Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[process] Faking sincerity

Interesting comment thread about the writer who created a fake publicist. pnh is especially trenchant, as he so often is. It happens that I don't fully agree with him. ETA: I misread him, and we are pretty much in the same place on this. My apologies to pnh.

Here's my take, since I didn't explain it earlier.

First, to me this is like lying on your resume. Not a wholesale breach of ethics on a par with plagiarism, but I still find that sort of thing significantly troublesome. Remember that my day job career has largely been in marketing. I'm extremely familiar with the fine art of spin, and all the different ways the truth stretcher can be applied to the inconvenient facts at hand. I suppose it's easy for me to say that the "whatever it takes to get published" rubric has limits (I am, after all, published), but even when I had not a single credit to my name, it would never have occurred to me to do this. And I like to think I'm a fairly creative marketer here in the literary world. It feels very wrong to me.

Second, the message to aspiring writers also strikes me as very wrong. It's basically: screw the process, if you're good and clever enough, you can jump around it. Disapproving of this message is a tricky line, because that statement is true, if you are good and clever enough. But very, very few of us are, including almost everyone who believes themselves that good and clever. The majority, probably the vast majority, of published work did follow some form of the usual process, myself definitely included. But stories like this feed the "magic bullet/secret handshake" myth to which so many aspiring writers cling.

I'm one of those people who says that in the end, it's all about the work. This guy's work was good enough to get him a major deal with Simon and Schuster. That's validation. But the message he seems to think of as creatively disruptive strikes me as potentially destructive to the hopes of innumerable writers trying to break in.

Or maybe I'm just a fuddy duddy who doesn't get it.
Tags: process, publishing, writing

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