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More criticism and a new story

January 12, 2009
Posted at 4:46 pm

I haven't said anything for a while, and I'm starting to get those emails asking where I am and if I'm OK, so I thought I'd catch you up on things.

This is going to be a hodge podge kind of blog entry, as a result.

I've mentioned mail in the past, including anonymous mail. I get a lot of mail from people who leave an address, and a lot from people who don't. Most of the mail I get is positive, and I appreciate it. I tell that to those of you who don't write anonymously.

But I get negative mail too. I thought you might like to see what that's like, just so you don't think I have a big head. Here are two recent examples.

With reference to Mistrusting a Memory

Message from: Anonymous

Mr. Lubrican - trying to do a John Grisham!
I love to read your stories, but this was,
honestly, a let down - total disappointment.

With reference to The Making of a Gigolo series

Message from: Lee Hickling (email address deleted for this blog entry):

The neighbors were distressed no end, which means
without a limit, rather than to no end, which
means without a purpose or result. You have other
mistakes or clumsy phrases in this piece, but I'm
not going to take time to sort them all out.

If you can't write correct English, you should
find an editor who can.

Write me back and bitch at me if you want to. Or
hire me as your editor. That's one of the things I
do for a living, and I get $35 a page.

So how do I address this kind of mail? Well, there's nothing I can do about the anonymous mail, since there's no address to send it to. If I WERE going to answer it, I'd have said something like this:

The Bible, which is a fairly major literary work, known and respected by a heck of a lot of people, says (among other things) in Ecclesiastes 1:9 (New International Version): "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Now, I'm not trying to start an argument about whether technology is "new" or not. Though, if you think about it, String Theory, which is on the cutting edge of science and is considered "new" is really about something that's been going on since creation started. We just didn't know about it until recently.

No, what I'm saying is that, at least as far as literature is concerned, there isn't much out there that's really "new." It's all been done before. You mentioned Grisham, and suggested that I was trying to "do" him. In my opinion that's like saying John Grisham was trying to "do" Erle Stanley Gardner, and his Perry Mason stories, and that maybe Mr. Gardner was trying to "do" somebody who came before him.

In actuality, when an idea comes to me, I just write what that idea looks like in my mind. I'm not trying to "be" anybody. I just like to write.

Now obviously, the fact that I read everything Louis L'Amour ever wrote, means that some of what he wrote has seeped into my brain. It may come out when I write about a western scene. But I also read everything Isaac Asimov ever wrote, with the exception of some of his text books. Does that mean that if I write a science fiction piece I'm trying to be him?

I've read some of Grisham's books and seen some movies based on his books. I liked them. I think he tells a hell of a tale. Maybe what I appreciate about his writing affected how I thought about the idea that became this story.

But I'm not trying to be John Grisham, or Louis L'Amour, or anybody else.

That's one of the reasons I don't read a lot of erotica these days, because I don't want to know if somebody else already wrote the same story I have in my mind. A good example of that is a story I wanted to write about Female Hysteria, a "medical condition" that was treated back in the late 1800s and early 1900s by what amounted to masturbation of the female patient by the doctor. I even had an outline done and was doing research on it. Then, on a whim, I did some searches on SOL and ASSTR. Guess what? I found a story written by a well known female author who I respect and like to read. Her plot line was so similar to mine that I had to toss mine into the garbage bin. Actually, what I should have said was that MY plot line was so similar to HERS ... that I had to discard my idea.

So, while I'm flattered that you read my story and thought of John Grisham ... at the same time I'm kind of pissed of that he gets the credit, when it was MY idea, and MY thought processes that brought it about.

Now, as to that second one ... the one that says I'm a hack and need a decent editor to haul my irons out of the fire.

Well, I did send him a response. I basically said (politely, in my opinion) I wasn't interested in his offer.

Peaches, my editor, whom he savaged so thoroughly, had this response: "Tell him to go fuck himself no end."

She's a little less thick-skinned than I am.

He was right, by the way, technically. The way that's written suggests that the neighbors were distressed and it didn't do them any good. Which is true. But he knew what I really meant, which was that their distress had no end, so he was right. I don't actually mind that kind of criticism. It reminds me to think as I write. On the other hand ... he knew what I meant ... which suggests that I communicated successfully, if not correctly. And I do this as a hobby, and you get it for free, so ...

Lastly, there IS another story finished. It's going to be called The Babe Bike Blues and it is, in my opinion, a bit different than I've done in the past. It's a romance and a pseudo Uncle Bob story of sorts.

It's going to be tedious to read, initially, because the heroine of the tale stutters, and reading a story where the dialog c-c-contains s-s-stuttering is a l-l-little f-f-frustrating, until you get used to it. Those of you who read my writing pretty regularly know that I don't do anything without a reason, though, so when it's through editing and starts appearing, just stick with it for a while. You'll get used to it. I promise.

I hear some of you wondering "Why would he do this? Why would he make something hard to read?"

Well, actually, it's because if you've ever spent any time with a person who stutters, it IS frustrating ... for both of you. And I want you to FEEL this girl's frustration. I want it to make you impatient and on edge, as if you were there. I want you to silently mouth the words without the stutter, trying to help her get things out of her mouth. That's what you'd do in real life, or at least what I found myself doing in real life when I spent time with several of my friends who stuttered. I want you to be uncomfortable so that later in the story you can feel other less troublesome emotions just as strongly. I won't say more now.

Except that it's finished and is in editing right now. We're dotting each i and crossing each t and checking to make sure that it's perfect, no end. That doesn't mean it will be perfect. It's possible our editing job may end up only being worth $25 per page.

But then ... in this economy times are tough for everybody.

Thanks for reading.