Can you fall from grace?
Write one movie novelization too many, pay some sort of karmic price for milking a five book series out of a dopey short story? How many pseudonyms make a hack? What do you call it when you do something strictly for the money?
Is it better to rule in hell than scribble in anonymity?
How much money is enough?
What have you done for your community?
It used to be so easy: you wrote for fun. Or to entertain your friends. Or because you were bored. But you wrote. And you kept writing. The words flowed and sometimes there was music. People started taking notice.
Over the years, certain compromises were required of you. Did you:
a) Happily capitulate or
b) Stick to your guns, baby, damn the torpedos, I'm a artist, not some kind of fucking gun for hire, fuck that!
Writing is business now. Not just how you define yourself but how you make your living. Success or failure depends on your mailbox, real or virtual. If you play the game you get into certain anthologies, closed to outsiders (wankers!). Writing glowing reviews for rotten books, gladly offering up blurbs for novels you've never read. Filling out each other's names on ballots (you scratch my back). Short-listed and telling yourself it's on merit alone.
Writing used to be exhilarating, uplifting, fun...now it's a chore. Putting in long hours, writing X number of words. A superhero novel on the go (share-cropped from an ailing wordsmith with one foot in the grave), editing three different anthologies, including Tales of Fantasy and Seduction (pen name: Melissa St. Germain), both kids in need of braces, the alternator going on the Buick...
It used to be fun.
When did it start to go?
How did you let yourself fall so far?
Causes Cliff Burns Supports
The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Community Radio