A FAREWELL TO HOUNDS
If you follow me anywhere online, over the years you’ll have seen many, many photos of our dogs. Sadly, after losing Connor at the end of 2018, we’ve now had to also say goodbye to his adopted sister Rosie. Both were rescue dogs, and we take comfort knowing we gave them both good, long, and happy lives. They’ll live on in our hearts; but today those hearts carry a little more sorrow than usual.
If you’re moved to do something in their name, and that of rescue dogs everywhere, please make a contribution, no matter how small, to a local dog rescue. If you’d rather give to a national organisation, we’re supporters of Dogs Trust UK.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
After posting the last newsletter, I was reminded of another danger inherent in landing a “dream job” — that once you see how the sausage is made, it’s truly difficult to enjoy it as you used to before you became involved in its making.
As I mentioned last time, I used to read magazines voraciously. Put simply, if there were mags devoted to something I loved, I would read them. Couldn’t get enough.
Then I landed a job working on a magazine I loved… and quickly realised what a sham much of the industry was.
Now, biased as I may be, .net was actually pretty good at commissioning people who knew what they were doing. The Internet was so relatively young, and the world wide web absolutely so (the mag launched only a year after the release of Mosaic, the first graphical web browser), that the barrier to even rudimentary writing about the subject was high.
Many other magazines — some of which I wrote articles for, I confess! — were, shall we say, not so stringent. I frequently found myself dashing off last-minute pieces about subjects I’d barely researched, or software I’d hardly used. And this wasn’t only the case for computer-y mags, or even only for Future; across the industry, consumer publishing is one area where being able to write on time to order is far more important than writing well (sub-editors can and will fix a plethora of problems) or having any kind of in-depth knowledge of the subject. One way or another, those pages have to be filled.
Within six months of starting work at .net, I stopped reading magazines.
Now, you may see this as a searing indictment of consumer mags. But the truth is that almost anyone, in any business, could tell you horror stories about what really goes on out of public view. It’s rarely pretty.
In fact, you only have to take the most cursory glance at what I do now — write fictional stories, of varied kinds — to find creators who will admit none of us feel like we have anything more than a basic grasp of what we’re doing, and live in fear of it all going horribly wrong.
On the other hand, writing fictional stories is not something where a person’s expertise in a subject is relevant. The only thing that matters is whether or not they can tell a good story — all other considerations are secondary. Thank goodness.
(It also means I’m still able to enjoy reading, watching movies, and so on. I won’t deny there’s a part of me that wants to constantly re-write and second-guess everything as I go, but in a way that acts as a quality filter; any sufficiently good story will draw me in enough to suppress that urge.)
Where am I at with everything? Well, let’s see.
THE ORGANISED WRITER has been picked up, and in fact is about to undergo final edits. But the publisher still hasn’t yet announced anything, so I still can’t give you any more details. I’m fit to explode, here.
(The other consequence of my experience working in mags is that I now wouldn’t dream of writing a non-fiction book, much less a productivity guide, without knowing what the hell I’m talking about. Trust me ;)
The first mocap shoot for PROJECT GOJIRA is underway in LA, and scripting for the second half will begin soon. Again, I’m bursting to tell you what this one is, but until the publisher announces, my hands are tied.
Screenplay PROJECT CLIPBOARD is done to sort-of “rough polish” stage. I’m working through notes from trusted friends, and will hopefully have a final draft ready later in autumn.
Non-fiction PROJECT CANNED SOUP is done and with my lit agent. Fingers crossed we can find a buyer, as I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. It’s a very different thing to ORGANISED WRITER, but is certainly in the same no-bullshit, real-talk vein to which I naturally gravitate.
Several other things are bubbling under — when are they not? — but that’s about it for solid progress right now.
EAT UP MARTHA
The quest to devalue writers’ rights and income marches on.
Ten years ago, Amazon proposed enabling Kindles to read out ebooks with a text-to-speech generator — effectively creating crap audiobooks, and neatly sidestepping the pesky issue of paying for the rights and licenses to do so.
The publishing industry didn’t take it lying down, and in a rare case of doing the right thing, Amazon backed down…
…Until now, when Audible (which is owned by Amazon) has proposed enabling Kindles to “caption” ebooks with a speech-to-text generator — effectively creating crap ebooks, and neatly sidestepping the pesky issue of oh you know the rest. Of course they don’t want to pay for it.
Anyway, the publishing industry is unsurprisingly not taking this one lying down, either. The Verge has a good write-up of the whole debacle:
THRASH IT OUT: MEGADETH
This one’s already long enough, so I’ll close by pointing you at the latest episode of THRASH IT OUT, wherein my co-host and sworn enemy Brian LeTendre revels in our Patreon supporters making me listen to yet another terrible Megadeth album. The result is predictably snark-filled 🤘😅
MAYBE I DON’T LIKE IT, BUT I HAVE NO CHOICE: