readers, I suspect it is more likely that you are a friend of the writer or the writer himself playing the usual stupid internet games.

In other words, I don't know you. I have no reason to care what you think of me. You're no different than anyone else giving drive by comments.