My entire writing career and philosophy is built around maintaining absolute control over every aspect of my life but, especially, my creative life.
My role models are people like Stanley Kubrick, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, individuals not noted for compromising their artistic vision. I have lost out on anthology appearances, nearly blew a movie deal, simply because I insist on dictating terms when it comes to my work. I am not interested in the views of agents and editors (or producers)--the sole function of an editor, to my mind, is proof reading, a glorified spell-checker. And any agent who tried to direct my career, suggest a possible project, would end up with their head on a fucking pike in my front yard, mute testimony to what happens when you try to give advice to someone who has devoted every ounce of his time and energy for the past quarter century in service of the printed word.
I would rather be broke and unpublished than a whore in a mansion with a shelf full of crap books written to satisfy some agent/editor's idea of what fits into this month's market niche.
I think I'd make an excellent client for any agent--low maintenance, not requiring hand-holding, motivational speeches or reassurance. I write the books, they sell them. No need to vet manuscripts for quality control, I won't release anything for publication until it passes muster--and I have far higher standards than the vast majority of people in the publishing biz.
I know some are reading this post, shaking their heads. "What a pompous asshole..."
Have you read my work? Is it just possible I might be one terrific fucking author whose integrity will not permit him to sell out? My novel So Dark the Night is as good as anything you'll read this year. My short story "Daughter" will break your fucking heart. Take a look, if you don't believe me.
In order to be an artist, enormous courage is required. When Picasso was told that a collector did not like the direction of his latest work, he firmly replied: "That's fine. I'm glad he doesn't like it! At this rate we'll disgust the whole world."
Picasso had no shortage of critics. But...he created some of the most memorable, iconographic artworks of the past 100 years; he has achieved immortality whereas those who spoke against him are, for the most part, anonymous, forgotten, discredited.
I think there might be a lesson in there somewhere...
Causes Cliff Burns Supports
The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Community Radio