Talked to Death

Denis McGrath was talking about fanfic on his blog the other day, and happened to mention my many discussions here on the same topic, prompting someone to comment:

I find your posts re: fanfic far more fun because you actually address the issue whereas poor Lee, who is usually so eloquent, seems to be rendered a name-calling child in the face of the issue, unable to put an actual argument together. Just because he is on the side that is obviously right doesn't mean that slanging nasty words around is sufficient advocacy or even entertaining commentary.

Denis replied, saying what I might have said if I wasn't guilty of exactly what the commenter said.

To be perfectly honest? I think he's just been at it longer than I have. My recent experiences on the Copyright brief have kind of siphoned off my good humor and goodwill, too. There comes a point where you've made the arguments, and when you face utter illogic, misinformation and misunderstanding, that you lose that humor.

I couldn't have put it better myself. I've made the rational, coherent, good-humored arguments 10,000 times…and that's  just if you count my posts on the topic when I was producing SEAQUEST. I ended up writing a book about that experience (BEYOND THE BEYOND) and, to be honest, I think I do a better job dealing with the fanfic issues now in a fictional context (eg my novel MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE and my Diagnosis Murder episode MUST KILL TV) than I have done here lately.

I fear I am reaching the same point of humorlessness, repetition, and lack of clarity when I discuss the vanity presses that prey on the desperation and gullibility of aspiring writers.  At a certain point, you say everything you have to say, in every way you can possibly say it, and it might just be better to drop the whole thing (which I have largely done on the fanfic stuff, except when highlighting a special case, like the delusional woman who is writing & publishing her own TWILIGHT sequel).

But the vanity press thing is something else altogether. I'm not going to stop talking about those scams because it is so important to alert writers about them. But I'm dialing it down in that department, too, as you may have noticed.

10 thoughts on “Talked to Death”

  1. You’re like a kindergarten teacher, dealing each year with a new crop of wannabe writers who have to be educated about vanity press, fanfic and copyright.
    Small wonder it gets irritating repeating yourself, especially to some people who won’t listen.

  2. As the “someone” who authored the comment on DTOS I wanted to say that my comment was likely prompted because I have been reading your blog for quite a while and so had been a little shocked at the balance of vitriol versus argument of the particular post. As I was reading it, I did put it down to idiot-fatigue (see I can get nasty, too) but when Denis suggested it as an example of something more fun than Denis’own posts on the fanfic issue I felt compelled to cry “objection!” in relation to that particular post. As I said, on the issues, I agree with you utterly.
    As for the vanity publishing issue, as one of the budding/wannabes that follows you, I’m glad you say you will stay on the case, if a little less passionately, and thank you for it. I hover around the budding/wannabe blogosphere and it is frightening to me how many people think editing is either merely proof-reading (and spell check can do that, right?) or is some kind of conspiracy to keep their gem from being seen. In my pre-wannabe life I was an audio-book producer and I’ve seen my share of unsolicited manuscripts from people who somehow thought that their print-publisher-rejected manuscripts would be accepted for audio. Since I am a script editor by training, I tried to send what I hoped would be helpful, objective feedback with the rejections but most of the time (not all) they were received aggressively. It does seem that, even amongst those who would see themselves entering the profession, there is very little sense of published/produced writing as a CRAFT rather than a form of self-expression to which everyone is somehow entitled. We need people like yourself and Denis who share your process stories (and some of our own as they cross yours) and, in so doing, champion the notion of the writer-as-craftsman – skilled artisan rather than diva artiste.
    Those who rant at you defensively are likely to be the majority of people who comment here but, if we take into account the crazification factor, the majority of your writer-readers will be those who are genuinely looking to become the best writer they can be and, for anything you give us that will help us to achieve that, we are grateful … or will be eventually 🙂
    In short: Don’t let the bastards suck you down to their level or make you give up!

  3. The tough part to take is vanity press authors have a false sense of entitlement and demand equal recognition of of their work as if they’ve actually sold it. Say that and a war will erupt every time. At least it does to me.

  4. I think you’re making a really smart move because you aren’t making the second mistake because the help-seekers make the first mistake, thinking they are entitled to your time and help. The second mistake would be, I would argue, allowing yourself to feel anger or other negative emotions. Instead, these people should be a rich source of humor and energy. In my customer service days, I was amazed by a co-worker who never, ever got perturbed on the phone with a client, but instead, used to smile and smile and nod his head and be as pleasant as apple pie no matter what bad mood the client was in. This guy was voted the “best employee” in the company and got promoted to supervisor and then further up the ladder. Every time he talked to anybody, he was smiling and his eyes were glowing with energy even though about ninety percent of what he was hearing was just dumb, either from clients or co-workers. This was a classic case where attitude determined altitude. Me, I get annoyed far more than I should. But this guy had it right, I think, from a customer service point-of-view.

  5. And you, my friend, should read what the delusional fanficcer, Mrs. Potato Head, is writing these days:
    Although a couple of fame-hungry, has-been authors, such as Peter David and Lee Goldberg, have come to Stephenie Meyer’s rescue, so to speak, the bestselling author has simply refused to acknowledge them as well.
    Evidently, Ms. Meyer is no damsel in distress and appears to be in no need of rescuing, especially when this “rescuing” is so blantantly self-serving as it seems to be the case with the above named D-listers.”
    Quoted from “The Russet Noon Scandal” at
    You really gonna let her talk about you like that?

  6. Bill, I am a “non-fanficcer”, but an amateur writer, and I respect Mr Goldberg’s opinions on writing and getting published and everything that relates to that profession. That is because he is a professional. As for me, I practice law for a living and specialise in intellectual property. I, unlike Lee (or you, it seems), am a professional when it comes to intellectual property law. I respectfully submit that Lee does not “educate” anyone on copyright, because he is not a professional in that regard, so the kindergarten teacher analogy does not fly. Honestly, I do not recall seeing Lee make “rational, coherent, good-humored arguments.” From what I’ve seen, his comments on the topic have always (even long, long ago) come from a place of frustration and annoyance, so I respectfully disagree that the name calling is because he’s “been at it longer”. The name calling is due to the fact that he feels fanfic threatens his livelihood. That’s fair, but let’s not say it’s something that it isn’t.
    But Lee, thank you for what you do best. Stick to it.


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