A rant about some I once worked with

There’s been something picking at my mind for a couple of years now. It’s dragging me down and, worse, making it difficult to write. Here’s the sequence of events that caused it and my reaction to it.

 

I was working with another author on a trilogy of vampire books set in Europe at the time of George III. Her name is Celina Summers.

 

The project wasn’t easy for me. I’d never worked on anything that big before and big things make me nervous. Enough so that my depression started to manifest so for a short time I wasn’t contributing project as well as I could.

 

But I got restarted on my meds, the depression cleared up and I got back to work.

 

But I was also enjoying the project quite a bit. It was challenging both my imagination and skill.

 

Now Ms. Summers and myself both hang out at the Absolute Write forums, and we both participate in the Politics and Current Events sub forum there. Our political views are quite different but it’s a free country. She has the right to hold her views and I believed she thought I had the right to mine.

 

I was very, very wrong about that.

 

One day I posted this. Now let me make it very clear. I like capitalism. It’s the best economic system we humans have come up with yet. However I don’t believe capitalism, the economic system, cares much for democracy, the political system. It’s far more comfortable with advanced authoritarian systems that are not opposed to capitalism. I know many people disagree with me but I have the right to believe that and the right to say so.

 

Which is why it was such a shock to receive this e-mail from Ms. Summers.

 

* * * *

Rob,

 

You need to remember that everything you say online can and will come back to haunt you.  When you complain about how the writing of a book is going, I know about it.  When you inform the world that due to ‘circumstances with other people’ the book release is delayed, potential customers see it and assume we haven’t done our job.  When you bust forth with anti-US sentiments on a political section of a writer’s board, those posts show up on Google AND IT TURNS PEOPLE OFF FROM BUYING THE GODDAMN BOOK.

 

Look, I personally don’t give a rat’s ass what your political opinions are–you can just keep them away from me and we’ll be fine. But, when your behavior starts to affect my pocketbook it really pisses me off. As far as that goes, you can argue to your heart’s content if you just support you contentions with reliable sources–not op eds or Wikipedia. But above all, you have to treat people with a modicum of respect and the way you’re behaving at AW is not respectful. When I start getting PMs and comments about my writing partner’s behavior, things have gotten a little out of hand. AW is a strong customer pool of mine and you’re pissing all over it.  Use the helpful sections, the writing sections.  Play in Office party.  Post in P&CE with good source material and a more respectful tone.  And for God’s sake, stop stomping all over the customer base.  Whether you like it or not, the majority of book buyers are American and there’s nothing you can do to piss them off quicker than to equate them to fascists or spout off bullshit about slavery being the high point of capitalism.

 

Seriously.

 

Celina

 

* * * *

 

As you can see Ms. Summers decided that she had the power to tell me what I could and couldn’t say on-line. If she had a problem with what I said she should have dealt with it there, with the same guidelines she laid out for me. Instead she lays down the law about how I can and cannot act.

 

The only reason I could think of that she could get away with doing that is that she believed the power of our professional relationship and friendship (We had been friends up to this point) could let her get away with that. Also was the sotto voce threat that she would go to our publisher and kill the project. She’d bring up ‘my behavior’, meaning my saying things she disagrees with, and then ‘my behavior’ would be spread around and kill my writing career. All because she doesn’t like what I say and has no trouble using any power she has over me to get me to STFU.

 

I loathe bullies and that’s what she did, bully me.

 

I tried to explain to her how I felt in an IM conversation, but she wasn’t having any of it. She even made it clear she felt no obligation to stop posting her political ideas on-line because apparently hers wouldn’t cause the problems mine did. Her were right and wouldn’t make anyone angry. Picture me rolling my eyes here.

 

I stayed with the project but my heart wasn’t in it. I left after the second book was finished. I no longer trusted Ms. Summers and you can’t work with someone you don’t trust. I’m sure she was relieved to see me go.

 

I’ve found it very difficult to write since. Quite simply Ms. Summers fucked me up but good.

Why? Because this is very typical of how things go in my life. People always ‘move the goal posts.’ Here I thought creating a book is all about writing but now I find out it’s about propriety; proper talk and proper beliefs and proper behavior. And I’m afraid propriety is not something I’m good at. I never have been and I never will be. I’m the propriety equivalent of dyslexic. My mind just simply cannot comprehend the subject. It makes no sense to me.

 

So I have trouble writing these days. I’m too sure that I’ll step over some line somewhere that I’m not even aware of and then I’ll be back to square one with any hope of a career. I keep thinking “Why bother? I’ll be judged on the things I’m not good at rather than the things I am good at.”

 

It’s really tough to do anything when you believe that ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you do. It’s going to end in failure.

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Cover for my next e-book

I’ve taken a sabbatical from writing. I had a very nasty experience a while ago that threw a lot of doubt on my writing. Not my ability to write. That’s fine and I’m good at it. But I found out that propriety is just as important to a writer as it is to any other career.

Unfortunately I’m not a proper person.

So writing became difficult. I spent as much time obsessing about what mine I would step on next time as I did writing. It was like trying to walk on a broken leg.

My wife suggested I take a sabbatical. It was good advice and I took it. I must admit now when I think of writing something I don’t stress about the BS.

A sabbatical doesn’t mean I can’t plan for when I do start writing again. I’ve been planning on redoing my first book, a series of short stories centred around a vampire, Georges Belleveau, and his human lover, Diane Patterson. They’re two of my favourite characters. The original book was called In The Dark. The company that published it is defunct. I’m a better writer now and I think a reissue would do well.

A couple of months ago my wife won a professional cover for a book in a contest. She graciously passed that opportunity to me. We told the artist, Suzan Butler, what we wanted and she turned out a lovely piece of work.

Isn’t it lovely? Thank you so much, Suzan. And to my lovely wife, angel.

Dreadfully sorry…

…that today’s blog post is late. The reasons why will be explained shortly.

It’s been a busy week.

I turned 57 last Friday. Friday? (Checks calendar) Yeah, Friday. As you can tell I don’t pay a lot of attention to my birthdays. My mom came over, bought us lunch and gave me a card and a present. She brought along a birthday cake my sister, who is a certified baker, made for us. It’s delicious, and I generally don’t care for sweets.

My wife bought a wheelchair. Her back’s gotten very bad so walking any distance or standing for long is difficult and painful. So the chair is a great idea. She’s been kind of apartment bound since she arrived and now we can go places together.

The reason this blog is late is that my wife found a great software bargain. I got about $750 worth of software for $29. Among the programs is the game Bioshock 2. It’s one of those “just a couple of more minutes” games where you look up three hours later and realize it’s three hours later. It’s been a while since a first person shooter caught me like this. I like that you have to make ethical choices in this game also. It doesn’t happen often enough in gaming.

So, that’s it for this Monday. Have a great week, everybody.

I really enjoy being domestic

My wife and I bought a slow cooker on Friday. It was a great price, too good to be passed up.

Today we did a pork roast in it today. It turned out great. We’ve lots left for sandwiches and there will be enough for stew. Yum.

It’s probably because of where I used to live that I like doing this sort of thing so much. I lived in a house run by a charity. It was a place where people with problems, like I had at that time, could live while they got their acts together.

Unfortunately, some of those people with problems had problems that made them, um, difficult to live with. Sociopaths, psychopaths, general abusive control freaks were not uncommon roommates for me to have. This meant things like cooking meals could be dangerous. Some people decided the kitchen was theirs and were not above threats of violence and destruction of property in order to make their ownership clear.

So having a place of my own where I can cook a meal in safety is a joy to me.

My newest addiction

I have a new addiction. Well, maybe an old one restarted with a new version. Specifically I’m speaking about Civilization 5.

The Civ games have been around for a long time, about twenty five years now. I’ve been plating since Civ II. That one was lots of fun. Three wasn’t quite as enjoyable as I recall, but I still played it. Four was something I played every day.

And now Five is out. I think it may be my favorite of all, so far although it’s a little early to tell. There’s been a fair number of changes from Four.

The first, most noticeable change is that the map is now laid out in hexes rather than squares. This means that units move the same distance no matter how they move. There’s no diagonal moves which means a unit moves farther than when moving in a straight line.

The second most noticeable change is that you are limited to one unit per hex. In the previous games it was not uncommon to see a Stack of Doom, where a player stacked a gigantic number of units and just blew through their opponent. That doesn’t happen now and so more attention must be payed to tactics. There are units that can fire over other units such as archers and cannons which requires that you have depth to your battle lines. This is something I’m really enjoying. Your armed forces no longer have to be gigantic, just properly placed, and you have to have reserves.

In Civ 4 each civilization had a unique unit, one that had abilities other units didn’t have. For example the French had musketeers which had a movement of two rather than the one of musketmen which was what ever other civilization used. Now every civilization has two unique items which may be units (the Greeks have hoplites and companion cavalry) or a unit and a building (the Indians have war elephants and Mughal forts). It adds flavor to the game.

Another change is that some resources are limited in availability. Before, once you mined, say iron, you had enough for any purpose. Now you use up iron with the units you build. This means you have to think carefully about what you build. “Do I use an aluminum to build a hydro plant here? Or do I use it to build a rocket artillery? I can’t do both.” This adds depth to your strategic decisions, and forces you to improvise if you don’t get a lot of a strategic resource, which happens too often.

Another new thing is city-states. These are one city states that never expand. You can negotiate with them. If they become allies they will provide you with any resources they have access to, and you can move your units across their land. They may also provide you with food, culture, military units or even Great People under certain circumstances.

So I’ve been playing Civ 5 every day for a month now, and I am loving it. The designers have simplified the game where, in my opinion, it needed it. And they’ve made it deeper without making it more complex. Civ 5 is a lot of fun,

So if you like strategy games with a huge scope, get Civ 5. You won’t be disappointed.