Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The return of Advice PKD

I'm feeling nostalgic for my writing days so I'm re-reading Now Wait for Last Year by Philip K. Dick. Not really one of his best, but it's been so long since I've read it that I forgot the plot, so it's like having a brand new PKD book to read. That's the great thing about your favorite author being a hyper-prolific button masher on speed, it might take a good five or six years to cycle through their books (assuming you re-read something by them 3-4 times a year, and I do), and by the time you get around to the beginning of the cycle, it's all fresh to you. (The worst part about your favorite author being a hyper-prolific button masher on speed is having to suffer through sentences like "Virgil had become almost hermaphroditic, a blend of man and woman into one sexless, juiceless, and yet vital entity.")

Anyway, I figured it was high time to bring back a feature introduced on ye olde LiveJournal, Advice PKD!

Anyway, the book starts badly, but gets better. It's the story of a drug that induces time travel, multiple dictators, some or all of which may be robots, a failed marriage, Martian playgrounds for the immortal rich... somehow PKD manages to shoehorn a dozen plots into two hundred pages of book. Every time I read PKD (and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Lethem), I always feel a little bit of passion toward writing again, which is the reason I have a few of his books queued up: I want to write. But at this point I wonder if it's not sort of pointless, since I don't really care overly much about playing the publishing game. I want to be published, but I'm not willing to go through all the work involved, the politics that need to be played, the cons I must attend and the professional blog I have to do to be "real." Someone once told me that I was basically making a fool of myself by using my LJ as anything BUT a springboard to find an agent and the almighty Deal, and I'll be honest, that stuck with me for a long time.

It's not writer's block: if anything, I have too many ideas and find it hard to focus on just one. Rather, it is a form of self-preservation, of not wanting to be sucked back into the "writer's life" just because I write short stories. Because frankly, it can be boring and petty, and far too much work for something that will never return a living wage. I love the writing, I hate everything that goes along with it. And sometimes it feels like doing the writing is pointless if you aren't prepared to do everything else. But I do know that I was a lot happier when I was writing short stories on a regular basis, even factoring in the "other crap."

Sorry this post isn't very funny!


  1. oh my god, i'm so horrified at whoever told you that about your livejournal. o_O

    also, i feel the same about wanting to write but not wanting to jump through the hoops to be published. :| what do.

  2. At the time I was going through some "stuff" and was open about it, and they said that no agent in their right mind would want to work with a crazy person. And that the face I present on the Internet is the only face an agent knows and for some reason I should care about this more than writing. Helpful email was not that helpful.

    I do take comfort in the fact that this person, to date, has published exactly zero things. Schadenfreude!

  3. I so totally get every word you wrote here.

  4. A friend set me up with a publishing consultant who said the same things, that I had to have a blog and be on twitter and facebook and 'establish my brand.' Then she told me I was 'telling not showing' in a two page synopsis, and I decided she didn't know what she was talking about.

    I hope you do start writing again, because I really like your short stories. You've published several without (as far as I know) jumping through hoops, so why not just keep doing that? I don't want to discourage you from writing another novel if that's what you want to do, but there's nothing wrong with what you've been doing.

  5. Oh, I'm still working on short stories. Just... not always finishing them and not actively pursuing publication. I don't want to write any more novels. I wish I was writing more often than I was (I can't bring it in me to write every single day like "they" say you should), but I've managed to publish almost everything I've finished. And without a Twitter!

    (And oh god, the phrase "establish your brand" makes me want to choke puppies. It makes me think of Harlan Ellison copyrighting his name, and wondering if they're going to include the (c) on the tombstone when he dies.)

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