Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Saga Of 'Said Writer'

Let this be a lesson, and I've thought long and hard about posting this, but, eventually I felt the story should be told.  A well-known writer whom I shall refer to only as Said Writer, often complains on mailing lists and in forums that nobody takes him seriously.  Every second message anywhere from him is a complaint about how work is few and far between, paying gigs are non-existent.  I think a lot of people can identify with that, but not everyone complains that it’s other people’s fault that they’re not approached.  Every third message you’re likely see or read is an attack upon whomever Said Writer believes has offended him, all with the disclaimer that he will not respond, but he does, often.  I think the following anecdotes might go a long way to explaining the general attitude towards Said Writer. 

Said Writer, decades ago, worked with an Artist and created a character.  Over the years Said Writer has done everything in their power to reduce the Artists contribution in the creative process, to the point where the Artist produced their original character designs, to which Said Writer promptly labelled them as being possible fakes, then outright accusing the Artist of lying, thereby attacking the Artists reputation, the first time anybody had done such a thing to the Artist, who prides himself on his honesty.  The Artist stood by his claims and had others attest to the veracity of his claims.  Said Writer was mad because he had to share the small amount of royalties with the Artist, and felt that he, said Writer, should have all of the money and the Artist should have nothing.  Naturally this is the Artists fault, not the publisher for changing the credit.  Indeed Said Writer believes that the Artist and Publisher colluded, and still do, to remove his rightful credit from the character.

It’s certainly not Said Writers fault, who insists that he designed the character, complete with drawings, and would have the proof but threw it all out years ago.  But, Said Writer says, he did it and people should believe him over anyone else, including anyone who was there and those who have proof of their involvement.  While he was busily telling people how he was robbed, Said Writer then made it a point to attack anyone who dared suggest that Siegel & Shuster, Lee & Kirby and other famous writer/artist combinations were more to do with one person than the other.  Mind you, Said Writer knows all of this better than anyone else because, as he likes to remind anyone who bothers to listen, he was either there or knows someone who was or he heard it from someone he thinks was there, and those who research but who weren’t there have no right to question his claims, as wrong as Said Writer can be at times.  If you disagree with Said Writer then you can expect to be bullied, both publically and privately, and your reputation torn to tatters.

It gets better.  The aforementioned Artist went from strength to strength and is able to land paying jobs and commissions because, well, he’s better than good – he’s influential and highly respected in the community.  Although he’s not worked with Said Writer for years when Said Writer contacted him to see if he’d like to reunite for a small press book, the Artist thought, well, why not?  Said Writer had been approached by a Small Publisher with the view that Said Writer has a bit of name recognition left.  However the combination of Said Writer and the Artist potentially is money in the bank, so when Said Writer suggested the Artist, Small Publisher was over the moon.  Small Publisher contacted the Artist to discuss page rates and the Artist gave him a price that he could afford, because the Artist likes to do such things – help small publishers out.  All that was needed was for Said Writer to write a story, the Artist would draw it, Small Publisher would publish it and all would be well.  Then two things happened.

Said Writer always complains that people publish unsubstantiated lies about him.  He knew another Writer who’d he helped and corresponded with many times.  Another Writer had given things to Said Writer over the years, had always sent over leads and the like and generally helped Said Writer.  Another Writer also defended Said Writer when people complained that Said Writer was a loon.  In return for all of this assistance Said Writer wrote a piece that repeated a vicious, potentially career ending slander about Another Writer.  The writer, naturally hurt, emailed and asked why.  No reply.  Nothing.  Said Writer says he stands by his stories and that he always checks the facts, but never once did Said Writer email the writer to ask if the allegations were true.  Even worse, Another Writer sent Said Writer a birthday greeting not that long before, Said Writer thanked Another Writer, but never mentioned how he was about to stab him in the spine.  Naturally this was Another Writer fault, not Said Writer, as the person who gave Said Writer the information was an old friend.  It mattered not that the information was baseless, couldn’t be proven and an outright lie, Said Writer merely parroted what he’d been fed.  Said Writer hates people who lie about him, but clearly he’s happy to lie about others and then runs and hides when confronted.  Meanwhile the Artist found out what Said Writer did and emailed Another Writer to ask what had happened.  As a show of support Artist offered to quit the job that Small Publisher had arranged with Said Writer.  Another Writer begged the Artist not to do this, so the Artist agreed.  In the meantime Said Writer then emailed the Artist about their upcoming job.

Artist was amazed with the email.  Instead of discussing story ideas for Small Publisher, Said Writer proposed an idea that would see Said Writer accept full payment for a script, upfront and instead deliver an all new, take-it-or-leave-it concept that he, Said Writer, would create and the Artist would draw.  As Small Publisher was a small publisher, he’d have no choice; he’d be out of pocket and would have to take the new deal.  The Artist was shocked at this lack of respect for Small Publisher, not to mention the lack of professional ethics and morals, and contacted Said Writer, saying that it was a bad idea.  I think a better idea, the Artist said, would be to deliver the story as agreed to, and then perhaps pitch your idea as a new idea.  I’m sure that Small Publisher would look at it.  Nope, Said Writer firmly stated, it’s my way or the highway. 

The Artist thought this over for a bit and then forwarded the emails to Small Publisher.  Small Publisher was shocked and upset – he was already out of pocket as he’d begun promoting the book, so he contacted Said Writer and said, yes, do what the Artist says, please.  Said Writer was miffed at someone younger, and as such nowhere near as experienced as he was, telling him what to do, pulled out of the project.  Artist then offered his services for a cheaper rate to make up for Said Writers faux pas, and, when contacted, Another Writer also offered his services, gratis, to make up for Said Writer’s greed.  Naturally the loss of the writing gig was the Artists fault, not Said Writers.  If the Artist had merely kept his mouth shut and did what he was told to do by Said Writer then all would have been well.

Said Writer doesn’t get invited to many conventions these days.  This is everybody else’s fault, not Said Writers.  People are worried that Said Writer might say or do something erratic; Said Writer says he never does such a thing, that he’s a lovely guy, albeit misunderstood, peaceful and placid.  It’s all a big conspiracy.  Said Writer has trouble landing paying gigs, but a lot of that might have to do with the ruins and rubble of the many bridges that Said Writer has left in his wake.  Said Writers fan base is growing smaller each and every day, but that’s not his fault, it’s everyone else’s fault for not being clever enough to follow what Said Writer says and writes. And when it comes to writing, Said Writer insists on re-writing the same stories that he lifted from other, better writers over 30 years ago and had published when he had ‘name value’.  Naturally that’s not Said Writer’s fault, it’s everyone else’s fault for not realising that he’s writing in a ‘hip, retro style’, so hip that nobody else does it, instead they call it ‘outdated’.  Naturally that’s their fault, not Said Writers.

Said Writer is a bitter, venomous old man, who can’t accept that he’s past whatever prime he once had.  He can’t accept that, by attacking the very people who would support and help him, he only creates a climate in which he cannot operate.  If Said Writer wasn’t so vainglorious, he might accept that his way of operating isn’t the right way, it never was.  But it’s doubtful that Said Writer will ever realise this.  After all it’s all one big conspiracy, everyone is out to get him and put him down because, well, he’s just too talented.

If only.

Such is the price that you pay for blaming others for your own failings. 

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