I’m sorry I’m so late with this. The post at MGC took far longer than I expected.
I started to explain how much more freedom we, who deal in stories and words, have nowadays. I don’t know if anyone who is not in the business can fully appreciate how much. It’s so much, in fact, that many in the business still don’t believe it.
I remember circa 98, when no one was buying Darkship Thieves blowing up with something like “I wish writers could just sell their work on the street and at fairs” (I lived in Manitou Springs, then, a small town in the Colorado mountains, with a surprising number of working artists, some of whom are actually very good. None of them were “known” but they sold and made a living in stalls, store fronts, co-ops and fairs.)
Well, now we can do one better. We can set up our little stall on line and attract a global audience. We’re free to write anything, regardless of what “real publishers”TM think of it. Note for instance how well military science fiction does with the public in general, even though the only publisher who would buy it (for decades) was Baen. We’re free to have it copyedited or not. Yeah, some people don’t, and some people aren’t even punished for it. We’re free to take our books on sale, monetize and get paid, and to work as hard as we want for what we want.
This is not a post about writing, so we’ll leave it at that, but I’ll note there is a reason many of my colleagues are terrified of this development. They lash out at indie writers, they lash out at anyone suggesting indie writing is an alternative, and they always lash out at Amazon who made all this possible.
That is because freedom is terrifying.
The Bible, which, whatever else it is, is a repository of impressively old traditions and narratives and very accurate on the nature of the walking upright hairless monkeys, says that the Israelites, in the desert, longed to be back in slavery.
I know a lot of my colleagues long for the fleshpots of NY publishing, chains and all. I also know that after the wall fell the Eastern countries got a number of “backlash communists.” And I know a lot of people go back to bad marriages of (practical) servitude, rather than walk away. And that humanity as a whole seems to be trying to crawl back into a caste system in which 90% of the people have no freedom and 100% of the people aren’t as free as we are.
A Libertarian friend of mine thinks this is because people like being slaves; they like servitude.
He is wrong. It’s not that people love being slaves. It’s that freedom is scary, because if you’re free you can fail AND YOU ONLY HAVE YOURSELF TO BLAME.
It’s no coincidence that America, arguably the freest country in the world, when it comes to pursuing the avocation you want to pursue and being successful (or not) is also the birth place of SJWs and Micro aggressions. It’s no coincidence that it’s in America, a country that prizes women so much it’s almost a matriarchy, that women keep insisting they live in a patriarchy and grossly oppressed. (All without realizing how much more oppressive even other western countries are. Let alone places where your genitals will be mutilated for the crime of being a girl.)
These things are done, and eternal oppression forever claimed, because humans don’t want to be slaves. Oh, no. They want to be free. Completely free to do whatever they want. They also want someone to blame as they fail.
A few people have even managed to get themselves into that position, but if you’re not the son in law of someone relatively rich and important, it ain’t gonna happen.
You’re going to have to take your freedom, your failure, and your guilt about your failure, as one single deal. This is called being an adult.
At one time there used to be much psycho-babble about fear of success. Frankly I thought — and still think — this is bullsh*t. Everyone i know who claims a fear of success aren’t terrified of being acclaimed, rich and famous. No, what they fear is that they’ll succeed just enough for everyone to realize how they failed. Say, they’ll have a bestselling book, but the websphere will be on fire with word of their horrendous typos, or their ignorance of chemistry or something.
Because success has downfalls. And being allowed to succeed comes with fear you won’t. Or that your success will be imperfect, and everyone will make fun of you, or–
Yes, sure, you can try to blame the cat for your failure (my son at eight blamed the cat for removing the muffins from the oven and eating one, so why not.) And you can try to crawl back into a situation where you have an excuse for your failure.
But barring the son in law thing, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. And no one is REALLY going to believe you’re oppressed for you gender/looks/race in the US today. Maybe a little picked on, sometimes, for a few people, but not OPPRESSED to the point you can’s succeed.
Adulting sucks. But it is what you must be, if you want to have your freedom and eat it too.
Shut up about it, take the bitter with the sweet, shoulder the awesome burden of your freedom and carry on.