Saturday, May 11, 2013

SHUT UP & Listen!!

I wanted to post this on a site where I'm hanging at the moment but it would probably have been  the equivalent of Three-Mile-Island meets Chernobyl on the Exxon Valdez

So I wrote it, vented my spleen and now I'm posting it here.

I'm thinking of the millions of man-hours pissed up against the wall at BBC Get Writing, its descendants, at Scrawl, at BeWrite and so many other places whee the bland lead the blind.

Get a grip folks, look what a tiny, tiny percentage of you ever did well.

And those who maybe did well, didn't do it because of you, they did it despite you.

It's time to wake up, shut up, listen and start doing some real work.

Not necessarily with me, but with any serious writer who will give you his time if only, if ONLY, for five bloody minutes you will stop long, shut up long enough to realise you really aren't very good at   this. 

Not YET.

Here's my post.

Good Morning Charlotte

I hope I phrase the following right. I've had 8 hours total sleep in the last 4 days and I'm wasted, and have an eye infection, not good.

OK, you mention arrogance or confidence as (possible) descriptors of MY manner. It could be many other things, tho'. It might simply be "assertive". 

Or it could be sheer bloody disbelief at what I see going on about me and a response which isn't anger, or bombast but more like me screaming WTF? in total frustration at the underlying stupidity and deluded egos "opposite me".

I'm not talking about you, bear with me.

I could list my achievements. To me that isn't, even slightly egotistical. It is just a series of facts. 

It's my resume, my curriculum vitae. 

You all do that when applying for a job, do you not? 

Does that prospective employer say it's EGO? No!

I'm a very good writer, (15 First Prizes, a $16,000 bursary) a superb editor of short stories (I've edited a few BIG names and thousands of others), and I have judged closing on 50 literary competitions including the Fish Prize with Frank McCourt.

I should be way more successful than I am, but instead of being self-centred and career-minded I've divvied around helping beginners for the last 20 years, averaging 8 hours a day with them at least, and I did it free for more than a dozen years, and now  I charge the equivalent of expenses.

And yet I get unpublished neophytes arguing black and blue that they know far more athan me and I'm just "forcing my views on them" and "you're flashing your credentials as if credentials matter" or even "making up your credentials"

Of course credentials bloody matter.

And I look a their credentials and weep.

If I have a heart attack in town today and two men come to my aid, I want the famous heart surgeon to work on me not Fred who did First Aid for a week in 1962.

So I can write, edit, judge. I know genre, I know literary. Maybe I'm a crap teacher?

No, I'm an absolutely brilliant teacher. I could take a randomly asigned 20 people from here and get every one of them trad published in a year (if they listened and did the work.)

If I listed all the student prizes, the publications, the editorships they went on to, the 40-odd almost 50 books, the MAs my Boot Campers went on to, the two PhDs, it looks made up. 

I can of course prove every claim. 

A very famous novelist, shortlisted and favourite for the Booker was with me for 18 months until she left to have a baby wrote that novel and then got famous. I  had told Atlantic Monthly she'd be big. They turned her down. They would have to pay twenty times as much for her stories now. 

Just last week a BCer won The Fish Prize. 1,000 Euros

We've had 3 Bridport 2nds. £1,000 each

Oh, I can prove I can teach.

So I lurk in a place like this and I'm HORRIFIED by some of what I see. The decent authors are very quiet because self-appointed neophytes dominate the thread-starting and seem to control them.

The place seems "led" by the equivalent of a newly-arrived Boot Camper. But these people speak with such false authority it enrages me.

But rage, anger isn't the word. It's more like, "You have GOT to be kidding!!??"

It's only in writing this could happen. It wouldn't happen in medicine or sport or law or music or ballet.

So I often think F--- You! Go back to your sandpit! It might be easy to walk away, after all if they want to be massive-ego'd deluded twits well let them, let them sink in their own swill...


What about the newbies drifitng in? What about those not yet corrupted? They will be dragged into this hypocritical deluded mess unless someone makes a noise and says, "The Emperor is Naked." "The emperor is a self-deluded wannabe who bolsters her ego by starting threads and kissing ass."

And because I'm frustrated I make that noise.

Then these JOKERS (yes, jokers) say "You hate beginners. You want to crush them."

That's the most painful thing.

No, I don't hate beginners, I LOVE them. 

I just want the chattering thread-monkeys who pretend they have knowledge to SHUT UP, to shut up long enough so that the decent people here can actually hear the good writers in here (not just me.)

In Boot Camp we used to have a picture of my grandson and a motto.

Beginning writers are like babies. 

They can be pug-ugly, but OH, look what they can become.

I have worked myself into the ground for beginners for 19-20 years. I could get 20-30 to come here now, today and attest to that help, attest to their amazing improvement.

The difference is (and they were all once in places like this) I got through to them, the one in
a hundred and they looked at what had been happening around them and realised it was crap.

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