To make a long story short — or short story long? — the Man In Charge Of Needle Mag, Steve Weddle, posted submission guidelines and then tweeted them, asking for suggestions.
I said, in the comments there, “My two cents (no pun intended): pay the writers if you select their work.” And I tweeted similarly (“My two cents, re: NEEDLE. Pay the authors. Even if it’s a cent a word. Feel free to ignore that advice”).
Man, that was like dropping a turd in the punchbowl. Or, it was like duct-taping a turd to a live baby and then dropping the live baby into an above-ground pool filled with starving tigers.
I kind of figured it would’ve ended there — it’s not like my “writers deserve pay” opinion is new, after all — but, I’m also kind of an idiot, and the conversation gained the kind of life reserved only for lurching undead monsters powered by bolts of witch-fire and lightning.
As a result, I suspect people are pissed at me.
There’s also the dead cat stapled to my door with a thermonuclear bomb up its ass and a baggy of mysterious white powder in its mouth; I catch the whiff of anger.
As such, I now offer the worst kind of apology you can ever receive. Are you ready for it?
Wait for it. Wait for it.
“I’m sorry you’re mad at me.”
Variations: “I’m sorry I pissed you off,” or, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Listen, I get it. I made the centerpiece of a very passionate plea orbit around a venture launched by a handful of genuinely excellent writers — Steve Weddle, John Hornor, Dan O’Shea. I wasn’t trying to pick it apart, gents, I really wasn’t. I was trying to make a suggestion and get out of the way — y’know, drop the mic on the stage, walk off all cool-as-shit. The most I hoped would happen is that a revenue stream or three might pop up as suggestions; the worst I figured would happen would be that, the initial comments would be simply ignored, which would’ve been all good.
It’d be all good because, despite my righteousness, it doesn’t make me right. You don’t have to listen to me. I understand that you don’t have to listen to me. I don’t expect you to. I expect you to do what’s right for you, not do what I say. I’m just talking over here. I’m just talking because — well, that was built into the conversation model, right? You ask about suggestions, I may have one for you. It’s something about which I’m pretty passionate; I just want writers to get their just desserts is all. Writers are good people.
But I apologize for the turd in the punchbowl, or the turd-baby in the tiger-pool. I did try to conduct myself respectfully, and I apologize if anything I said came out disrespectful, dig? I tried to keep the discourse even-keeled. I maybe failed at that? I dunno. You tell me.
Now, here’s where the apology becomes the truly worst kind of apology! The kind of apology where I backpedal a little bit. Fun! Fun for the whole family.
I admit that I’m confused that I raised such ire over the subject. I never thought “Pay The Writer” was a motto that would be… I dunno. Demonized? Found distasteful? I especially didn’t think other writers would feel that way. It genuinely surprises me. It’s not like I said, “All writers should have one foot removed with a toothy saw.” I didn’t say, “All writers should submit to ‘Writer Camps’ to begin the pogrom — I mean, reeducation.” You tell people “you deserve more,” and usually they agree, even if it’s not true.
I get that it doesn’t apply across the board, and I get that crime fiction has its own special little weirdnesses as a market. I get it. You’re still free to do as you choose; nothing I say will damage the model. I’m just another asshole on the Internet with an opinion. That’s what I do. That’s why I have a blog. Yes, I realize this takes a certain degree of ego. Yes, I realize I’m sometimes an asshole. I know this. I’ve grown comfortable with this. I apologize to any caught in my Explosive Asshole Syndrome from time to time or who are tromped under the marching goosesteps of my ego.
But I am really surprised at how heated the discussion became.
I appreciate everybody who — despite any apparent assholeishness on my part — kept the discourse rational and sane.
If I missed anybody insulting me or whatnot, well, those people can go eat a dick and die. (Hey, what do you want me to say? Thanks for insulting me on the Internet behind my back? You stay classy, social media.)
And I still believe, through all of this, that writers should be paid. In any market. In most situations. I’m not going to equivocate on that point. I just think, if you’re a good writer, someone will pay you for your work. I don’t believe in the “dues paying” model. I believe that’s nonsense. Even at 18, I got paid. My writing teacher told me I should get paid. Pro writers I met at cons told me I should get paid. Up until recently, I actually didn’t even see how this was a debatable point.
But again, that’s just me. You don’t have to agree with that. I can’t stop you from doing what you want. I wouldn’t want to stop you, this being a free country and all and we being squishy little beings with free will. You do what you like. I won’t kick down your door. I won’t call you names. I just won’t agree with you — and, on the Internet, that seems the worst crime of all.
Let me circle back around and see if I can’t rescue this sad mea culpa from swirling the drain.
I should’ve just kept my mouth shut.
I get that. I shouldn’t have taken direct issue with the magazine. I just thought — hey! Someone’s asking for suggestions, I’m sure they’ll appreciate my input. My bad. It was not appreciated, I should’ve stayed out of the public pool because I think I just peed in it. And I have syphilis. And syphilis pee glows. It glows.
Good luck to everybody involved. I’ve got no axe to grind against individuals or institutions, it’s no harm, no foul. If you’re pissed at me, or you have something to say, hey, say it. Don’t bottle that shit up. Direct it at me, and we can talk about it.
And somebody please come get this dead cat.