Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Want To Be Famous Because I'm Great

That is, I have more ego than those who just want to be famous. I want to be famous because I deserve it. Which isn't to say I believe I deserve it yet. Deserving it is what I'm working toward, and yes please I'd like the fame that comes with it. Of course, I'm talking about the amount of fame that a well-known writer would get, which is not the hounded by paparazzi invading my privacy to the point where I should be allowed to shoot them variety. No, I aspire to be known as a writer (and I don't walk around claiming to be one just because I have a few novels in the works. Hell, everyone's grandmother has a few novels in the works. "I could be the next Agatha Christie." No thanks and no I couldn't, Ms. Christie was phenomenally good at what she did and I do something else.)

I can legitimately claim to be an editor on the small press level; we are working on the fourth issue of Swill and the eighth issue of Monday Night, both scheduled for summer publication, and I am proud of what both publications have achieved. Monday Night is more of a shared credit, as it was started several years ago as an off-shoot of the writers group I was in at the time. The number of editors has gradually dwindled to two, with Jessica's focus primarily on poetry and mine primarily on fiction; Sharon, who used to be one of the editors, does all the artwork and layout. And although a version of that writers group still exists, none of us who work on the magazine are in it.

Swill is more specifically mine. To a large degree it was my wife's idea, as she told me I should stop grousing if Monday Night wasn't doing everything I wanted it to do. Also it was her idea that I involve Sean. Swill owes a lot to the writing of Delphine LeCompte. Delphine has a lot of stories on line and I'm a big fan. She submitted stories to Monday Night and I was the only editor who liked them, and I loved them. There was a story of hers that was being considered for Monday Night and it got published elsewhere. Delphine and I exchanged numerous emails; I really wanted to publish her. And I wanted to publish fiction that didn't fit in the so-called "literary" magazines. I had fiction of my own that didn't seem to be marketable at all; I thought it was literary fiction but the literary fiction markets dismissed it as "genre." After a few years of this I came to the realization that what these markets considered literary I considered boring. They were rejecting me not because I wasn't good enough but because I wasn't part of the program. Whereas I'd been thinking they should publish me because my stories were so obviously superior to what they were receiving.

I guess Swill publishes the work of writers who don't do what they're supposed to. I like stories and I hate epiphanies because in real life there's action and there aren't epiphanies. In real life of course there's tons of boredom too, but that doesn't justify the stories that replicate those scenes. I really hate writers. Not all, but maybe all the ones who call themselves writers. I mean, unless that's what you do for a living, but so much writing is self-absorbed and why should I care about another person when I'm self-absorbed myself?

So Swill has gotten one terrible review from a zine press, one decent review from a litzine review magazine (I disagreed with their criticisms but it was fairly written, ran excerpts from a few stories, and clearly expressed the reviewer's prejudices, which I actually found impressive) and have had nice things said about us by Harlan Ellison. Let me rephrase that:


Because Harlan Ellison was one of three writers specifically mentioned on the back cover of the first issue of Swill. It was a note about literary fiction, which I said we like, but we think literary fiction includes Harlan Ellison and James Ellroy. (The third author I mentioned was Shakespeare - he included a lot of violence and humor in his work, yet some of the critics put up with him anyway.)

As I don't expect James Ellroy to ever say anything nice about anyone but himself (although maybe he'd like us, since he's one of my favorite writers), and Shakespeare is even less likely to give us a shout, we may have already achieved a chunk of the fame we're seeking.

We want more, of course. We make absolutely no money doing this and we think it's worth something. Issue 4 will be our best yet, and I was quite excited today when I found out that I know someone who knows one of the leading science fiction editors in the world, and he'd be happy to help me contact him. Not that Swill is all sf by any means; out of the 7 stories in the next issue, I think two would fit in that category, four would probably be best classified as crime, and one is a bizarre comic literary fantasy that has nothing in common with the rest of the issue except that it's damned good.

God, like authors aren't obscure enough. What if it turns out I get most famous for editing?


Allison Landa said...

I just told Adam that I wanted to post a comment, but that what the hell was I going to say? "Yeah, me too. I hate writers. I'm pretty inebriated right now."

He said: "You can be generally agreeable."

I leave it to you to entirely disagree with his statement.

Anonymous said...

Fuck fame, but blessings and good fortune to you, me old mucka.

Sean Craven said...

I thought I'd left a comment on this already...

Rob, this immediately made me think of a paragraph from my 'why I write' essay.

"A big part of my envy is that I want is to be better than I am. I want to be one of the people with the magic. Someone who gets attention because they deserve it. Quentin Crisp once said that artists of any kind are nothing but a bunch of hooligans who are unable to live within their budget of attention. Guilty!"

Jesus, it's no wonder we're Swilling it up together...

rhondapalooza said...

"why should I care about another person when I'm self-absorbed myself?"

hahahah! touche!

What do I have to do to keep future issues of Swill arriving in my mailbox? You're such a sleazy corner-house dealer... "first issues free".. haha. Fucker.