I’m not sure precisely the connotation — I’m hoping its more, When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way rather than ooh somebody needs a spanking. Maybe it’s a combination. Maybe I’m James Dean in a soggy diaper? Danny Zuko who can’t share his toys with the other children? Maybe I’m Judd Nelson in the Breakfast Club, except also, I shoved a PB&J in Mommy’s purse.
Getting quoted at TPV is usually a little bumpy — understandably, as my views don’t always line up with the views of the commenters there. I think a lot of indie authors still remember me for my “self-publishing shit volcano” post (though sometimes I wonder if they actually read the post because I like to think that the post contained a very even-handed and honest look at the effects of a perceived lack of quality in that space). But this time around, getting quoted was — at least, so far — relatively painless.
But, then I saw some comments by mega-uber-indie-author Hugh Howey:
I hope so. He’s too nice a guy to go down in history as the person peeing in everyone’s art and telling them it sucks.
I don’t think that’s what he meant, but it’s what he was famous for for a while there.
… and …
He’s a really bright guy and a great writer. If he dropped the weird bad-boy schtick and just wrote his thoughts, he’d be one of the more important thinkers in publishing. I don’t think he knows how to back off the schtick, though. Which makes you wonder: Is he going to talk like that in another 20 years, when he’s into his 60s?
Working really hard to be hip is like getting a lot of tattoos. It’s hard to age gracefully.
(Which is to say, I feel I finally understand the comment, ‘damning with faint praise.’)
Obviously, I can’t control how people perceive me. Or this blog, or my books.
What I can control is what I put out into the world.
And so I thought, I’m going to take a moment to do what blogs were really meant to do…
Which is to talk about me, me, ME.
*rolls around in own stink for a few moments while you stare, awkwardly*
*stands up, dusts self off, looks shameful like a dog that just ate its own mess*
I’ve seen it suggested in some places that what I do here — the way I write, the attitude I put out, the overall frothing writer honey badger hobo vibe — is somehow orchestrated. That despite the ire I reserve for the topic of author ‘branding,’ this is actually my brand and it’s a very conscious one and all of this is (depending on who you listen to) either well-constructed or clumsily forced. It’s either a very nice mansion or a square-peg violently hammered into a circle-hole by me, an angry man-toddler venting venom and vulgarity.
I want to make one thing abundantly clear:
This isn’t artifice.
This isn’t a mechanism.
This isn’t my brand.
It isn’t, as Hugh suggests, my schtick.
This? Is me.
The way I write on this blog is the way I think. I have this space for me first, for you second. The dopey fuckery and wanton dipshittery that I ladle onto these blog pages are here because I like them that way. I like wonky metaphors. I love creative profanity. I really enjoy writing in a way that is both (hopefully) thoughtful and completely batshit. I write this way because I think this way. I don’t really act this way in public, of course, because it’s a very good way to get Tasered. And when people meet me for the first time (as I’ve noted in the past), I don’t scream “YO MOTHERFUCKER” before spitting in their gaping, gasping mouth. I’m fairly polite in public. An introvert playing at extroversion — or, at the least, an introvert who finds himself extroverting once he’s comfortable with people.
And at this blog, I’m very, very comfortable.
This is me kicking off my shoes and kicking up my feet. Letting the beard grow all mangy and wild, like a snarling carpet of moss or an old, hunger-mad coyote. This is me, comfortable. I’m comfortable with you and, presumably, most of you are comfortable with me since a not unreasonable number of you show up here daily. (And thank you for that. Seriously.)
I write the way I think.
Sometimes I turn the volume up. Sometimes I turn the volume down — and, in my books, I turn it down because there the voice is different. (Despite all this not being artifice, I do remain in control of all the knobs and levers that govern my voice.) But this is my playspace. This blog is for me, first and foremost, and hopefully there are enough folks who gain some kind of intellectual, creative or profane sustenance from these pages to make the juice worth the squeeze.
I’m not trying to be “hip.”
(Is that really a word people use anymore? “Hip?”)
(I still like “rad,” honestly.)
Sure, sometimes I can come across as harsh — a little too much gravel in your wine, a few too many bird bones braided into my silky, luxuriant face-pelt. It is a fair critique to say, “Well, if you didn’t call that post ‘shit volcano,’ maybe you wouldn’t have upset people, and with a nicer title, maybe those people would’ve read the post.” Yeah, maybe. But I did it, and I’d do it again. Because ‘shit volcano’ is funny. Because I liked titling it that way. You might have already gotten this far in the post and wish I wouldn’t do these weird parenthetical asides, or the fake-actions-sandwiched-betwixt-asterisks, or the eyebrow-raising metaphors. Sure, I get that. But I’m going to do them anyway. And, when I’m harsh, it’s because that’s how I feel and because I’m trying to portray the path ahead with all the bumps and thorns that lurk ahead. (Though, for the record, I don’t see myself as “peeing in everyone’s art and telling them that it sucks.” I like to think of this blog as a very supportive space of writers of all stripes. Your creativity and creation is vital, and nobody should tell you otherwise. That said, once you start to charge money for something, ennnnh, you’ve gone from creativity to commerce — and there, the attitude changes a little bit. All that is, of course, between you and your personal deities. But all told, I don’t think, we can all do better is a particularly poisonous message, unless of course, you find comfort in cromulence.)
My mission at this blog is as follows:
a) to enlighten and inform, and when that fails:
b) to make you laugh, and when that fails:
c) dazzle and bewilder with inventive profanity.
The fail state of that last one is, you and me maybe just don’t like the same things.
And that’s okay.
Hell, that’s awesome.
What kind of a goofy world would it be if we all liked the same things? Or we all agreed all the time. It’s important to have different voices and different ideas. Sid and Marty Krofft, could you imagine if I was the dominant voice in writing and publishing? What an ugly pony that would be.
Just the same, this place is my voice.
These are my ideas.
Not a brand, or a schtick, or a lie, or me trying to be hip, or be a “bad boy.”
If you’re going to hang around here, this is what you get. (Sorry, Hugh.)
You’re gonna get the NSFW/NSFL language.
You’ll get all my kooky ranty-pants ideas.
You’ll probably see a lot of CAPSLOCK and italics.
Absurdity will be rampant.
I am likely to poke more fun at me than I do at you.
I will squeeze things in parentheses and between asterisks.
Sometimes things will be in lists.
I am likely to reference any of the following: hobos, unicorns, various woodland creatures, dildos, forbidden sex acts, beards, fluids, volcanoes, toddlers, Transformers, and of course: lots of blathering bloggerel about writing, storytelling, publishing, language, and all the mortar that holds those particular bricks together.
This is it.
This is me.
I hope you like it.
If you don’t, that’s okay.
But this is still gonna be it, and this is still gonna be me.
And by the way I think tattoos are cool, even on 60-year-olds.
Now, if you’ll excuse me — BAD BOY AUTHOR COMING THROUGH.
*writes a novel while riding loud motorcycle*
*flicks lit cigarette into a trash-can full of awful books*
*slams your head in a dictionary*
*throws beer cans at your head as you go into a library*
*autographs books in bat blood*
*flushes your manuscript down the toilet*
*tattoos entire text of Finnegan’s Wake on back*
*poops on your blog*
*flies away on a jetpack made of unicorn bones*